‘Let’s see how your bottle is’ – Top three Stoke City wins over Port Vale


To mark 100 years since the first Potteries derby in the Football League, Stoke City reporter Pete Smith has picked out three classic Stoke wins.

Stoke City 2, Port Vale 1

October 24, 1992. Division Two

A tense, crunch game at the top of Division Two, all square with four minutes remaining when Mark Stein sprang the offside trap and ran through, tumbling over advancing keeper Paul Musselwhite.

“There was contact, however minimal,” reported the Sentinel.

Vale fans were furious, Stoke fans didn’t care. Stein, who had been ordered off penalty duty after missing against Leyton Orient a fortnight earlier, grabbed the ball and stroked it into the bottom left corner to be mobbed by the Boothen End.

The prolific striker later recalled: “Swanny (Peter Swan) obviously gave me a bit of abuse and said something like, ‘Let’s see how your bottle is.’

“But I never felt any nerves at all. I was confident I was going to score. The referee actually kept me waiting and I knew the importance of it and knew it was in the last five minutes… but I never had any doubt I was going to score.

“People still ask me now if it was a penalty but Musselwhite made a mistake coming out thinking he could get it and the fact they tried to claim he didn’t was embarrassing really – but it was such a big game.”

Those nerves were just fine. Stein was mobbed by teammates and fans, including one who planted a kiss on his cheek while another kissed the penalty spot.

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Port Vale 0, Stoke City 2

March 31, 1993. Division Two

A throbbing away end at Vale Park – there were 20,373 in that night – saw Stoke go 10 points clear at the top of Division Two.

Nigel Gleghorn got the clinching second but the first stands out still as a beauty from Mark Stein, of course, following what John Butler described himself as a Stanley Matthews-style run down the right wing to tee up the volley.

“It was one of my favourite goals,” said Stein. “It was against Port Vale. We’d played them earlier that month in the Autoglass and I’d missed all those chances and I took a load of stick from their supporters.

“But that game at Vale Park was a defining moment. It was a massive game and I remember scoring at that end which was just full of thousands of Stoke supporters and sending them crazy.

“We played really well that night. I remember coming off and in the changing room we all knew what a big night for us and that probably actually sealed us getting promotion. We were 10 points clear and we knew we weren’t going to make the same mistakes we did the year before.”

Stoke City 1, Port Vale 0

January 8, 1951. FA Cup third round replay

The 1990s made for some great Potteries derbies but so too did the 50s, especially when Stoke superstar striker Freddie Steele crossed the Trent to have spectacular success with the Vale.

But first up came a cracker as top flight Stoke under Bob McGrory met Gordon Hodgon’s Division Two Vale for a blistering FA Cup third round tie. There were 46,777 in the Victoria Ground, the highest attendance for a Potteries derby and the third highest ever for a Stoke home game.

Visitors Vale went 2-0 up through Alan Bennett and Cliff Pinchbeck but Albert Mullard got a brace to level and secure a replay.

And it was another gripping end-to-end match two days later. It might have been a Monday afternoon but 40,903 spectators managed to wangle time off work. That was at the Vic too because newly-built Vale Park’s drainage system couldn’t handle rain and melting snow.

The heavens had opened, light was failing and the pitch was turning into a mud bath by the time Frank Bowyer settled affairs just two minutes from the end of a titanic struggle. He cut inside to fire home for a 1-0 win.

At least Vale pocketed £2,800 in gate receipts while Stoke beat West Ham in the next round before coming a cropper, 4-2, against Newcastle United in front of 48,500 at the Vic.





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