Port Vale were formed and are still based in Burslem. According to club records, they were officially formed in 1876. The reason for the club’s name remains a mystery to this day. In Jeff Kent’s book on Port Vale – The Valiants Years -he claims that it is from a canal wharf called Port Vale near Burslem, that the club took its name. However, other historians argue that the club was created following a meeting at a building called Port Vale House on Burslem’s Limekiln Road and it is from this house that the club took its name.
Their first ground was actually situated in this street. From here Vale moved to a pitch by Westport Lake, then for two years used some waste ground on Moorland Road before settling at the Cobridge Stadium which was to be their home from 1886 until 1913. Vale had by this time adopted the name Burslem Port Vale and were elected to the Football League in 1891 as members of Division Two. In 1896 they failed to gain re-election and returned to the Midland League. In 1907 the Club were forced to resign due to financial difficulties and almost went into oblivion. The prefix ‘Burslem’ was dropped from the name as the Old Recreation Ground was acquired in the centre of Hanley in 1912.
The club’s current home is Vale Park. It was built in the 1950s replacing the old Recreation Ground, which is now situated beneath the Potteries shopping centre. Ambitious plans were drawn up to make it the “Wembley of the North”. Unfortunately for the loyal followers of the club, the only similarity appears to be in the construction work ongoing.
Vale played in a variety of different strips in their early days. The team played in claret and blue, green, black, red and even red and white shirts before the first black and white design was adopted in 1911. The second black and white strip came in 1954, replacing yellow and black stripes on the request of the then manager Freddie Steele.
Claiming it was a manly looking strip it has, barring the 1969/70 season which saw all-white, remained the first choice ever since, obviously with slight variations such as the short-lived addition of a ‘V’ to the shirt front in 1982. In the main however over recent years Port Vale have sported white shirts and black shorts.
The ‘Valiants’ as they are known, deriving from the “Vale” in the club’s name, took on the shield of Burslem’s arms as their first insignia. These were granted in 1878 and consist of gold and red quarters with two vertical and two horizontal stripes interlaced and counter-charged. In the first and fourth quarters there’s a Portland vase, in the second a scythe, and in the third silver fret. With all due respect to you Valiants these elements are accounted for in the chapter of a certain other club. At times this emblem was illustrated together with the Stafford knot. Originally this was a badge of the Earls of Stafford. As a civic emblem it was first used by the town of Stafford. A tradition has it that this place was so infested with rogues that it was necessary to devise a noose, which would enable them to be hanged three at a time.
Anyway, the late Seventies saw the introduction of a badge with a valiant knight on a horse, depicted in a giant ‘V’ together with the club name. This design gave way to the winner of a badge design contest for local school children and introduced for the 1982/83 season. It’s a shield, its quarters holding the initials PVFC and the club’s nickname, completed with a Stafford knot and a ‘pot bank’ or kiln similar to those used in the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent. Today’s badge stems from the late Eighties. An elegant sash with the club’s full name and foundation year has replaced the initials. The knot and the kiln are still there.
A short-live campaign at the turn of the century saw the local press try and give Vale the nickname of ‘The Colliers’ as this was felt to be more in keeping with the local industry than the ‘Valiants’. Fortunately it never took off and ‘Valiants’ stuck as the nickname. No press, supporters only please.