A Tuesday night double-header is next on the agenda for Derby County as part of their pre-season preparations ahead of the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season.
With the squad split into two separate sides, the Rams will head to Port Vale and Doncaster Rovers as Gary Rowett aims to drill more match minutes into his players’ legs in a more competitive environment.
Two games down, Derby have two wins in the bag after victories over Kidderminster Harriers (4-0) and Macclesfield Town (2-0) and here, dcfc.co.uk puts the microscope on what is up next when they travel to Port Vale.
Our full feature on the trip to Doncaster Rovers can be viewed here.
A Moment In History…
There have been a couple of handful of notable moments in Port Vale’s history, but the early 1950s were, arguably, the Valiants’ greatest.
The turn of the decade began with the opening of Vale Park and after a couple of years of mid-table mediocrity, club legend Freddie Steele was appointed as manager, a move that sparked one of the club’s greatest periods.
Steele was the mastermind behind the renowned ‘Iron Defence’. The 1952/53 season saw the club narrowly miss out on the Third Division North title – losing out to Oldham by a point – but along the way they conceded a remarkable 35 goals from 46.
Vale stormed the league the following year and reach the FA Cup Semi-Finals, where they lost to eventual winners West Bromwich Albion.
Even more impressively, however, was their goals conceded record for the 1953/54 campaign. The Valiants’ goal was only breached 21 times in 46 matches – a Football League record that still stands today.
Ipswich Town, who boasted the next best defensive record, conceded 30 more.
What Happened Last Season…
Port Vale’s four year stay in Sky Bet League 1 came to an end last season after the club tasted relegation.
A 0-0 draw with Fleetwood Town at Highbury was not enough to keep the Valiants up as they slipped back into the fourth tier for the first time since 2013.
Under Bruno Ribeiro, Vale enjoyed a solid start to the season by winning four and drawing two of their first eight games, but their form took a drastic twist after September.
With issues surrounding the club off the pitch, Port Vale won just three further games before the turn of the year.
Ribeiro, the former Leeds United man, resigned on Boxing Day after 1-0 defeat to Walsall, but the club’s fortunes did not pick up and just a further four games were won over the second half of the campaign.
Norman Smurthwaite, the club’s chairman, resigned at the end of the season too as Port Vale quickly set about restabilising ahead of their League 2 campaign.
Vale Park has been Port Vale’s home since 1950 and is widely regarded as being of the EFL’s widest pitches.
The Valiants made the switch to their current stadium after they were informed they would be evicted the Old Recreation Ground by Stoke City Council.
The club’s peak capacity has fluctuated over time, but their record attendance came in 1960 as 49,768 squeezed into Vale Park for an FA Cup meeting with Aston Villa.
After the Valiants made their stadium an all-seater arena, the capacity is now set at 19,052.
Who’s The Boss…
Named as caretaker boss following their resignation of Bruno Ribeiro midway through the 2016/17 season, Michael Brown was appointed as Port Vale’s permanent manager following their relegation to League 2.
He’s a name that will strike a chord with many English football supporters.
A former England Under-21 international midfielder, his hard-tackling style often saw him in the spotlight.
Nevertheless, though, he enjoyed a solid playing career.
After starting out at Manchester City, Brown went on to represent Sheffield United, Fulham, Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth in the Premier League.
After a spell at Leeds United, he moved to Port Vale, where he has put more emphasis into his coaching – initially becoming the club’s assistant manager in 2016, before being appointed caretaker boss and then full-time manager in May 2017.
Who To Look Out For…
They may have been relegated at the end of last season, but that did not stop Michael Brown moving to sign goalscoring hero Tom Pope back to the club this summer from Bury.
The 31-year-old has a big affiliation with the Valiants.
Pope grew up a Port Vale supporter and as a player he scored 69 times over four prolific years.
That included 33 in his remarkable 2012/13 season when he helped fire the Valiants to promotion from League Two.
He was named League Two Player of the Year that season and has also been named Vale's Player of the Year twice. He scored 12 goals in his final season with the club – 2014/15 – despite missing three months of the campaign after knee surgery.
His return represents a huge statement of intent from Brown and he will be hoping his star forward can fire the club back to League 1 sooner rather than later.
Did You Know…
Port Vale have played more seasons in the second tier of English football than any other club – without reaching the top flight. The total is 41 seasons, one ahead of Plymouth Argyle’s 40.