Legends countdown into teens!

5 months ago By David Watters

With the EVO-STIK League's greatest player of all time set to be named within hours on Saturday night at the competition's annual end of season awards, the countdown of top 100 legends has hit the twenties!

After thousands of votes and nominations from fans, clubs and members of the media for the Northern Premier League's legends over the course of the historic 50th anniversary 2017-18 season, the winner and the stars in second and third place will be unveiled at Blackpool's Hilton Hotel soon before 10pm after the countdown kicked off on Monday.

Ten more NPL stars of the last five decades in descending order from 20 to 11 were revealed before 5pm on the competition's official website and social media channels before the top 10 are named during 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 with the top three and a salute to all the legends.

20 Dave Chadwick

20 Dave Chadwick

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.

20 David Chadwick
Chadwick starred for the Red Rebels for seven years, making more than 200 appearances wearing the captain’s armband in nearly every match and leading the side during their rise from the North West Counties second tier to the NPL's top flight. Won both the EVO-STIK League North and Premier Division titles before retiring as New Mills skipper and joining Salford City as assistant to Phil Power. Now aged 40, the defender also played at Prescot Cables, helping them gain them NPL Premier status too before becoming the manager of Chorley’s newly formed development squad in 2016 after playing for the club’s reserves in the 1990s. Also played for Leigh RMI, Prescot Cables and Skelmersdale United.

19 Billy Ayre
Ayre, who passed away aged 49 in 2002, was a commanding centre half who joined Scarborough from Northern League Bishop Auckland in summer of 1975 having previously played for Darlington and Crook Town. Was a huge favourite with Boro supporters, playing 116 matches, scoring 20 goals and mostly headers from set pieces. Helped Boro to FA Trophy glory in both 1976 and 1977 before moving on to Hartlepool for £1,500 fee in summer 1977. Later played for Mansfield and Halifax and managed Halifax, Blackpool and Scarborough in the Football League as well having coaching roles at Lincoln, Cardiff and Bury. In total, during a 16 year professional career, the Gateshead-born defender made over three hundred Football League appearances.

18 Alex Melbourne
A product of the Wolves academy, Melbourne joined the Pitmen for a third time in June 2017 after a second spell at local rivals Stafford Rangers. An adaptable defender who could play anywhere across defence or midfield and something of a set-piece specialist, Melbourne joined Wolves as a teenager and made progress through the club's academy, signing up as a first year professional in the summer of 2008. Sent out on loan to Blue Square North high-flyers Tamworth, he was released by Wolves in the summer of 2009 before joining then West Midlands Regional League side AFC Wulfrunians. Linked up with Rushall Olympic on the eve of the 2010-2011 season on the first of three occasions, and very quickly established himself as a fixture in the side before the Pitmen snapped him up for the first time in January 2001.

19 Billy Ayre

19 Billy Ayre

17 Jim Arnold
A shot-stopping keeper who preferred to remain on his line, Arnold helped Stafford to two FA Trophy finals, winning the 1979 contest and also winning the competition with Workington. Made the jump to the Football League with Blackburn Rovers before Howard Kendall took him to Everton in 1981. Though a back-up keeper, he played his part in winning the 1984-85 League title and was part of the 1985 UEFA Cup Winners Cup winning side. Also turned out for Known to have played for Preston North End, Port Vale, Kidderminster Harriers and Rocester.

16 Wayne Daniel
Daniel was a highly thought of defender at a host of clubs including Boldmere St Michael, Evesham United, Kidderminster Harriers, Nuneaton Town, Worcester City, Stafford Rangers, Paget Rangers, Rushall Olympic and Stafford Rangers. Now aged 41, Birmingham-born Daniel retired in May 2006 after helping Stafford Rangers win promotion back to the NPL's top flight. A stalwart in the Stafford defence for many years, he also captained the club to promotion into the Conference National in 2006.

15 George Horan
Captain of the reformed Chester FC side who were promoted twice in succession from the NPL after joining from Droylsden in 2010. Still the club’s record apperance holder, Horan’s unflinching commitment to the cause was never in question during his four seasons at the Deva, so much so that the treble title-winning captain was named as the Blues’ best skipper from the past 25 years in a Chester Chronicle poll. Now 37, the defender surpassed himself to help his current club Connah’s Quay Nomads in the summer when he flew back from a family holiday in Cyprus to play in Europe for the Welsh outfit!

14 Craig Dawson
Currently with Premier League West Brom as one of the NPL’s star graduates of recent years, the defender joined Radcliffe in his youth after being brought to training by then chairman Bernard Manning. Instantly a favourite with the fans, he dominated the defence during his time in the NPL to earn a move to Rochdale in 2009. Named League 2 Player of the Season, he was soon snapped up by West Bromwich in 2010 and hasn’t looked back since after loan spells back at The Dale and with Bolton Wanderers. Has also collected 15 England U21 caps and scored six times for his country as well being a member of the 2008 Great Britain Olympic Team.

18 Alex Melbourne

18 Alex Melbourne

13 Asa Charlton
A trainee at Kidderminster Harriers, Charlton joined Willenhall Town after being released before studying in the United States. On his return, he played for the Brisitish Universities side before returning to Non-League ranks with short spells at Rushall Olympic and Stourport Swifts. Went on to become one of the best-known defenders in the Non-League game. Has defied the odds over the last few seasons and has just finished a second campaign with the Yeltz. Has used his experience to adapt his game to central defence and known to have helped his defensive partners improve wherever he’s played.

12 Elliott Durrell
Hednesford Town’s longest serving player before his move to Wrexham in 2014, Elliott was a near permanent fixture for the Pitmen, racking up 152 appearances in two spells between 2008 and 2014 as well as collecting the Player of the Season accolade at the 2014 NPL Player of the Year awards.
Durrell, who went on to play for Chester and Tamworth before signing for Macclesfield Town in July 2017, featured on Sky last season as part of a six part series on former Stocksbridge Park Steels striker Jamie Vardy's V9 Academy. Even Vardy would be hard-pressed to score goals with the flair of some of Durell's best efforts - most notably one when he scored off direct from the kick-off in 2014 for Hednesford Town against Bradford Park Avenue by somehow dribbling all the way from the middle of the park before keeping his feet to score. Also played for Evesham United and AFC Telford.

11 Alistair Waddecar midfielder
A local lad who learned his football at Preston North End before leaving Deepdale aged 16 and spent two seasons with West Lancashire League outfit Lostock St Gerard’s from 2008, Waddecar joined the Briggers in 2011 to become one of their most feared players on the wings and in central areas when required. A key member of the team who helped Bamber Bridge lift the Integro League Cup in 2017, he was nominated for the NPL's 'Supporters Player of the Season' accolade in 2016. The talismanic 26-year-old put pen to paper on a new two contract in the summer of 2017.

Main image courtesy of Rob Lock

17 Jim Arnold

17 Jim Arnold

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16 Wayne Daniel

15 George Horan

14 Craig Dawson

13 Asa Charlton

12 Elliott Durrell

11 Alistair Waddecar

Where next?

Vardy named as NLP's number one! England striker Jamie Vardy was unveiled as the greatest player in the history of the Northern Premier League on Saturday night as the competition celebrated its fiftieth birthday!
Legends list down to final twenty! The EVO-STIK League's countdown of top 100 players has reached the stars in the top 30 with only hours to go before the competition's greatest ever player is named at Saturday night's end of season awards!

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