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Official Review by Gary Foxall, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Port Vale are one of two soccer teams from the city of Stoke-on-Trent. The club’s Vale Park stadium has been its home since 1950 and can be found in the district of Burslem. The Vale play in the fourth tier of the English professional game and it is here where they have spent most of their past.
Vale Park is a typical lower league stadium with seats bolted to the terraces to comply with the Taylor Report and making Vale Park a 19,052 all seated stadium. Personally, a trip to Vale Park is always enjoyable; the stadium has kept its character through the years with the minor rebuilding work that has taken place. The ground previously consisted of four separate stands but now has two of the corners filled in.
The Lorne Street main stand houses the club’s offices and other facilities. This is one of the larger stadiums in the lower echelons of the Football League and the club’s record attendance is 49,768 set in 1960 for a game against Aston Villa. The most famous supporter of Port Vale FC is none other than one Robbie Williams.
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There are various food and drink kiosks within the stadium selling Cornish pasties, pies, hot dogs and burgers. There is also tea, coffee and soft drinks available. Beer and lager are also available for consumption within the stadium's concourse. The locally produced pies are worth trying and are good value and filling.
For a fairly large venue at this level of the English Pyramid, Vale Park has a good atmosphere. When you enter Vale Park you get a feel of what English football is about. Away from the glitz of the Premier League, if you have yet to sample lower league football in England this is a good place to start.
Made up of six separate towns, Stoke-on-Trent is the home of the Pottery Industry and the area is commonly known as the Potteries. There are many museums to mark the city's pottery and coal mining industry. Festival Park houses the water park and Trentham Gardens with its own Monkey Forest, a mere five minute drive from the stadium. The Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley has all the major stores with a good selection of theatres and cinemas also near.
The Alton Towers Theme Park Resort is the area's best known attraction and this is a thirty minute drive away near to the town of Uttoxeter.
There are a number of public houses in Burslem that are used as pre match watering holes with the Bulls Head a ten minute walk from the ground and is highly recommended.
Port Vale have a hard core support of approximately 4,000 which can rise to over 6,000 when the club is playing well. Most of the vocal support comes from the Railway Stand and supporters change ends within this stand to be at the goal which Port Vale are attacking. The club's biggest rivals are Stoke City, but games between the two clubs are few and far between as there are currently three leagues between the two. Therefore more traditional rivals are Crewe Alexandra with games between the two clubs taking place most seasons.
Exit the M6 motorway at Junction 16 and take the A500 towards the city centre. Then take the Burslem exit and follow the town centre signs and the stadium will be signposted. Parking is available in the adjoining side streets or on local car parks for between £3 and £4. The nearest railway station is Longport, a twenty-five minute walk away which has connections to the main line Stoke-on-Trent station. Buses run from the city centre and the nearest airports are Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.
Admission prices for games are £22 with reductions for children and OAP's. This does buy you a seat, although some supporters prefer to stand where appropriate. Admission prices are sometimes reduced for cup games dependent upon the quality of opposition. Prices are normal for this level of football and although expensive, this is cheaper than their Premier League neighbours down the road at Britannia Stadium.
There is a club shop by the main entrance to the stadium selling a range of replica strips and souvenirs. Betting outlets are available within the stadium and the club produces an excellent match day programme priced at £3.
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14 Saint John's Sq
Stoke-on-Trent, England ST6 3AJ
Trentham, England ST4 8AY
01782 659 845
Stoke-on-Trent, England ST1 1PS
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