We continue our look at our opponents for next season in League 1.
We continue our look at every League 1 opponent by profiling Port Vale.
Who are this lot then?
Port Vale, who are otherwise known as the Valiants, are facing their third season back in League One following promotion from League Two in the 2012-13 season. This season marks their first without Tom Pope, who has been the club’s top scorer in each of the last three campaigns. Pope has joined Bury.
Did they get up to much last season?
The Valiants ended last season in 18th position, sandwiched between Coventry City, in 17th, and our Essex rivals Colchester United, in 19th. Port Vale finished just four points above the relegation zone.
Who's the boss?
Rob Page was named as the boss at Vale Park following a caretaker spell that began after Micky Adams tendered his resignation in September 2014. He was appointed on a permanent basis at the end of October after leading the club seven places up the league table in six weeks, and signed a new two-year deal in May 2015 despite a poor end to the season. Page played in defence for Watford, Sheffield United and Coventry City during his playing days, and was capped 41 times for Wales at senior level.
Any stand out players?
31-year-old midfielder Chris Birchall is back at the club where he launched his career in 1993 at the age of nine. He went on to play for Coventry City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Los Angeles Galaxy, as well as representing Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Other notable names include goalkeeper Chris Neal and forward Uche Ikpeazu, who has joined on loan from Premier League side Watford for the coming season.
Anthony Grant will be turning out in the white and black of Port Vale next season, three years after his departure from Roots Hall. Grant signed for Southend United in 2008 after a successful loan spell which saw Chelsea make the then 21-year-old available for transfer. He racked up 184 appearances for the club across a four-year spell, before opting to leave in 2012 to join Stevenage. Grant spent one season at Broadhall Way, before heading to Crewe Alexandra, where he spent two seasons before linking up with Port Vale. Others to have pulled on both clubs’ shirts include Peter Clarke, Billy Paynter and Gavin Tomlin.
What's the ground like?
Port Vale play their home games at Vale Park, and the ground opened in 1950 with the Valiants moving in to their current home straight away. The ground can hold 19,052 supporters. The away end at Vale Park is able to accommodate 4,500 visiting fans, and also houses the club’s electric scoreboard. The pitch is prone to freezing, due to the grass pitch being based upon a layer of clay, although the club have been looking at installing undersoil heating.
How far away is the place?
A trip to Vale Park and back (from Southend) will see you fall just short of the 400 mile mark, covering 390 miles.
Any big name fans?
The club’s most famous celebrity fan is Robbie Williams. The 17-time BRIT award-winner famously invested £240,000 in the club back in 2006, which led the club to name the restaurant at Vale Park after him. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, who has won the World Championship of darts 16 times and is widely-regarded as the greatest darts player of all-time, is also a supporter of the club.
Good memories against them?
Port Vale have the advantage when it comes to past meeting with Blues, with the Valiants winning 24 meetings, in comparison to 22 victories for Blues. However, a draw has been the most common scoreline. The two sides have drawn on 30 separate occasions. The last clash between the two came in March 2013, when Blues won 2-1 at Vale Park with goals from Sean Clohessy and Britt Assombalonga.
What are the odds on that?
Port Vale are 100/1 to win the division, 28/1 to earn promotion and 6/4 to plummet into League Two.