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 named at Blackpool's Hilton Hotel this weekend after the countdown kicked off at 7pm on Monday night.
Ten more NPL stars of the last five decades from 70 to 61 are revealed tonight on the competition's official website and social media channels 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.
70 Wayne Biggins
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
70 to 61 ...
70 Wayne Biggins
Biggins scored goals for a host of clubs including Barnsley, Burnely, Buxton, Glasgow Celtic, Kings Lynn, Leek Town, Lincoln City, Manchester City, Matlock Town, Norwich, Oxford United, Stoke City, Stocksbridge Park Steels and Wigan Athletic. Nicknamed "Bertie" throughout a long career spanning 25 years, he kicked it off at Matlock Town before making the move to Burnley. After 14 years in the professional game, Biggins moved to Leek for a season before joining Stocksbridge Park Steels, eventually becoming manager of the club before one final playing and coaching stint at Buxton during the 2004-05 campaign.
69 Colin Little
A goalscorer at Altrincham, FC United, Crewe Alexandra, Hyde United, Halifax Town, Macclesfield Town, New Mills, Rossendale United and Witton Albion. After starting in Non-League with Rossendale United and Hyde United, where he is fondly remembered for his five goals in an 8-0 FA Cup win against Colwyn Bay, Little joined Crewe Alexandra in 2006 after being spotted by then Alex manager Dario Gradi who signed him for £50,000. Loan spells with Mansfield Town and Macclesfield Town followed, the striker later making his stay in Macclesfield permanent. Little made eight appearances for Halifax Town before joining Altrincham in 2004 – where he went on to make over 200 appearances. He later played for FC United of Manchester, New Mills and Witton Albion. Little worked as an U15s coach during his time at Crewe Alexandra and joined Manchester United as an U13s coach in 2009. Now 45, he still works for the Reds as an U18s coach.
69 Colin Little
68 Dave Ryan
Having enjoyed a 13 year career with Northwich Victoria after starting life as a youth player at Manchester United, the keeper also turned out out for Chorley, Hyde United and Port Vale. Ryan later returned to the Premier League's Reds to become head goalkeeping coach at United’s academy and also served as head of football & community development from 1992 to 2013. As a member of Northwich’s 1983-84 FA Trophy-winning side his status as a club legend is guaranteed.
67 Micheal Wilde
The forward was a popular striker at a number of clubs in England and across the border in Wales including Poulton Victoria, Fleetwood Town, Halifax Town, Chester, Connah’s Quay and TNS. Wilde really made his name at Fleetwood Town where he was part of the club’s 2008 Northern Premier League championship-winning side before repeating the feat with Chester. Kicked off his career with TNS in the Welsh Premier League before becoming the main goal-scorer in all the sides he turned out for in the NPL while helping them to climb the Non-League ladder. Entered into Chester's Hall of fame in 2015 for his exploits.
66 Ciaran Kilheeney
A popular striker wherever he’s played with a proven scoring record. After stints at Exeter City in the Football League in 2003 and Mossley, the former Manchester City trainee joined Droylsden before moving to Radcliffe Borough, Ashton United and Burscough. He scored 20 goals to help the Linnets to promotion in 2007 before finishing joint top marksman in the Conference North the following season. In July 2010, Kilheeney, who also turned out for Southport, returned to Droylsden for a second stint before joining Chorley and then Warrington Town where he starred on their run to the FA Cup second Round and victory over his former club Exeter in the first cup match televised by the BBC since 2009. Now 33, he left Warrington in February 2017 to rejoin Droylsden for a third stint as a cult hero for Bloods' as well as one of the poster players on the official website of the EVO-STIK League!
65 Jody Banim
Banim turned out for a host of clubs including Manchester United, Trafford, Altrincham, Flixton, Hyde United, Rossendale United, Radcliffe Borough, Shrewsbury, Accrington Stanley, Droylsden, Stalybridge Celtic, Torquay United, Burton Albion, Real Maryland (USA), Salford City and Ashton United. The 38-year-old is the current English record holder for most goals in consecutive games and was a staple in the Droyslden side which won promotion to the Conference and Radcliffe Borough. Has become a household name at most clubs in Tameside as a capable striker. Though he made his name in the area, Jody became integral player at a number of Manchester sides and a cult hero at Stainton Park, the Butchers Arms and Bower Fold. The striker headed south to join Clapton for the 2012–13 season, featuring in their FA Vase match against Cockfosters before moving on to Ilford, also of Essex Senior League, in 2013. In September 2015, he came out retirement following a spell working in Thailand to join Ashton United and scored on his debut at Skelmersdale United. Went on to manage Ashton United and in May guided them to promotion as the NPL's Premier Division play-off winners.
68 David Ryan
64 Milija Aleksic
Known to have played for Port Vale, Stafford Rangers, Eastwood Town, Luton and Tottenham Hotspur, the keeper was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme to a Yugoslavian father. Aleksic's career started at Port Vale in 1968 before a stint at Plymouth. After being released by Port Vale he joined Eastwood and later moved on to Stafford Rangers where he became the crucial man between the sticks for the club’s 1972 FA Trophy win. Later in his career he would end up stepping up a level and winning the FA Cup with Tottenham Hotspur in 1981 after playing for the Hatters between 1976 and 1978. Sadly, he died in 2012 aged 61.
63 Gary Hatto
After starting out as an apprentice under former Leeds United legend Billy Bremner at Elland Road, the defender spent almost 20 years in Non-League football and was a member of the Frickley side that finished runners-up in the old Conference in 1985-86 behind Enfield. Hatto also reached the Third Round proper of the FA Cup with the Westfield Lane outfit before becoming a playing assistant manager in 2003. Before returning in a management role, Hatto also helped local rivals Emley to the runners-up spot in the Northern Premier League’s top flight 2001 behind Stalybridge Celtic. Apart from a brief spell with Ossett Town in 1987-88, the rest of Hatto's Non-League career was spent at Frickley who rewarded him with a testimonial in July 2004.
62 Karl Marginson
Highly rated in Non-League as a player, the 47-year-old famously went on to become the first manager of FC United of Manchester before standing down in October 2017. Kicked off his career at Ashton United with 146 appearances before moving to Rotherham and then Macclesfield Town. The much-travelled midfielder had a brief foray at Hyde’s Ewen Fields towards the end of his career having played for Stalybridge Celtic, Barrow, Chorley, Radcliffe Borough and finally Flixton before taking the jump to management.
61 James Lukic
Known to have played for Gainsborough Trinity, Matlock Town and dubbed "Mr Matlock", the 35-year-old made over 650 appearances for the Gladiators after arriving in 1998 as a youngster. A club legend, he holds second spot in the club’s all-time appearance records behind Mick Fenoughty. A skipper and leader, he won the hearts of Gladiators fans with his resilience and playing style.
67 Michael Wilde
Main image courtesy of Rob Lock
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66 Ciaran Kilheeney