Countdown of legends continues ...

By David Watters

The countdown of the EVO-STIK League's top one hundred players before the greatest player of all time is crowned during Saturday night's end of season awards continues tonight!

After thousands of votes and nominations from fans, clubs and members of the media for their top 100 players over the course of the Northern Premier League's historic 50th anniversary 2017-18 season, the winner and the stars in second and third place will be named at Blackpool's Hilton Hotel after the countdown kicked off at 7pm on Monday night with the legends from 100 down to 91.

Ten more NPL stars of the last five decades from 90 to 81 were revealed tonight with the rest to come in descending order at 7pm every night this week before the top 40 are named on Saturday in the run-up to the annual party for more than 400 guests on the Fylde coast.

Giant screens at the event, as well as the competition's social media channels broadcasting the celebrations live, will reveal the top seven players live on the night while clubs and players collect their accolades before EVO-STIK League chairman Mark Harris brings the week long countdown to a climax with the top three and a salute to all the legends.

Number 90 David Bainbridge

Number 90 David Bainbridge

Launched last September, the online poll to choose the top 100 players to feature in a specially commissioned book charting the NPL's proud history since 1968 captured the public’s imagination within hours of opening with more than 2,000 players nominated and thousands of votes subsequently cast.

NPL50 Top 100 Players
90 to 81 ...

90 David Bainbridge
Buxton pulling off the signing of record appearance holder Bainbridge was undoubtedly former manager Martin Turner's finest act during his spell at the helm. ‘Bammer’ as he is affectionately known, stamped his authority on every game he played over nearly three decades despite his advancing years before finally hanging up his boots in May 2006 with 642 appearances to his name in two spells between 1982 and 2006. During the closing weeks of the 2001-2002 season he also performed admirably as a player-manager, steering the Bucks away from relegation with three wins and three draws in eight matches after stepping up following the resignation of former manager Mark Smith. A Buxton legend, he was honoured by the EVO-STIK League Premier Division club last season when the boardroom at Silverlands was named after him.

89 Eddie Murray
Now 55, Eddie was a flying winger who kicked off his career in the Football League with Tranmere Rovers from 1987 to 1989 before playing for Altrincham and in both of Marine’s championship years in the 1990's to become a firm favourite with the fans during eight seasons at the Crosby club. A regular scorer for the Mariners between 1990 and 1998, one of his FA Cup goals against Stafford Rangers in the Second Round once made Match of the Day’s ‘goal of the month’ shortlist.

Number 89 Eddie Murray

Number 89 Eddie Murray

88 Kevin O'Brien
Everton’s U18s goalkeeping coach trained with the Toffees as a schoolboy before going on to play in an impressive 813 games in 13 years at a semi-professional level with Marine. Between the sticks in the two championship-winning Mariners sides of the 1990's and kept numerous clean sheets in 1994-95 when the team only lost two league games. As a player, Kev’s career highlight was reaching the Third Round of the FA Cup in the 1992-93 season.

87 Steve Nicholson
A firefighter by day and an experienced defender who captained Emley on their great run in the FA Cup in 1997, Nicholson went on to manage Wakefield FC before spending a number of seasons on the management team of Ossett Albion. In 2002, he was honoured as the only Northern Premier League player invited to tour Indonesia and Vietnam with the sporting ambassadors of the Middlesex Wanderers.

86 Barry Whitbread
Known to have played for Altrincham, Lancaster City and Runcorn, the forward, who went on to manage the Singapore national side, will probably best be remembered as a player at Runcorn, even though he did have a spell in charge as manager between 1988 and 1990. During his career there he went on to make six appearances in total for the England Non-League team. Barry was among the goals for most his spell with the club and was eventually transferred to Altrincham in October 1979, making him the club’s costliest player at that time. In the championship winning side of 1975-76, he scored a creditable 29 goals but that season was pipped to the ‘golden boot’ award by Trevor Finnegan, who scored an amazing 43 goals.

85 Gareth Williams
The former Ashtington, Benfield, Blyth Spartans, Whitley Bay and South Shields defender was known as 'Mr Consistent' at Spartans in the 2000's with over 350 appearances for the club in both the NPL and then Football Conference. The right-back returned to the EVO-STIK League a decade later last season as a member of the quadruple-winning South Shields side who went on to win promotion in May as EVO-STIK League North Division champions.

Number 88 Kevin O'Brien

Number 88 Kevin O'Brien

84 Gavin Allott
A prolific scorer at a host of clubs including Worksop Town, Frickley Athletic, Dinnington Town, Parkgate, Guiseley, Belper Town and Shaw Lane, the striker originally signed for Frickley in July 2012 from Worksop Parramore in the NCEL. He enjoyed a couple of spells at Goole AFC as well as a short time at Guiseley and a spell on loan at Worksop Town. Also played for Belper Town, Dinnington Town, Parkgate before signing for Shaw Lane AFC in 2016. Since the inaugural Northern Premier League Player of the Season Awards in 2012, Gavin has been the most decorated player with two ‘player of the season’ accolades and three appearances as a finalist for the ‘supporters’ player of the season’ gong. Has also collected several ‘golden boots’ during a goal-laden career.

83 Tom Tonks
Will always be highly regarded by Stourbridge fans after helping the Glassboys reach the Third Round of the FA Cup two seasons ago, including scoring with a 50 yard strike. First joined Stourbridge from Halesowen Town in June 2015 but moved on to AFC Telford in December 2015 before returning in March 2016. A hard-working central midfielder who also played for Brocton, he has a tremendous long throw in his armoury. The former skipper re-signed for the Glassboys in the summer in 2016 after leaving to join Solihull Moors.

82 Jake Cottrell
Known to have played for Oldham Town, FC United of Manchester and Chorley, the all-action midfielder is famed for never giving the opposition a rest. Jake kicked off his career at Oldham Town before moving to FC United. In his first season at Gigg Lane he swept the board in the end-of-season awards and later scored famous goals in the FA Cup for the Red Rebels against Rochdale and Brighton & Hove Albion - his stunning left-footed strike helping the then NPL club beat Rochdale 3-2 in the First Round and leading to him being voted E.ON Player of the Round. After 182 appearances and nine goals, the 29-year-old went to play a key role in Chorley’s EVO-STIK League Premier division title success of 2014.

81 Daniel Toronczak
The former Belper Town, Chester, Clitheroe, Liversedge, Ossett Albion and Ossett Town forward was enlisted as an honourary member of Chester’s Deva Chat after his two goals for Ossett Albion on the final day of the season in 2011 ensured Chester won promotion from the Northern Premier League in the most dramatic of fashions at Garforth Town. A popular figure after switching to Ossett Town’s Ingfield, Daniel also went on to enjoy a stint at Clitheroe after previously turning out for Liversedge and Belper Town.

Number 87 Steve Nicholson

Number 87 Steve Nicholson

Main image courtesy of Rob Lock

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Number 86 Barry Whitbread

Number 85 Gareth Williams

Number 84 Gavin Allott

Number 83 Thomas Tonks

Number 82 Jake Cottrell

Number 81 Daniel Toronczak

Where next?

Hilton heading into a fifth season Chris Hilton will be guiding Stocksbridge Park Steels for a fifth successive season when the 2018-19 EVO-STIK League campaign kicks off.
Everyone wins in Wednesday's draw! Get lucky in Wednesday night's NPL Lotto draw while raising funds for the EVO-STIK League's clubs and official charity Sports Traider all summer!

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