30 year period in Potteries Football comes to an end:
Before being hired by Stoke City, John Rudge was one of the most successful managers in the history of local rivals Port Vale. In a 16 year period with the club, Rudge had transformed them from a fourth tier club, into a side pushing to get promotion into the first tier. Unfortunately, he failed to do so and following a poor run of results (which saw Rudge register 12 defeats in 15 games), refused a Director of Football role at Vale Park despite attaining almost legendary status at the Burslem-based club. Rudge did however cause controversy as he left to join the other team in the Potteries, and he was to help transform them from the inferior to the best team in the area as he was a part of a 14 year spell which saw the Potters finally reach the top.
Rudge didn’t have the easiest spell at the Britannia Stadium and has been Director of Football at the club under 5 different managers (Megson, Thordarsson, Cotterill, Boskamp & Pulis) enjoying his best spells under Tony Pulis. Under Johan Boskamp, he fell out with the manager during a fixture with Coventry City and Boskamp (who didn’t last too long) delivered the board with an ultimatum that either Rudge left or he did. Luckily, Rudge was reinstated at the club and has now helped be a part of the Tony Pulis success story. Alex Ferguson once said upon the departure of Rudge from Vale Park “Every Port Vale supporter should get down on their knees and thank The Lord for John Rudge”. Clearly his impact at Vale was incredible, and it speaks volumes of his character that he can remain loved by both sets of fans despite moving straight from one club to another.
Rudge will be sorely missed at the club in what is being christened a “major shake-up” of the backroom staff. I think we can take a look at some of the great times that John Rudge has been involved with at this club. He has seen the club promoted twice, reach Wembley twice, compete in Europe and even sustain life in the top division for 4 years going on 5 years. It’s been an incredible period for the club and I think we can all take some time to appreciate the work that Rudge has done in his role as ‘DoF’. Often a confusing role to identify, Rudge has been quoted as working 60-70 hours a week in his role in assisting Tony Pulis, taking the workload from the Welshman when needs be. In the new era of Stoke City, Rudge and the title of Director of Football seems to have been deemed unnecessary, so hopefully the appointment of Mark Cartwright will help take some more workload from the manager. In a stressful job like this, having the right people around you is how you cope through the bad times, and often we forget how many staff members make up a football club. I just want to say thank you to John Rudge for the work he has done at this club and wish him all the best for the future. ‘Rudgey’ will be sorely missed.