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7 months ago By Stevie R

To commemorate 50 years of the NPL, the league have launched a poll to find it's greatest ever players.

Blues have a quartet of players named in the shortlist of 200. They are Paul Clowes, Tim Grice, Dave MacPherson and Dave Sutton.

It's a tremendous accolade for both the players concerned and the club to be named on the shortlist, given the thousands of players who have played in the NPL over the last 50 years.

Former Leek Town players Wayne Biggins and Gary Ingham are also nominated although they only played for the Blues in the Conference and not in the NPL.

The online public poll to name the Northern Premier League’s 'Top 100 Players' and 'Team of all Time' of the last five decades opened at 7pm on Tuesday (November 7) and will run until Friday 22 December.

The final line-ups of legends chosen by fans, players and officials will then feature in a specially commissioned book charting the Northern Premier League's proud history since its foundation in 1968.

Entitled '50 Glorious Seasons - A History of the Northern Premier League 1968-2018', the book is being written by official historian and statistician Dominic McKenzie and will be out within weeks of the anniversary campaign ending.

Nearly 2,000 players were nominated over the last month by clubs and individual fans before a special panel of judges made up of fans whittled down the extensive list covering every decade down to a shortlist of 200 in the final vote.

To vote via the website, click here:

A run-down of the four players nominated and their achievements is shown below:

Paul Clowes - One of Leek’s favourite sons who originally joined the Blues in April 1987 after being released by Port Vale. Paul quickly formed a formidable central defensive partnership with Chris McMullen and was an important member of the 1990 Championship winning and FA Trophy finalists squad. He made 358 appearances before eventually leaving in 1994 to join Congleton Town and then moving on to Ashton United, whom he served with the same distinction as he showed at Harrison Park. Paul played 263 games for Ashton, scoring 28 goals before returning ‘home’ in August 2001. Paul is one of the highest appearance makers for the club and is also well up in the goal scoring charts, having always chipped in with his fair share of goals from central defence.

Tim Grice - Prolific striker signed in September 2011 from North West Counties League side Eccleshall. Tim started out at the Stoke City academy and was also on the books of Aston Villa before going on to play for Wolstanton United and Alsager Town. He has now scored almost 140 goals for the Blues and is closing in on the all-time club scoring record. His goals have been scored at a phenomenal strike rate of one in less than two games having now played around 270 games for the club. A feared marksmen and a loyal servant who is currently the longest serving player at the club.

Dave MacPherson - Dave moved to Harrison Park in January 2001 from North West Counties League club, Stone Dominoes, after previously being on the books at Stoke City. A dynamic and energetic midfielder, he was voted Supporters Player of the Year in 2002/03 . He also won two England caps with the England Futsal squad in Lithuania in November 2005. After seven seasons with the club, Macca finally decided to move on and joined Hednesford Town in May 2007. He also had spells with Witton Albion and Nantwich Town before returning to Harrison Park to pass the 300 appearance mark, scoring 60 goals in the process.

Dave Sutton - Dave originally joined the club in August 1987, following spells with Stoke City and Crewe Alexandra, where he rejected the chance to play first team football. His exciting forward play and goal scoring prowess made him an instant favourite with supporters, who voted him their Player of the Year in his first season, when he scored 23 goals. During the 1988/89 season, he broke the same leg twice, the second time being the day before his wedding! He made a full recovery to play a major part in Leek’s FA Trophy run of 1989/90, scoring four goals on the way to Wembley, including the strike that beat Stafford Rangers in the semi-final. Dave scored goals steadily up until the 1995/96 season, enjoying his best campaign in 1993/94, when he found the back of the net 25 times in a partnership with Darren Twigg that produced 65 goals. Sutt was, of course, the provider of many ‘assists’ as well as scoring goals himself and his play earned him Northern Premier League representative honours. Ashton United paid £2000 for his services prior to the start of the 1996/97 season and he went on to play for Newcastle Town before Andy Holmes brought him back to Harrison Park in August 1999, where he needed just six goals to reach 150 for the club and 18 appearances to beat Gary Pearce’s record of 447 for the club. He duly achieved both, scoring a further eight goals and smashing the appearance record, ending on 152 goals from 484 games.

Updated 09:57 - 19 Nov 2017 by Stevie R

Where next?

GLOSSOP GOSSIP Blues make the short journey to Glossop North End on Saturday for a Second Qualifying Round tie in the Buildbase FA Trophy.


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