Tommy Cheadle

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Tommy Cheadle
Personal information
Full nameThomas Cheadle [1]
Date of birth(1919-04-08)8 April 1919
Place of birth Stoke-on-Trent, England [1]
Date of death 4 September 1993(1993-09-04) (aged 74) [1]
Place of death Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, England [1]
Position(s) Defender; forward
Senior career*
1946–1957 Port Vale 333 (14)
1957–1959 Crewe Alexandra 37 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Thomas Cheadle (8 April 1919 – 4 September 1993) was an English footballer. He played for Port Vale in various positions for over a decade. It was his time as a "hard-man" centre-back, captaining some of the most successful Vale sides in the club's history, that made Cheadle a legend at the club. He helped the "Valiants" to win the Third Division North title and to reach the FA Cup semi-finals in 1953–54. He ended his career in 1959, following two years with Crewe Alexandra.


Playing career

Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Cheadle worked at Mossfield Colliery and in the local pottery industry before he joined the army. [2] During World War II, in a battlefield in the Netherlands in 1944, he received a shrapnel injury after throwing a faulty grenade that nearly went off in his hand. [3] At a rehabilitation centre, Cheadle spoke to Vale trainer Ken Fish, who told him to report to Port Vale after the war as the club may have a place for him. Playing in Army matches, Cheadle was coached by Matt Busby, who managed to secure a trial for Cheadle for Liverpool against Stoke City. [4] Cheadle took the advice of Fish and came to The Old Recreation Ground and signed professional forms in March 1946 for £8 a week. [1] He made his league debut in a 4–1 victory against Ipswich Town on 2 March. [1] His first goal was against Southend United in a 2–1 win on 20 April. [1]

Signing as a professional in May 1946, he spent the 1946–47 season playing across the back four, and also spent time as a centre-forward in a few games. [1] He played 37 games in 1946–47, and scored his first goal in the Football League at The Old Recreation Ground in a 5–1 win over Reading on 2 November. [1] For the 1947–48 season, Cheadle spent 16 straight games as a striker, scoring a patch of seven goals in seven games. [1] He hit a total of eight goals in 23 Third Division South games in 1947–48. [1] He scored twice in 23 games in 1948–49, before making 46 appearances as a centre-half in 1949–50 under the stewardship of Gordon Hodgson. [1] Cheadle was one of the starting XI who played in the first match at Vale Park. [4] He played 36 games in 1950–51, including a draw with Millwall on 28 October at The Den, a game which he played until the end despite breaking three teeth in a hefty collision. [1] He featured 40 times in 1951–52, surviving Ivor Powell's brief reign to establish himself as a key part of new manager Freddie Steele's first team plans. [1] He was an ever-present throughout the 49 games in the 1952–53 campaign, as the "Valiants" finished as runners-up in the Third Division North. [1]

He was captain during the 1953–54 season, where Vale made it to the FA Cup semi-finals and won the Third Division North title. [1] The team had conceded just 21 goals in 46 games with Cheadle at the heart of the 'Iron Curtain' defence consisting of Ray King (goalkeeper), Cheadle, Reg Potts, Stan Turner and Roy Sproson. [4] In the semi-final clash with West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park he was dispossessed for the "Throstles" equaliser and gave away the penalty for Albion's winning goal. [1] Cheadle featured only 26 times in the Second Division in 1954–55. [1] He played 19 games in 1955–56 and 14 games in 1956–57, as the club suffered relegation under new boss Norman Low. [1] His final game was a 6–0 defeat to Sheffield United on 25 March, a game in which Cheadle scored an own goal. [1]

Now 38 years old, he moved to nearby Cheshire outfit Crewe Alexandra as a player-coach in July 1957. [4] He played 37 league games for the "Railwaymen" as the club finished bottom of the Third Division North in 1957–58 under Maurice Lindley and 18th in the Fourth Division in 1958–59 under the stewardship of Harry Ware. He retired as a player at Gresty Road in 1959.

Style of play

Former teammate Roy Sproson said that: "Tom was quick and strong and nobody could beat him. Pound for pound, in fact, I would say Tom is the hardest man I have ever met." [5] In fact he had 22 stitches in the head after various collisions with opposition players, his toughness earning him the nickname "wooden head" from his teammates. [6]


Following his retirement, Cheadle became a postman in Porthill. [4] The pub at Vale Park was named Tommy Cheadle's in honour of his contribution to the club. [7]


Source: [8]

ClubSeasonDivisionLeagueFA CupTotal
Port Vale 1946–47 Third Division South 32350373
1947–48 Third Division South23800238
1948–49 Third Division South22210232
1949–50 Third Division South42140461
1950–51 Third Division South32040360
1951–52 Third Division South39010400
1952–53 Third Division North 46020480
1953–54 Third Division North38080460
1954–55 Second Division 26000260
1955–56 Second Division19000190
1956–57 Second Division14000140
Crewe Alexandra 1957–58 Third Division North32010330
1958–59 Fourth Division 501060
Career total3701427039714


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  2. Baggaley, Michael (8 April 2019). "Remembering a Port Vale legend - Tommy Cheadle would have been 100 today". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  3. Sherwin, Phil (2013). Men of Steele. Hanley, Staffordshire: Pass. p. 19. ISBN   978-0-9926579-1-8.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Maitland, Chris (17 November 2004). "Tommy Cheadle – Vale defender from 1946 – 1957". Port Vale site. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
  5. Harper, Chris (10 February 1975). "Sproson's Eleven". The Sentinel. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  6. Cheadle, Tommy; Dave Porter (Christmas 1954). "Tommy Cheadle's good Companions". Charles Buchan's Football Annual. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  7. "Tommy Cheadle's". 3 February 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  8. Tommy Cheadle at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
  9. Sherwin, Phil; Askey, Steve (2013), Men of Steele: The story of Port Vale's stunning 1953/54 season, Pass Publishing, ISBN   978-0-9926579-1-8