Connections: Vale and Walsall

Connections: Vale and Walsall

There have been a number of players to feature for both Port Vale and our old enemies Walsall. Here’s just a selection of them…

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Nicky Cross

Nicholas Jeremy Rowland Cross (yes, really) was yet another astute John Rudge signings (and how many times do we say that on OVF). He’d started his career at West Brom and had managed almost a goal every other game for Walsall before joining Leicester. He was then snapped up by the Valiants for £125,000.

Initially, the reception was mixed as Cross was slight of build and didn’t particularly look a goal threat. But like a lot of Rudge signings, initial impressions can be misleading. Cross was a skilful and hard-working forward and soon proved his worth during a five year Vale stay. Cross’s Vale highlights include a purple patch of six goals in three games during 1993, an FA Cup goal in a giantkilling of then top-flight Derby County and this wonder strike against Brentford:

Vale appearances: 136+29 (41 goals)

Walsall appearances: 135+4 (51 goals)

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Dean Smith

smith-deanThe current Walsall boss finished his playing career with the Valiants. He’d started his career at Walsall and made over 150 appearances before a move to Hereford United in 1994. Further moves to Leyton Orient and Sheffield Wednesday ensued before Martin Foyle signed the then-veteran for the Valiants. Smith looked solid in defence but his Vale spell was brought to a premature end when he accepted a coaching job at old club Leyton Orient. He was then appointed coach at Walsall, progressing to the manager’s role in 2011.

Vale appearances: 14+1 (1 goal)

Walsall appearances: 161+5 (2 goals)

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Trevor Wood

A reliable keeper, Wood could have had a longer Vale career if circumstances had been difficult. He was signed on a free transfer from Brighton primarily as a back-up to first-choice Mark Grew.

However, when Grew departed in 1992, Wood was in pole position to be first-choice ahead of new signing Paul Musselwhite. But  Wood was dropped after five games when he conceded a penalty against Swansea and Musslewhite’s form was such that Wood remained on the sidelines. He moved to Walsall in 1994 and picked up a solitary Northern Ireland International cap during his spell with the Saddlers.

Vale appearances: 50

Walsall appearances: 83

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Ally Brown

Brown was in the veteran stages of his career when he joined the Vale from Walsall in 1984. He was initially paired with Robbie Earle upfront and the Vale legend credits the veteran with playing  a big part in his football education. Earle told the Sentinel that: “Ally taught me when to make runs and when to conserve my energy.”

However, the veteran did have one habit that Earle opted not to follow. Earle continued: “I am pretty sure his habit of having a cigarette at half-time would be frowned upon in the modern game. Ally thought no-one in the dressing room knew what he was up to, but the smoke wafting out of the toilet cubicle gave the game away.”

The veteran striker also helped a young Andy Jones, then his understudy, the tricks of the trade and no doubted helped the then-young Welsh striker to become one of the lower league’s most feared strikers. Brown retired through injury in 1985 after helping the club to promotion.

Vale appearances: 78 (27 goals)

Walsall appearances: 38 (13 goals)

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Others

shuker-chrisVale’s Chris Shuker (right) once had a loan spell at Walsall while conversely Walsall’s Romaine Sawyers also had a loan spell with Vale. Walsall assistant Richard O’Kelly also played for the Valiants.

Other players to appear for both clubs include: Florent Cuvelier (we hope he recovers from his injury soon), Marc Laird, Paul Marshall, Stefan Moore, Simon Osborn, Michael Husbands, Brett Angell, Darren Beckford, Colin Gibson, Adrian Littlejohn, Dave Barnett, Jonny Brain, Bobby Gough, Roy Cross, Keith Ball, John Woodward, Gary Ford, Steve Cherry, Danny Sonner, Tony Richards, Rhys Weston and Hector Sam.

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