Port Vale’s form at the start of the 1929-30 season was near-perfect. We take a look back at a memorable season in the Third Division (North).
Port Vale had been relegated to the Third Division (North) at the end of 1928-29 thanks to a poor away record and a terrible defence, which had conceded 86 goals. Not only that but club legends Tom Page and Wilf Kirkham had left the club. It looked a tough task for manager Joe Schofield to reverse their fortunes but few could have predicted what happened next.
It looked a tough task for manager Joe Schofield to reverse their fortunes but few could have predicted what happened next…
In retrospect, Schofield’s summer signings were inspired. Former Welsh International goalkeeper Arthur Brown and tough tackling full-back Bill Cope came in to shore up the defence. However, arguably the masterstroke was the signing of maverick striker Sam Jennings to partner Albert Pynegar upfront. Jennings’ training technique often involved racing his greyhound to the ball and despite rumours of a rift between Jennings and Pynegar the pair would be the preferred front pair all season.
The new signings worked as Vale got off to a tremendous start that even overcame one of the most shocking events in the club’s history…
How the run unfolded…
Vale began by recording two successive away wins with new signing Sam Jennings netting in both. For the first home games at the Recreation Ground, the team then turned on the style with TEN goals in the first two fixtures. Barrow were swept aside 5-0 in front of a near 10,000 crowd then Albert Pynegar netted a hat-trick as New Brighton were dispatched 5-1.
The side’s only defeat came on the 16th September when Vale were narrowly beaten 3-2 by Lincoln City but just thirteen days later the club were rocked by the shock news that manager Joe Schofield had passed away. He was aged just 58. Such a blow would have rattled other sides but not this Port Vale one. Just six days after his passing, Vale beat Nelson 3-1 at home to continue their run.
Following their 2-1 win over Southport on October 12th, the Valiants had racked up ten wins and just a solitary defeat in the start to their season – a stunning riposte to the previous season’s relegation form.
- Halifax Town 1-2 Port Vale (W)
- New Brighton 0-1 Port Vale (W)
- Port Vale 5-0 Barrow (W)
- Port Vale 5-1 New Brighton (W)
- Wrexham 0-2 Port Vale (W)
- Lincon City 3-2 Port Vale (L)
- Port Vale 4-0 Wigan Borough (W)
- Port Vale 2-0 Crewe Alex (W)
- Carlisle United 1-4 Port Vale (W)
- Port Vale 3-1 Nelson (W)
- Southport 1-2 Port Vale (W)
Stats for first eleven games:
- 32 goals scored
- Just eight conceded
- Five clean sheets
- Goalscorers – Pynegar (10), Jennings (6), Baxter (5), Griffiths (5), Baxter (4), Anstiss (2)
What happened during the rest of the season?
- Coach Tom Morgan was appointed to succeed Schofield.
- The team continued their fine form to the festive period recording a further five wins and three draws.
- The side were coasting to promotion but like other Vale sides there was still a chance for a potential derailment. Star player Jack Mandley was sold to Aston Villa. Supporters protested and the club responded by bringing in Harry Marshall to replace him.
- March’s wobble wasn’t enough to put Vale off. They finished the season with five straight wins to win the Third Division (North) title by four points.
- It was the club’s first promotion since joining the Football League and they had done it in style. It was a tremendous effort from a side which had been relegated the previous campaign and which had lost their manager in mid-season.
Selected player bios
Pictured: Jimmy Oakes and Roger Jones
- Sam Jennings: the 31 year-old finished the season as top-scorer with 27 goals. He was sold to Stockport County in 1931 and would tragically lose his life during World War Two.
- Albert Pynegar: the 34 year-old finished as second highest scorer with 22 goals. He also left the club in 1931.
- Harry Griffiths: the goalscoring midfielder would go on to earn an International call-up from Wales.
- Jimmy Oakes: the left-back is widely regarded as one of the club’s finest-ever players. He would make over 250 appearances for the club.
- Roger Jones: the long-serving left-half would make over 300 appearances for Vale.
- Robert Connelly: another long-serving player, Bob would also make over 300 appearances for the club.
- Billy Briscoe: the long-serving player would fittingly make his final appearances for the club during this promotion season. His Vale career would finish with 314 appearances for the Valiants.
- Tom Morgan: the former Vale player had worked as scout, reserve manager and coach before being appointed manager. He would have two spells in charge of the side finishing with 87 wins from 188 games in charge.
Pictured: long-serving duo Billy Briscoe and Bob Connelly
Stats for the 1929-30 season:
- 103 goals scored
- Just 37 goals conceded
- Nineteen clean sheets
- 30 wins, seven draws and just five defeats
- Top goalscorers: Jennings (27), Pynegar (22), Anstiss (15), Griffiths (14)