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Just as is the case with most of the current lower tier rosters across both England and the world as a whole, they can’t really boast with big-money superstar signings or even if they can, they usually date all the way back to the old glory days.
Port Vale are in a similar situation and their transfer record has stood firm for over 20 years now, going back to the 1997/98 season when they signed Gareth Ainsworth from Lincoln City for a record-breaking sum of £675,000. But little did they know that Ainsworth wouldn’t be dethroned for a long, long time.
Still, it’s safe to say that they really splashed the cash that season since their second-biggest signing of all time has also joined the club in that campaign as Simon Barker was bought from Queens Park Rangers for £457,000. Both of those signings eclipsed the former record-holder, Jon McCarthy, and his £450,000 price tag the Vale paid to York City for his services in 1995/96.
In 1998/99, however, they also penned a contract with Marcus Bent, splashing another £450,000 that saw him match McCarthy’s fee as well. On the other side of the coin, we have a fairly similar situation with the late ‘90s dominating.
Ainsworth was bought for a record fee and he left for an even bigger one, making the Vale a total of £2.7m with his exit to Wimbledon FC in 1998/99. A very similar thing can be said for McCarthy who went to Birmingham City a season before that, also making a nice profit with his £1.8m price tag.
In third place, we have Anthony Gardner for his £1.3m switch to Tottenham Hotspur in 1999/20.
Needless to say, some of the transfers Port Vale made over the years have gone in the history books and then some. All of Simon Mills, Mark Goodlad and Neil Aspin were brought in and would then enjoy incredible spells at the club, becoming legends along the way as well.
And then we have the likes of McCarthy whose transfer, both incoming and outgoing, made quite a splash as he was an incredibly influential player during his stay at the Vale. Of course, the very same thing has to be said about Ainsworth as well, the current record-holder in both categories.
But there are more, like Allen Tankard and Ray Walker, both bargains in their own right that set the stage ablaze wearing the colours of the Vale.