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Address: Hamil Road,
Capacity: 20,552 (All-Seater)
The exterior of Vale Park feels in place with the surrounding area.
Its interior on the other hand, is very contrasting in colour.
Opened in 1950, it has been the home of Port Vale Football Club ever since.
The move came following news that the club was going to be evicted from their previous home of The Old Recreation Ground by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
A site on Hamil Road was bought in 1944 which was close to another of Vale’s former homes Burslem Park.
The initial plan was to build an 80,000-capacity ground and it was dubbed ‘The Wembley of the North’ as a result, though upon opening the ground held a still impressive capacity of 40,000.
Renovations over the years, including the full conversion to an all-seater venue in the 1990s, has seen that capacity decrease significantly, but it still remains one of the larger grounds in English football.
Location and Getting There
Vale Park is based in Burslem, around 2.5 miles north of Stoke-on-Trent City Centre. The centre of Burslem is less than 0.5 miles to the southwest of the stadium, with Burslem Park even closer to the southeast. Sproson Park is to the north of the ground and heading due west eventually brings you to Westport Lake.
You can easily find free parking spaces that are within close distance of Vale Park.
I’ve personally found luck north of the ground on Dolly’s Lane, but there should be spaces available closer to the centre of Burslem, further north towards Stanfield, or further east towards High Lane. Be sure though to check for any parking restriction notices that could be in place on certain roads.
The closest railway station to Vale Park is Longport, next to Queensway (A500) and around 1.5 miles west of the stadium.
Walking from the station to the ground can take around 30 minutes through Middleport and Burslem, but as an alternative you can walk a short distance to Longport Road and take the 98 Bus Service to the Hamil Road stop, walking the final part up to the stadium’s southern side. This bus however only runs every 30 minutes.
Outside the Stadium
Most fans approach the South Stand of Vale Park first, which is better known as the Hamil Road Stand after the street running outside the back of it.
The main part of the stand has a brickwork exterior and white corrugated iron roof with turnstiles spread out across it.
Over towards the southwest corner are two buildings. The larger of these to the right is a gym but there is a small opening on its western side where the Away Ticket Collections Centre is located. The smaller of these two buildings holds Port Vale’s Club Shop and Main Ticket Office.
Another small white building a little out beyond the Hamil Road Stand holds a pub called Tommy Cheadle’s. It is named after the late Port Vale captain who was part of one of Port Vale’s must successful sides in the club’s history. Between 1946 and 1957 Cheadle played over 300 times for the Valiants, winning both the old Third Division North title and reaching the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup in 1954.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction brings you to the West Stand, better known as the Railway Stand as the tracks are out beyond this side of the ground. This western side is split into a lower tier known as the Railway Paddock and an upper tier known as the Railway Stand.
Turnstiles 10-14 are for those in the Railway Paddock. Turnstiles 10-12 are based at the stadium's southwest corner, beyond the Port Vale Club Shop. Turnstiles 13-14 are around the corner.
The outer concourse of the Railway Stand is perched atop a grass bank and you can only get right up to it if you have a ticket for there, as the turnstiles are down the bottom of the bank along a path which passes along outside. Fans use Turnstiles 15-18 to reach the Railway Stand, which are split into two blocks of 15-16 and 17-18. These can be found at the southern end of the stand near Turnstiles 13-14.
Head up along the path at the bottom of the grass bank and you'll come to Turnstiles 20-24 around the stadium's northwest corner. These are disused however. Turnstile 19 is not marked anywhere. The path can be used as a way for supporters to get from the southern end of Vale Park to the northern end of Vale Park.
The other side of a fence from this path is a car park used by supporters on a matchday. It is next to a Synectics Solutions building.
The North Stand at Vale Park is known as the Bycars Stand after the lane that runs right along the back of it.
Turnstiles into this stand are based on Bycars Lane, though there are a couple a little way off the road which lead up to Vale Park’s northwest corner (these specific turnstiles aren't that often in use however.
The lower part of the stand’s exterior where the turnstiles are based has a brickwork design, whilst the upper parts use the same white corrugated iron that is common with the rest of Vale Park.
The Main Stand is on the eastern side of Vale Park. It is better known though as the Lorne Street Stand after the road out beyond it.
The stand is the most modern-looking of the four at Vale Park, with its exterior made up mostly of brickwork and large glass windows, whilst large grey panels can be found up towards the top.
The Main Reception Entrance is part of a large glass pane in the centre of the Lorne Street Stand, with the Home Team Entrance to the right of here and the Away Team Entrance to the left.
Turnstiles are either side of these team entrances, with the Vale Park Enterprise Centre entrance up towards the southeast corner and the Disabled Stand based in the northeast corner of Vale Park.
Out beyond the Main Reception Entrance is a statue of Roy Sproson.
