Port Vale's giant-killing memories come flooding back ahead of Man City clash in FA Cup


There will be no local fire brigade drenching the pitch when Port Vale tackle ­ Manchester City , but there will still be an FA Cup sparkle in John Rudge’s eyes.

Rudge masterminded cup shocks over three top-flight teams during his 16 years in charge of the Valiants, including a 1988 win over Tottenham when hosepipes formed part of the pre-match preparation.

The 75-year-old’s teams also defeated Everton , the cup ­holders, in 1996 and Southampton two years earlier, and took Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal to ­penalties after a replay in 1998.

Now back at Port Vale in an advisory capacity to manager John Askey, as well as being club president, Rudge admits that memories of those giant-killing days will flood back at the ­Etihad Stadium.

And none more so than his ­innovative approach to toppling Spurs 2-1 over 30 years ago.

Port Vale stunned Tottenham in 1988

Rudge recalled: “The fire ­station wasn’t too far away and I thought the apprentices needed a bit of work.

“We needed extra water to slow Tottenham down ­because they had a great team then and Terry Venables was ­obviously a great manager. Venables went onto the pitch in his new shoes and mud covered them straight away.

“Before the match Saints and Greavsie said on their TV programme that the only thing Spurs needed to worry about was finding the ground. But we had some good players, too, and Ray Walker and Phil Sproson scored the goals to pull off a shock.”

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Rudge remembers his job being at risk before that win over Spurs, but he went on to have 16 years in charge of Port Vale ­before 14 years as director of football at neighbours Stoke. He took Vale – now 10th in League Two – to within touching ­distance of a First Division play-offs campaign that would have provided a chance of top-flight football for the first time in their history.

Phil Sproson scores Vale’s second goal

Vale’s Ray Walker, John Rudge, and Phil Sproson

He was so popular that supporters organised a flat-cap march in his honour when he was sacked in 1999 and super-fan Robbie Williams took to the stage at a gig in Coventry in the same trademark head gear.

Rudge also beat City three times during his spell as Vale manager, including once when he prepared to play 10 versus 10 and have Andy ­Porter mark City magician Georgi Kinkladze out of the game. But there are no pangs of regret that he will be sat in the stands rather than pitting his wits against Pep Guardiola.

Rudge – who counts Sir Alex Ferguson among his confidants – added: “No – this is John Askey’s time now, not mine.

“I’ll do anything to help with contacts, watching players, but this is John’s career.

John Askey looks on

Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus celebrates

“I still enjoy it, I’m in at the club nearly every day and it’s been a massive part of my life.

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“We’ve had some great times in the FA Cup and this will be a great occasion for the club that has created a lot of interest.

“City are a tremendous football team and, compared to what it was like when we beat Spurs, the difference between the Premier League and the league we play in is massive.

“We’re looking forward to it knowing full well that it’s not an impossible task but one that will be incredibly difficult for us.”





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