Following Will Atkinson’s second “Vale debut” on Saturday, we take a look at times when other players have returned to Vale Park.
Note: this is not a comprehensive list of players to have multiple spells at the club but a selection of players we have highlighted.
1962-1967 and 1977
Alcock was a locally born right-back who switched to centre-half with great success. In August 1967, after four years at the club he signed for Second Division Blackpool for a fee of £30,000, a club record at the time. He helped Blackpool into the First Division and won the Anglo-Italian Cup. He rejoined Vale for a second spell in 1977 although he interrupted his spell in Burslem for a short stay with Portland Timbers in the USA. He left Vale for the final time in 1978 as he joined Halifax Town.
- First Vale spell: 124 appearances, no goals
- Second Vale spell: seven appearances, two goals
1992 and 1994-1995
A much-travelled striker who initially joined on loan. He arrived permanently two years later and despite a good strike rate he failed to nail down a regular place and departed for a fee of £42,500 to Lincoln City.
- First Vale spell: six appearances, no goals
- Second Vale spell: 26 appearances, ten goals
2001-2006 and 2013-2016
After progressing through the junior ranks, Birchall became a regular first-teamer in 2004-2005. His form brought him to the attention of the Trinidad & Tobago squad who called up the winger in 2005. Birchall impressed enough to play in the World Cup for his country and this earned him a £325,000 to Micky Adams’ Coventry City side in 2006. Birchall returned to Vale Park in 2013 and played a role in the club’s promotion that year. He remained a useful squad player until he was released in 2016 and remains the club’s most capped International.
- First Vale spell: 91 appearances, 9 goals
- Second Vale spell: 85 appearances, 8 goals
1918, 1919-1923 and 1925
The former Stoke and Leeds forward played for the club in two spells. His time at Vale was broken by a contract dispute in 1923 during which time he joined Congleton Town before eventually returning to the Valiants. He was top scorer in the 1924-1925 season, helped the club to promotion in 1930, scored four goals in a game and ended up with over fifty goals for the club.
- First Vale spell: 127 appearances, 17 goals
- Second Vale spell: 153 appearances, 38 goals
1906-1910 and 1913-1922
A locally born forward who had three spells with the Valiants. He started his career in 1906 but left when the club went into liquidation. He returned in 1909 and netted a club record 43 goals in the North Staffordshire & District League during 1909-1910. He then moved to Liverpool in 1910 but rejoined Port Vale in 1913, scoring eight league goals before retiring in 1922. A fascinating character, Brough was also a keen amateur cyclist and was still cycling in his 80’s.
- First Vale spell: 11 appearances, one goal
- Second Vale spell: 37 appearances, 43 goals (in non-league)
- Third Vale spell: 70 appearances, 52 goals (in non-league); 67 appearances, 8 goals
1999-2001 and 2008
Midfielder Brammer was signed by Brian Horton and cost a club-record £500,000 when he was signed from Wrexham. He was made club captain, player of the year and was named as man of the match in Vale’s LDV Trophy final win of 2001. He departed to Crewe Alexandra for £500,000 as a cost cutting measure in 2001. He returned to Vale on loan in 2008 but his second spell was less successful and he left under a cloud as he accused the Vale board of informing him of his release via text message.
- First Vale spell: 84 appearances, four goals
- Second Vale spell: 14 appearances, no goals
1965-1969 and 1976
A Scottish striker who spent two spells as a player and has also worked as club commercial manager. Cullerton was one of a crop of young Scottish players to join the club in the late 60’s. He was released in 1969 and went to have spells with Chester City, Derby County and Stafford Rangers. He returned to Vale Park in 1975 and had a three year second spell including being the club’s top scorer in the 1975-1976 season.
- First Vale spell: 97 appearances, 22 goals
- Second Vale spell: 83 appearances, 28 goals
2008-2015 and 2018-2019
A player who divided the fans, Dodds scored on his debut and played a key role in the club’s promotion in 2013. He was one of a number of players to reject a contract on reduced terms in 2015 and had a spell at Shrewsbury Town. He returned to Vale on loan from Chesterfield in 2018 but he made just seventeen appearances without scoring and his loan spell was terminated early in January 2019.
- First Vale spell: 332 appearances, 56 goals
- Second Vale spell: 17 appearances, no goals
2005-2006 and 2007
A powerful central defender who twice joined the Vale on loan. He initially joined from Bristol City in 2005-06 and arrived again on loan from Leyton Orient the following season.
- First Vale spell: 29 appearances, 2 goals
- Second Vale spell: 15 appearances, no goals
1967 and 1968-1971
A cultured midfielder who initially joined Port Vale on loan from Blackpool in 1967. He sealed a permanent move in 1968 and was voted Player of the Year and was an ever-present during the 1969-1970 promotion season.
- First Vale spell: eleven appearances, no goals
- Second Vale spell: 91 appearances, 8 goals
1985-1987 and 1989
A prolific striker who joined the club for £3,000 from Rhyl. Jones equalled the post-war scoring record with 37 goals during the 1986-1987 and was picked for the Welsh International side. He was sold for a club-record £375,000 fee to Charlton Athletic. He returned for a brief loan spell during the 1988-1989 season where he scored three times in the run-in to Vale’s promotion.
