‘A very fine player’ – Port Vale fans pay tribute to Brian Jackson


Port Vale fans have paid tribute to former winger Brian Jackson, who has died aged 86.

Jackson spent four years at the Vale and was an integral part of the 58/59 side that scored 110 goals on their way to winning the Division Four championship, the last time the Vale won a league title.

Recruited from Liverpool for £1,700 in the summer of 1958, Jackson became a key part of manager Norman Low’s exciting, attacking side.

Supporters certainly responded to Low’s team. Vale’s average crowd in that 58/59 season was more than 12,000, including two home gates of move than 20,000 for games against Crewe and Coventry, both of which featured Jackson goals. 

He scored 34 goals in 178 games for the Vale, and has the distinction of scoring in front of the biggest crowd officially recorded at Vale Park. He netted from the spot in the FA Cup fifth round tie at home to Aston Villa in February 1960 that had 49,768 packed into the ground. 

Jackson was sold to Peterborough for £2,000 in 1962, spending two years there before playing for Lincoln City and Boston.

Former Liverpool and Port Vale player Brian Jackson

Dave Porter, from Biddulph, watched the 58/59 promotion team from the Bycars End.

He said: “Brian was brought in to replace Colin Askey who went to Walsall and did very well there.

“Brian was a very fine player, very speedy, skilful and accurate. He loved getting down the wing and to the byline. People like Stan Steele and Harry Poole scored many goals from Brian getting into those positions and getting the ball across.

“He created a lot of goals in that 58/59 team and was also a goalscorer himself and a very accurate penalty taker.

“We actually started badly that season at home but, when we clicked at home by late September time, we went on a magnificent run. We won 8-0 at home to Gateshead on Boxing Day, then 4-0 away to them a few days later.

“That team had Brian Jackson on the right and Dickie Cunliffe on the left, two popular players who used the big Vale Park pitch to their favour.

The Port Vale 1960/61 team: Top left to right Selwyn Whalley, Dennis Fidler, Ted Calland, Peter Ford, Harry Poole, Graham Barnett. Second row: Roy Gater, Peter Hall, John Poole, Ken Hancock, Roy Sproson, Terry Lowe, Third Row: Terry Miles, Cliff Portwood, Norman Low, Albert Leake, John Archer, David Raine, Bottom row Noel Kinsey, Stan Steele, Barry Hancock, Colin Davies and Brian Jackson.

“It was a very entertaining team full of good players.  Roy Sproson was there, Ken Hancock came into the team and we had Terry Miles, Stan Steele and Harry Poole, three local lads who were big mates and a very popular group.

“We played very attractive football which was a credit to the manager Norman Low.”

Vale were the first winners of the new Division Four in 1958/59. The Football League had previously been split into Division Three North and South and Vale were placed into Division Four after finishing just below half-way in Three North in 1958.

Eddie Jackson, from Oakhill, fondly remembers Jackson in that title-winning team.

He said: “He was not a big lad but was a classy and nippy right winger who created a fair number of the 110 League goals scored by Vale in winning the inaugural Fourth Division title in 1958/59.

“I watched from the terrace on the Hamil End in 1960 when Vale played in front of their still record gate at Vale Park (49,768 with bumper receipts of over £8000). It was in the FA Cup v Aston Villa (then top of what we now call the Championship).

Aston Villa’s goalkeeper can’t keep out Brian Jackson’s penalty

“Villa had scored a lot of goals and included England centre forward Gerry Hitchens. Brian put Vale ahead but two second half goals saw Villa through.

“Brian was a fine player for Vale under a boss who liked to play attacking football.”

Jackson was also part of the Vale’s terrific FA Cup run in 1961-62 as they again reached the fifth round.

He played in the side that held Sunderland to a goalless draw at Roker Park in front of 49,468 and then scored in the replay, along with Harry Poole and Arthur Longbottom to win 3-1 against a Sunderland side featuring Brian Clough.

That earned the Vale a tie away to Fulham and around 5,000 fans followed the team to Craven Cottage, many on four special trains that had been laid on for the game.

Vale lost 1-0 to a late goal but thought they had taken the lead just after half time when Jackson’s cross was jammed against the post by keeper Tony Macedo. The keeper later admitted the ball had crossed the line.

Brian Jackson was born in Walton-on-Thames in 1933 and played as an amateur for Arsenal before joining Leyton Orient. He was signed by Liverpool and spent seven years there, playing 132 games, before joining the Vale.

Liverpool paid tribute to him with a minute’s applause before their Premier League game at home to West Ham on Monday night.

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