In the 2021-22 Port Vale squad both captain Tom Conlon and striker Eden Bailey have relatives who have also played for the club. Here’s a select list of Port Vale players from the same family…
Top image: the Pursell brothers Bob and Peter
Editorial note: this is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list. We may have missed some off in error. Do feel free to let us know by posting a comment at the end of the article.
Port Vale players from the same family
Tom Conlon, Albert Pearson and George Heppell
Tom Conlon is a worthy Port Vale skipper in his own right, but it’s also nice that the captain comes from a long line of Port Vale players.
Conlon’s great grandfather was George Heppell, a goalkeeper signed in 1937 and who played for the club until 1952, making 203 appearances. Further back, Conlon’s great-great grandfather was Albert Pearson, a forward who made twenty appearances for the club in the early 1920s.
Striker Eden Bailey broke through from the youth ranks to make his senior debut during the 2021-22 season. The striker is the grandson of former Vale player Terry Bailey. Terry was signed from Stafford Rangers for £3,000 in 1974 and made 190 appearances, scoring 29 times.
Going back a little further in time, the Pursell brothers were hugely influential for the club in the 1920s. Peter was the first to join as he headed South from Glasgow Rangers. He was swiftly joined by elder brother Bob. The pair formed a formidable barrier in central defence to such an extent that goalkeeper Teddy Peers was said to spend much of his time chatting to fans during the game. The stats support their reputation as the Pursells were in the team which recorded a club record seven consecutive clean sheets in 1922. Some years later there was a third Pursell to join as Peter’s son, Bob played for the club between 1945 and 1948.
Bob Pursell (snr) and Peter Pursell
Bob Pursell (jnr)
The Hancock family provided not one, but two Port Vale first-team goalkeepers. Younger brother Ken is the most celebrated as he left the Valiants after 250 appearances to have top-flight spells with Tottenham Hotspur and Ipswich Town. Elder brother Ray only played for the Valiants making 50 first-team appearances.
Moving into the late 80’s and early 90’s and striker Darren Beckford was to the fore for the club. The former Manchester City forward was one of the team’s star men and it was no surprise when Norwich City shelled out nearly £1m to buy him in 1991. Darren’s younger brother, Jason, was also on Man City’s books and he had a loan spell with the club in 1991. It is less celebrated being just five appearances but it did include a goal against Grimsby Town.
Here’s a stand-out performance from Jason Beckford in a 2-1 win over Grimsby Town:
Full-back Jim Elsby had a seven year playing career with the Valiants from 1948 to 1955. He made twelve appearances in total. His nephew, Ian Elsby also had a spell, playing fifty times between 1978 and 1981.
The ground breaking Chamberlain brothers often played in the same team in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Younger brother Mark would go on to play for England.
Classy defender Dean Glover is seen as one of legendary manager John Rudge’s most important signings. Glover played a key role in the Rudge glory years but he had a less enjoyable spell as Port Vale manager. While manager he played his son, Danny, upfront for several games, including his final game as boss – a match in which Danny scored.
Finally, it wouldn’t be right to have a Port Vale article about family connections to the club without mentioning the Sprosons. The legendary family produced three players for the club who would make over 1,000 appearances. There’s a special section dedicated to them here