- First Vale spell: 112 appearances, 59 goals
- Second Vale spell: 17 appearances, 3 goals
1920-1929 and 1932-1933
The legendary striker tops the club’s all-time scoring charts. He started his career at Vale in 1923 where Kirkham was top scorer for three years and set the club-record of 38 goals in one season. He moved to Stoke City for a spell in 1929 before returning to Vale in 1932. He could have enjoyed even more scoring success but he opted to retire to become a full-time teacher at the age of 31. During two spells with Vale, he scored four goals in a game twice and hit twelve hat-tricks.
- First Vale spell: 225 appearances, 145 goals
- Second Vale spell: 51 appearances, 19 goals
1992 and 1994
A talented forward who enjoyed two productive loan spells at Vale Park, Lowe first joined Vale in 1992 on loan from Ipswich Town. He was sold by Ipswich to Leicester City later that year but returned for a second spell at Vale Park where he helped the club secure promotion.
- First Vale spell: 9 appearances, 2 goals
- Second Vale spell: 19 appearances, 5 goals
2008 and 2012
An elegant midfielder who joined on loan from Manchester City in 2008 where he opened his account with a long-range free-kick. After a spell in non-league, he rejoined the Port Vale side in 2012 on non-contract terms but was released at the end of the season.
- First Vale spell: 13 appearances, one goal
- Second Vale spell: 15 appearances, no goals
1941-1951 and 1957-1959
An inside-forward and full-back who spent two spells at the club, separated by a spell at neighbours Stoke. City. He was ever-present for the 1947-1948 and the 1948-1949 seasons.
- First Vale spell: 179 appearances, 31 goals
- Second Vale spell: 19 appearances, no goals
1995-1997 and 2002
An elegant right-winger who was signed for a club-record fee of £450,000 from York City. McCarthy formed a quality wing partnership with Steve Guppy and the pair were instrumental in the FA Cup defeat of Everton. McCarthy departed to Birmingham City for a club record £1.5m pounds and returned to the club for a brief spell five years later.
- First Vale spell: 119 appearances, 16 goals
- Second Vale spell: 9 appearances, no goals
2008 and 2009
A young left-back who was signed on loan from Plymouth Argyle two seasons in a row.
- First Vale spell: 14 appearances, no goals
- Second Vale spell: 5 appearances, no goals
1992-2000 and 2007
Record-breaking goalkeeper who was the club’s record goalkeeping signing at £17,000 and who holds the club record for goalkeeping appearances. He was in goal for the Autoglass Trophy win. He returned in 2007 to act as cover for the injured Mark Goodlad, without making an appearance.
- First Vale spell: 367 appearances, no goals
- Second Vale spell: no appearances, no goals
2010-2011, 2012-2015 and 2017 to present
The powerful striker has had three spells with the club. After an initial loan spell, Pope joined on a permanent basis and powered the club to promotion in 2013 before leaving for Bury in 2015. He returned for a third spell in 2017 during which he passed one hundred goals for the club.
- First Vale spell: 13 appearances, three goals
- Second Vale spell: 183 appearances, 66 goals
- Third Vale spell: 100 appearances, 36 goals (to present)
1985 to 1998 and 2004 to 2006
A battling midfielder who progressed through the junior ranks to become a firm crowd favourite. He was a member of the 1988-1989 promotion side, the Autoglass Trophy winning side and captain for the Anglo-Italian Cup Final with Genoa. He also scored a crucial goal in the 3-1 FA Cup victory over Stoke City. After thirteen years service he joined Wigan on a free transfer but returned to Vale Park in a coaching capacity. He made a shock comeback during an injury crisis in 2004, making the odd highly effective cameo appearance when required.
- First Vale spell: 427 appearances, 26 goals
- Second Vale spell: six appearances, no goals
1973-1978 and 1982-1985
A tall utility player who spent two spells at the club. He was sold to Leicester City for a then club-record £55,000 fee in 1978 before returning on a free transfer from Chesterfield in 1982. He then helped the club to promotion in 1982-1983.
- First Vale spell: 180 appearances, four goals
- Second Vale spell: 130 appearances, five goals
1979-1980 and 1982-1983
A prolific striker who spent two successful loan spells at the club, the first on loan from Crystal Palace and the second on loan from QPR.
- First Vale spell: 17 appearances, six goals
- Second Vale spell: six appearances, four goals
1956-1961 and 1961-1968 and 1968
A long-serving striker who spent three spells at the club. He was ever-present for four years and 199 appearances and was leading scorer in the 1957-1958 and 1958-1959 seasons. He was sold to West Bromwich Albion for £10,000 but returned to Vale Park in 1961 and spent a brief third spell with the club in 1968.
- First Vale spell: 201 appearances, 71 goals
- Second Vale spell: 173 appearances, 24 goals
- Third Vale spell: two appearances, no goals
1972-1977 and 1981-1985
An attacking right-back who had two spells at the club. He was sold to Chesterfield for £15,000 before returning to Vale Park for the same fee and playing a part in the 1982-1983 promotion side.
- First Vale spell: 194 appearances, nine goals
- Second Vale spell: 135 appearances, 11 goals
1999-2001 and 2005
A tough-tackling midfielder who initially joined on loan before finalising a free-transfer move from Grimsby Town. He was voted Player of the Year in 2000 before moving on to Hartlepool. After a spell at Macclesfield Town, he dramatically returned to Vale during an injury crisis and gallantly agreed to play for nothing on a non-contract basis. His second spell ended when he moved on to non-league Salisbury City.
- First Vale spell: 89 appearances, eight goals
- Second Vale spell: six appearances, no goals