70 years ago – Vale Park’s first competitive game takes place

The 24th August 2020 is the seventieth birthday of the first competitive game to be played at the Vale Park stadium.


About the stadium

Port Vale FC started to look for a new ground in 1944 after being informed by Stoke-on-Trent council that the lease on their Old Recreation Ground stadium would not be renewed.

The Old Recreation Ground stadium
The Old Recreation Ground stadium

Later that year, Hamil Road in Burslem – the site of a former clay pit – was chosen. It was situated opposite Burslem Park, where the club had played its football in the early years of its existence. A hugely ambitious project, it soon became known as the Wembley of the North due to the size and capacity of the ground.

Work on the Vale Park stadium
Work progresses on the Vale Park stadium

At £100, the pitch was the most expensive laid in the country at the time. However, the club ran out of money during the six year build and all the stands could not be completed. The initial cost of the ground was £50,000 and on its opening day it boasted a capacity of 40,000 with 360 seats.

With lack of finances forcing Vale to cut down on their ambitious plans, much of Vale Park was constructed as open terracing. In 1950, after protracted wrangling with the council, the club arranged for the steelwork from the Old Recreation Ground's Swan Passage to be erected on the Bycars terraces.
With lack of finances forcing Vale to cut down on their ambitious plans, much of Vale Park was constructed as open terracing. In 1950, after protracted wrangling with the council, the club arranged for the steelwork from the Old Recreation Ground’s Swan Passage to be erected on the Bycars terraces.

To give some cover to supporters, the Swan Passage stand from the Old Recreation Ground was taken apart, moved across the city and re-erected on the Bycars End as the funds to build an entirely new stand had ran out. A small part of the Swan Passage stand can still be seen above the Family stand and we’ve written an article on that stand.


The old players tunnel at Vale Park stadium, 1950Special features on the Vale Park stadium

We’ve got a number of features on the Vale Park stadium and the links to them are below:


About the game

30,196 fans turned up on August 24th 1950 to see Port Vale FC take on Newport County at their new ground. They sang songs to celebrate the opening (see the images below) and celebrated as forward Walter Aveyard scored the ground’s first goal as Port Vale won 1-0.

songsheet1

songsheet2