Born in Burslem on 23rd September 1930, Sproson holds the all-time appearance record for Port Vale, making 842 appearances for the Valiants over a 22-year spell. He would also manage the club between 1974 and 1977.
Regarded as one of Port Vale's most iconic figures, he passed away on 24th January 1997 at the age of 66. The statue pf Roy Sproson has been in place outside Vale Park since November 2012.
The statue’s base also pays homage to Phil Sproson, Roy’s nephew who played 500 times for Port Vale between 1977 and 1989, and also Roy’s brother Jesse who played for the Valiants between 1940 and 1947 when his career was cut short by injury.
It’s safe to say that the Sproson Family hold legendary status at Vale Park and among Port Vale’s followers.
Inside the Stadium
What you instantly notice when you head inside to your seat at Vale Park is how brightly coloured the seating areas are. It’s very contrasting to the colour scheme outside the ground and does really help to brighten up the place.
The Hamil Road Stand consists of a single tier of yellow seating. The letters PORT VALE are spelt out in black across the back rows of the stand, with the letters FOOTBALL CLUB spelt out in black across the front rows.
Supporting pillars come down from the roof about half-way up the seating area and these will restrict your view if you are sat towards the back. Your view of the pitch however will be perfectly clear if you are down towards the front.
Windshields are in place at either end of the Hamil Road Stand, but they do not protect the front row seats. Small walls are in place here instead but do not provide quite as good cover.
An electronic scoreboard hangs down from the roof which can be seen by every fan in the stadium except for those in the Hamil Road Stand itself.
The Railway Stand is divided into two tiers, with both levels a similar size to one another. A low, black brick wall separates the two tiers from one another, and there are access gates along it which stewards can open to allow supporters through.
The bottom tier is made up of yellow seating with the letters PVFC spelt out in black across the central blocks. A lot of the seats in this tier though have had their bright colour faded away slightly over time. The seats in the upper tier are light grey in colour with the letters VALIANTS spelt out in white across the central blocks.
Your view from almost every seat in the lower tier is perfectly clear, but supporting pillars come down regularly from the roof about half-way up and so the majority of seats in the upper tier have a somewhat restricted view in places.
A large windshield over by Vale Park’s southwest corner covers every row in the upper tier but hardly any of the lower tier seats, with a small wall in place down there to provide protection.
The other side of the Railway Stand is protected by the northwest corner.
Seats in this part of the stadium are coloured blue and they feel out of place when compared to the rest of the interior’s colour scheme.
Supporting pillars come down at the front of the seating blocks and will almost guarantee a restricted view to anyone sat inside here.
The Bycars Stand consists of a single tier that is divided into two sections, though you can freely get between one section and the other. The seats in this stand are yellow though a very large number of them have had their colour faded over time.
Supporting pillars are in place half-way up the stand and will restrict the view for most fans sat in the blocks at the back, though anyone sat down towards the front will have a perfectly clear view of the action from behind the north goal.
The Lorne Street Stand only came to completion in April 2020. For a long time, half of the single-tiered seating area didn't have its yellow seats in place, but these have finally been added and makes the stand look much better.
There are two rows of executive boxes at the back of the Lorne Street Stand which are stacked on top of one another, and there is an analogue clock attached to the centre of the very top row. The executive seating blocks are coloured blue and based in the row underneath the analogue clock.
Port Vale’s changing rooms, dugouts and tunnel are all based in the middle of this stand, with the disabled supporters are over by the northeast corner.
Your view from any of the seats in this stand is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof, and a large windshield is in place by the southeast corner.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the Hamil Road Stand.
Small crowds are kept in a couple of blocks towards the back of the stand and usually near to the southeast corner, whilst more blocks can be opened for use depending on the size of the away crowd.
The Hamil Road Stand is already well segregated from the rest of Vale Park and it is very easy to hold both small and large away followings inside of here, the only downside being that there is a fair chance you may end up with a slightly restricted view from one of the supporting pillars.
Pubs available to supporters include*:
-The Bulls Head (14 St John's Square, ST6 3AJ) (Away Supporters Welcome) (Located in more central Burslem)
-The Post Office Vaults (3 Market Place, ST6 3AA) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located in more central Burslem)
-The Red Lion (3 Moorland Road, ST6 1DJ) (Located in central Burslem)
-Ye Olde Crown (10A Westport Road, ST6 4AW) (Home Supporters Only) (Located in more central Burslem)
*Many pubs within Burslem are for home supporters only.
Vale Park has a notably contrasting colour scheme between its inside and outside. The exterior of the ground isn’t anything flashy, but it feels very in place as part of the Burslem landscape. The interior meanwhile is a vibrant collection of bright coloured seats and will look even better now that the remaining Lorne Street Stand seats have been added.
Views are not great if you have a preference towards being at the back of a stand, but this ground is certainly capable of holding both small and large crowds on a matchday.
Certainly worth checking out.
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