We take a look at five hugely influential non-league signings by Port Vale FC.
If you disagree (or agree) with our selection of the best Port Vale non-league signings, please let us know in the forum.
Purchase price: £15,000
Sale price: £1m
He may one of the most famous names to be associated with Port Vale but when John Rudge swooped for Moor Green’s Ian Kenneth Taylor in 1992 he was a complete unknown. However, the former fork-lift driver took to professional football like a duck to water. He scored eighteen goals in his first season, becoming the club’s top-scorer and player of the year. The following season he added a further sixteen goals and helped win the Autoglass Trophy before being sold to Sheffield Wednesday for £1m. He later won the League Cup with boyhood club Aston Villa.
Purchase price: Nominal fee (not a ‘half of shandy’ as reported)
Sale price: £30,000
An inspirational midfielder, Horton was snapped up from Hednesford in 1970 and rapidly became a key figure in the Port Vale midfield of the early 1970s. After 250 games for the Valiants, Brighton came in with a big money fee of £30,000 and Horton enjoyed top-flight playing success with Albion, Hull City and Luton Town. He later returned to the Valiants as a manager and led the club to their 2001 LDV Trophy final success.
Purchase price: £3,000
Sale price: £375,000
The Welsh striker was famously signed by John Rudge waiting hours in his car to get the player’s signature before an Arsenal scout arrived. Rudge’s 1985 hunch proved well-founded. Jones showed glimpses of his potential with eighteen goals in his first season, but stood out in his second with a staggering 37 goals. The striker had already earned a promotion in 1986 and he was called up by Wales in 1987. Jones scored on his International debut and his form attracted top-flight Charlton Athletic who shelled out a club record £375,000 for the striker. Jones returned for a brief cameo with a 1989 loan spell.
Purchase price: A’large’ fee
Sale price: His spell was ended by World War Two
‘Nipper’ Roberts was snapped up from non-league Wigan Athletic in 1935 by Port Vale manager Warney Cresswell in what turned out to be an inspired signing. Goal machine Roberts hit sixty goals in a hundred appearances for the club and was joint top-scorer in the whole Football League in 1938 with 38 goals. Roberts left in 1939 and hit the headlines with a POW prison camp escape with the Irish Guards in World War Two. An extraordinary figure, you can read more about him in our Cult Hero feature
Purchase price: Free
Sale price: Free
Arguably the club’s finest keeper was playing for tiny non-league Ashington when he was persuaded to take a trial at Port Vale by his brother George. It proved to be a pivotable moment for club and player. King went on to be the revered goalkeeper in the record-breaking Iron Curtain side and earn a call-up to the England side. He would make 275 appearances over eight seasons before being released on a free transfer in 1957.