Here’s how supporters remember the epic FA Cup victory over Spurs at Vale Park in January 1988…
Port Vale 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup fourth round, 1988
See our complete coverage of the Port Vale v Spurs FA Cup game
I had seen big teams come to Vale Park before and they always saw us off (West Ham, 1973 springs to mind), never thought we could do it but the excitement of going 2-0 up was unreal. Brought down to earth when Spurs pulled one back but the slow realisation we just might do this grew and grew until the final whistle euphoria.
It started a few weeks before the game, in a Army barracks in a Munster, West Germany, a few of us gathered around the radio listening to the cup draw….couldn’t believe it, home to Spurs…..I have to go! speak nicely to the boss to arrange the weekend off. Ferry tickets booked Zeebrugge to Dover, got home to Market Drayton on the Friday evening before the game, tickets had been sorted by the family. The day had finally arrived, traditional pre match brunch, football focus on TV, excitement building…..off to the ground, crowds everywhere, nowhere to park, had to get dropped off and walk to the ground, into the Bycars end and take my place standing on the wall at the back of the stand, scarfs tied to each wrist… there was a young lad stood beside me with his dad, so I offered him one of my scarfs… the game itself was a bit of a blur, ecstasy and agony in equal measures finger nails bitten, voice gone… we won! Home and get ready to watch Match of the Day… watched and recorded it, seeing Phil Sprosons image on the screen at the end of the programme.! Sunday morning… breakfast, watch match of the day several more times and then drive back to Germany.
Memories hearts pumping voices stretched to the maximum surely the supporters that day made the twelfth man. The pitch was heavily watered before the game all the canals must have been drained. Spurs didn’t fancy that and when the vales goals went in there was enough noise to take the roof of Britannia stadium. One of Vale’s classics along with Everton. Arsenal and Liverpool.
I was 24 years old, already a veteran of many years following the Vale. We had a laugh watching Saint and Greavsie on the lunchtime show – I’ll never forget Greavsie’s comments about “where’s the Vale ground?” and he ridiculed the possibility of Spurs losing to the Vale. We had our usual pre-match pint and headed to the ground, noticing the size of the crowd. I can only vaguely remember Ray Walker’s goal but I do recall well Phil Sproson’s…. we went absolutely mental! I had lost my voice before the end and had tears of joy before the final whistle from the most poignant part for me….the crowd just were in unison: “Vale, Vale, Vale!” It was unbelievable. I didn’t get on the pitch like some people did from the Railway paddock, as the police stepped in after some supporters got over the barriers but headed towards the silenced Spurs fans in the Hamil. We stayed a while singing and celebrating… then headed to Burslem for some celebratory pints. What a day.
I got my first ever Port Vale kit from the club shop on the morning of the game. It was about 11am and already by then, you could sense a major buzz around the ground.
I remember being in the Vice Presidents Lounge when the Spurs players arrived. At the time my wife and I were talking to ex chairman Don Ratcliffe and his wife Brenda. Terry Venables walked passed wearing a big coat and as we watched them Brenda said we would win the match as Venables’ coat belt was twisted and that was a sign of bad luck for him. Only superstition? who knows but it convinced Brenda…
Lost my voice cheering them on in the Railway Paddock during the last ten minutes, it did not return until Monday morning. That game was a big turning point for the club, would welcome another boost next season…
I remember clearly the boost we got when we found out Ardiles wasn`t fit enough to play, suddenly after a few beers we thought we had a chance…
Pre-game I just hoped we could give them a game. But after 20 minutes it was game on! That gave the crowd and the team the lift that they needed and Spurs seemed intimidated by the situation and could settle into the game.
A young Neil Ruddock had a nightmare of a game nearly scoring an own goal early on, but his goal after 70 odd minutes led to a tense and nervy finale. Never before had I been in such a terrific atmosphere and the Vale Park crowd definitely dragged us over the line that day!