|Full name||Thomas Cheadle|
|Date of birth||8 April 1919|
|Place of birth||Stoke-on-Trent, England|
|Date of death||4 September 1993 74)(aged|
|Place of death||Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, England|
|* 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.
Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Cheadle worked at Mossfield Colliery and in the local pottery industry before he joined the army.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. 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. Cheadle took the advice of Fish and came to The Old Recreation Ground and signed professional forms in March 1946 for £8 a week. He made his league debut in a 4–1 victory against Ipswich Town on 2 March. His first goal was against Southend United in a 2–1 win on 20 April.
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.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. For the 1947–48 season, Cheadle spent 16 straight games as a striker, scoring a patch of seven goals in seven games. He hit a total of eight goals in 23 Third Division South games in 1947–48. 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. Cheadle was one of the starting XI who played in the first match at Vale Park. 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. 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. 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.
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.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. 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. Cheadle featured only 26 times in the Second Division in 1954–55. He played 19 games in 1955–56 and 14 games in 1956–57, as the club suffered relegation under new boss Norman Low. His final game was a 6–0 defeat to Sheffield United on 25 March, a game in which Cheadle scored an own goal.
Now 38 years old, he moved to nearby Cheshire outfit Crewe Alexandra as a player-coach in July 1957.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.
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."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.
Following his retirement, Cheadle became a postman in Porthill.The pub at Vale Park was named Tommy Cheadle's in honour of his contribution to the club.
|Port Vale||1946–47||Third Division South||32||3||5||0||37||3|
|1947–48||Third Division South||23||8||0||0||23||8|
|1948–49||Third Division South||22||2||1||0||23||2|
|1949–50||Third Division South||42||1||4||0||46||1|
|1950–51||Third Division South||32||0||4||0||36||0|
|1951–52||Third Division South||39||0||1||0||40||0|
|1952–53||Third Division North||46||0||2||0||48||0|
|1953–54||Third Division North||38||0||8||0||46||0|
|Crewe Alexandra||1957–58||Third Division North||32||0||1||0||33||0|
Port Vale Football Club is a professional association football club based in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, England. The team competes in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. Port Vale is one of the few English league clubs not to be named after a geographical location, their name being a reference to the valley of ports on the Trent and Mersey Canal. They have never played top-flight football, and hold the records for the most seasons in the English Football League (109) and in the second tier (41) without reaching the first tier. After playing at the Athletic Ground in Cobridge and The Old Recreation Ground in Hanley, the club returned to Burslem when Vale Park was opened in 1950. Outside the ground is a statue to Roy Sproson, who played 842 competitive games for the club. The club's traditional rivals are Stoke City, and games between the two are known as the Potteries derby.
Roy Sproson was an English footballer and football manager for Port Vale. A one-club man, he holds the all-time appearance record for Vale, making 837 starts for Vale between 1950 and 1972. This includes a run of 128 consecutive appearances between April 1954 and March 1957. He is also fourteenth on the all time Football League appearance list.
Frederick Charles Steele was an English professional footballer who played as a forward for Stoke City and England. He also had spells at Mansfield Town and Port Vale as a player-manager, leading Vale to a league title. He remains a legendary figure in the histories of both Stoke and Vale. His nephew is former England cricketer David Steele.
Carl Basil Hayward was an English footballer and manager. He was the younger brother of Doug and Eric Hayward.
Norman Harvey Low was a Scottish football player and manager. He was the son of Scottish international footballer, Wilf Low.
Kenneth James Griffiths was an English footballer. A forward, he scored 59 goals in 221 games in the Football League.
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Alan Bennett was an English footballer who played on the left-wing. He made 133 league appearances in a nine-year career in the English Football League. He played for Port Vale between 1949 and 1957, and was a member of the Third Division North winning side in 1953–54. He retired in 1958, following one season with Crewe Alexandra.
Albert George Leake was an English footballer who played as a half-back.
Stanley Simpson Turner was an English footballer. A tough-tackling defender, he made 246 appearances for Port Vale during one of the club's brightest periods. He helped the "Valiants" to win the Third Division North title and to reach the FA Cup semi-finals in 1953–54.
Colin Askey is an English former footballer who played on the right wing. He made a total of 341 league and cup appearances in a 15-year career in the English Football League, scoring 40 goals. His son, John Askey, played for and managed Macclesfield Town.
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James Elsby was an English footballer. A full-back, he played 12 games in the Football League for Port Vale in a seven-year career at the club from 1948 to 1955. He helped the club to win the Third Division North title in 1953–54. His nephew, Ian Elsby, also played for Port Vale.
The 1953–54 season was Port Vale's 42nd season of football in the English Football League, and their fifth season overall in the Third Division North. Freddie Steele's side were crowned Third Division North champions with 69 points out of a possible 92, eleven points ahead of their nearest rivals. They also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and would be denied an appearance in the final due to a controversial goal from a dubious penalty. These achievements were based upon a record-breaking 'Iron Curtain' defence, and a solid squad of nineteen players, most of whom had taken the club to second in the league the previous season.
The 1956–57 season was Port Vale's 45th season of football in the English Football League, and their third successive season in the Second Division. An unmitigated disaster from start to finish, they were relegated in bottom place with just 22 points from 42 games. It was the end of an era, as the reputation of 'the Steele Curtain' had taken a severe blow, and its architect Freddie Steele left the club in January. The season was considered to be one where the old guard 'cracked', and thus many loyal servants of the club were let go in the summer of 1957, including Ray King, Reg Potts, Stan Turner, Tommy Cheadle, and Stan Smith.