Last summer we ran a series of articles asking for your all-time Port Vale XI. Sadly, the announcement of a winning formation was delayed due to the usual Port Vale crisis coming along and dominating matters. So, after a long delay, here are the results of that vote.
Goalkeeper: Mark Goodlad
Profile: An immensely popular figure in the early 2000’s Goodlad was put into the first-team aged just 20 and went to make alomst 250 appearances, a figure which surely would have been higher if injury had not intervened. He is remembered for an astonishing display of keeping against Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup, for winning the player of the year award in 2002 and being a member of the victorious LDV Vans Trophy Final team.
Vote Result: A narrow affair with Goodlad just pipping Ken Hancock to first place.
Right-back: Simon Mills
Profile: Converted from midfield to right-back, Mills remains one of the more popular players to wear the Port Vale shirt. A classy midfielder, he brought skill and deadly accurate passing to the full-back position often working in tandem with the more pacy Darren Hughes in the left-back slot. Mills was a key part of the “MBE” routine which brought much success to John Rudge’s side.
Vote Result: A pretty comprehensive win with well over half the vote for the still popular Mills.
Left-back: Allen Tankard
Profile: After a slow start to his Port Vale career, few would have predicted at the time that Tankard would go on to be regarded as the club’s finest left-back. However, years of consistent performances firmly won the Vale crowd over. Tankard played for Vale for eight years making 324 appearances winning both promotion and lifting the LDV Vans Trophy.
Vote Result: A pretty comprehensive win for Tankard with half of the vote.
Centre-half: Roy Sproson
Profile: A Port Vale legend, there was never going to be an ultimate Port Vale side without at least one Sproson in it. Roy’s loyalty to the club is unsurpassed – 837 starts, the club’s all-time appearance holder also managed the club for a spell. His huge contribution to the club is celebrated by the Sproson statue outside the front entrance.
Vote Result: On account of his untouchable status, OVF awarded Sproson a bye into the ultimate XI
Centre-half: Neil Aspin
Profile: One of the most beloved Port Vale players due to his never-say-die attitude, Aspin made 410 appearances during a ten year stay with the Valiants. Equally at home in the right-back slot his partnership with Dean Glover in central defence was in place for many of the John Rudge glory years. Aspin also returned as manager for a brief spell.
Vote Result: There were plenty of contenders for the role of Roy Sproson’s partner in the all-time Port Vale XI but Aspin finished a strong winner
Right-winger: Jon McCarthy
Profile: Scorer of one of the most celebrated goals in Vale Park’s history (his stunning winner against Everton) McCarthy and wing partner Steve Guppy terrified defenders for years as John Rudge’s counter-attacking side enjoyed unprecedented success. A Northern Ireland International, McCarthy was sold for a club record fee and later returned to the club for a brief second spell.
Vote Result: One of the most hotly contested positions, McCarthy encountered support for Gareth Ainsworth and Mark Chamberlain before he finished on top
Left-winger: Steve Guppy
Profile: Another brilliant John Rudge signing, Guppy often partnered McCarthy on the opposite wing. A deadly accurate delivery soon attracted bigger clubs with Guppy sold to Leicester City where he later played for England.
Vote Result: About as comprehensive as it can get, Guppy swept the board
Central midfield: Ray Walker
Profile: Known as the “Hoddle of the lower Leagues” and with one of the most cultured range of passing skills seen at Vale Park, Walker was the playmaker in the John Rudge glory years and was often played in tandem with our other central midfield pick
Vote result: Comfortably secured the most votes of our shortlist
Central midfield: Robbie Earle
Profile: If Walker provided the skill, Earle provided energy and a goal threat. He won promotion three times during a long spell with the club. The locally-born midfielder was once voted the best Port Vale player of all-time and went on to represent his country at the World Cup.
Vote result: Just behind Walker in the vote results
Striker: Martin Foyle
Profile: Another cultured player to make our ultimate XI, Foyle may be second of the list of all-time Vale scorers but it was all-round work rate and vision which also impressed. Foyle was twice voted the club’s player of the year. He also managed the club for a spell.
Vote result: A comfortable winner in the forward vote
Striker: Tony Naylor
Profile: The second-half of yet another partnership, Naylor often paired up with Foyle upfront. Pacy and skilful, Naylor is perhaps remembered more for scoring great goals rather than being a great goalscorer. One strike against Sunderland is often regarded as the greatest ever scored at Vale Park.
Vote result: A strong second to Foyle in the vote
Votes for the subs in the all-time Port Vale XI were as follows:
Sub Goalkeeper: Paul Musselwhite
Subs: Ian Taylor, Dean Glover, Gareth Ainsworth, Andy Jones, Darren Beckford, Mark Chamberlain