Counting down our top 100 stars!

By David Watters

The countdown to unveiling the EVO-STIK League's greatest player of all time during Saturday night's glittering end of season awards is officially underway!

After thousands of votes and nominations from fans, clubs and members of the media for their top 100 players of the last five decades over the course of the Northern Premier League's historic 50th anniversary 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 stars of the last five decades will be unveiled 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 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 and salutes all the legends live on stage, pictured.

Number 100 Peter Ward

Number 100 Peter Ward

Launched last September, the online poll to choose the top 100 players and a ‘team of all time’ 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
100 to 91 ...

100 Peter Ward
The forward played for Burton Albion, Brighton, Nottingham Forest and a host of clubs in the US including Vancouver Whitecaps, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Seattle Sounders and Cleveland Force. Still living in America, the 62-year-old left school at 15 to become an apprentice engine fitter with Rolls Royce while playing football in his spare time, at one stage for three clubs - Borrowash United, Redfern Athletic and GIC (General Industrial Cleaners). It didn't take the young striker long to get his journey from Borrowash to Brighton underway. After signing an amateur contract with the Southern League Premier Division's Brewers in 1974, he transferred to Brighton & Hove Albion in 1975 with the Brewers banking a fee of £4,000.

99 Phil Staley
A former Blackpool, Crewe, Nantwich Town and Stockport County keeper who went on to manage Accrington Stanley, Ashton United, Chorley and Nantwich Town in his last post before ill health forced him to retire from football, Staley was famously banned from Droylsden's ground, claimed to have been paid in fish and chips and took Accrington Stanley to the second round of the FA Cup. After playing in the Welsh League with Bethesda FC, Staley revealed all in 'Get Those Sheep Off The Pitch', the book he penned charting his 40 years in football.

Number 99 Phil Staley

Number 99 Phil Staley

98 John Coleman
The hot-shot played for Kirkby Town, Burscough, Marine, Southport, Runcorn, Macclesfield Town, Rhyl, Witton Albion, Morecambe, Lancaster City and Ashton United, netting over 500 goals at Non-League level over two decades. A regular in the England 'C' team, he was appointed player-manager at Ashton United in 1997 before moving to then Northern Premier League Accrington Stanley and taking them back into the Football League with two titles in 2000 and 2003.

97 Matthew Tymon
The 28-year-old former Hartlepool trainee is in his third spell with Whitby Town having previously played under Graeme Clark, Harry Dunn, Tommy Cassidy and Darren Williams, before re-joining the Blues in June 2016 from Workington. The striker initially arrived at the Turnbull Ground on a loan deal from Hartlepool United in 2009 before becoming a prolific scorer for the Seasiders in Non-League.

96 Kenny Mayers
The midfielder is known to have played for Chorley, Bamber Bridge, Fleetwood Town, Lancaster, Kendal, Stalybridge Celtic, Horwich RMI and Morecambe. Made his name as a utility player with Lancaster City as well as at Bamber Bridge, Horwich RMI and Morecambe. After helping Bamber Bridge rise from the North West Counties League through to the UniBond Premier Division he was signed by Chorley for a reported fee of £12,000 in 1995. Mayers later played in the Conference with the Shrimps before returning to the NPL scene with Lancaster City. Finished off his career at Padiham after failing to settle at Fleetwood Town. Said to have excelled in every position apart from in goal – and only because nobody ever asked him! Highly-rated as an asset by all the teams he represented in the then Unibond League, he also played for the NPL's representative team and various FA representative sides.

95 Tom Baker
The midfielder played for a host of clubs including Altrincham, Ashton United, Barnsley, Bradford Park Avenue, Chorley, Droylsden and Halifax Town. The highly-rated Baker was well known for his box-to-box style of play, tough tackling and an eye for goal. A member of two of the Shaymen’s promotion-winning sides and he also captained the Robins at Hurst Cross. Forced to retire in 2015 with a persistent knee injury at the age of 28 while at Ashton before going on to manage Trafford.

Number 98 John Coleman

Number 98 John Coleman

94 Paul Sykes
The defender turned out for a long list of clubs across the country including Bradford Park Avenue, Dover Athletic, Emley, Gainsborough Trinity, Glasshoughton Miners Welfare, Harrogate Town, FC Halifax, Margate, Ossett Town, Stalybridge Celtic, Worksop Town and Worksop Parramore. After kicking off his career at Sheffield Wednesday, the clubs he turned out for up front, in midfield, in defence and even in goal, read like an A-Z of Non-League football.

93 Simon Carden
The midfielder is known to have played for Accrington Stanley, FC United of Manchester and Radcliffe Borough. The former Stockport trainee was hailed as a "hitman" at Accrington by manager John Coleman before returning to Radcliffe’s Stainton Park after originally moving in the opposite direction. Before his exit, he helped Stanley to win three trophies in the 2001-02 season and promotion from the then Unibond Premier Division the following year. Known as a leader on pitch and now 39, he went on to drive Radcliffe to victory in the 2003 play-off before switching to FC United. In six seasons up to 2011 before a final fling with Boro, Simon made 243 appearances for the Rebels while netting a healthy 67 goals.

92 Harry "A" Dunn
A midfielder, Dunn played for Blyth Spartans and was also a legend at both Bishop Auckland and Scarborough. After spells as a youth with Burnley and Derby County under Brian Clough, Harry joined Scarborough from Bishop Auckland in 1975 where he gained two FA Trophy winners medals and scored in the 1977 final at Wembley. A brilliant attacking midfielder, he scored 65 times in 265 appearances for Boro where his swashbuckling style of play made him a firm favourite with the fans. After moving on to Blyth Spartans in 1981 he finished his playing career at Bishop Auckland. A highly successful Non-League managerial career followed with spells at Northern Premier League clubs Bishop Auckland, Blyth Spartans and Whitby Town. The highlights included guiding Spartans on their run to the third round of the FA Cup in 2008-09 and Whitby's Vase and League double in 1997 to earn promotion to the NPL.

91 Dave Young
An impressive defender, Young played for for a number of clubs including Ashton United, Curzon Ashton, Mossley and Glossop North End. Signed for Mossley from Curzon Ashton in February 2012 after previously skippering Glossop North End and becoming a club legend since making his debut as a 17-year-old. In the process, he skippered the Hillmen during two appearances at Wembley including the FA Vase Final in 2009. Also squeezed in a spell at Ashton United during a long and illustrious career in Non-League.

Number 97 Matthew Tymon

Number 97 Matthew Tymon

Main image courtesy of Rob Lock

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Number 96 Kenny Mayers

Number 95 Tom Baker

Number 94 Paul Sykes

Number 93 Simon Carden

Number 92 Harry A Dunn

Number 91 Dave Young

Where next?

United boss is looking to go local Skelmerdale United manager Dave Powell is looking local as he puts his squad together for the upcoming 2018-19 EVO-STIK League campaign.
Quinn is back at new super club Former Brighouse Town and Shaw Lane boss Paul Quinn will be back in the EVO-STIK League next season as assistant manager at newly founded Ossett United.

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