Greater Manchester’s greatest: Football League fans pick favourite players, managers and matches

Fans across the Football League have been voting for their favourite club managers and players as part of the League’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

After the league was formed in 1888, teams within the league have had many ups and downs except perhaps Rochdale, who have the longest suffering fans according to a recent poll.

This didn’t stop them from voting current boss Keith Hill as their greatest manager of all time though.

Hill, whose side are currently second in League 2, was the overwhelming choice for Rochdale’s greatest manager as he received 85% of votes, which placed him well ahead of Tony Collins (8%) and Steve Parkin (4%).

Hill was a player at Spotland from 1996-2001 and has had two spells as manager, rejoining the club most recently in 2013 after being sacked by Barnsley the previous year.

Rochdale fans’ favourite season was also a recent one as 44% voted for 2010-11, when Hill led the club to 68 points and ninth in League 1, their highest ever finishing position in the Football League.

Other Football League clubs in Greater Manchester preferred to focus on achievements further back in their history.

Sam Allardyce was comfortably voted Bolton Wanderers’ greatest manager, taking 62% in the poll.

Having played for the Trotters between 1973 and 1980, and again in 1985-86, he took the club into the Premier League in 2001. 

He then established them as a real force in the top-flight, gaining frequent victories over the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United as they qualified for the UEFA Cup in 2004-05.

Allardyce’s tally put him ahead of Bruce Rioch (16%) and Nat Lofthouse (14%), the latter also spending his entire playing career at the club.

Bury fans gave the nod to Stan Ternent, who gained 36% of the votes and came in just ahead of Bobby Smith (32%).

Ternent, now Chief Scout at Hull City, became Bury manager in October 1995 with the club fifth from bottom in the Third Division but won promotion at the end of the season.

Bury then won the Second Division with 84 points the following season to reach the First Division, before Ternent moved to Burnley in 1998.

Oldham fans also harked back to their glory days in the early 1990s with 72% voting Joe Royle as the club’s greatest manager and 49% choosing Andy Ritchie as their greatest player.

Under Royle, Oldham were founder members of the Premier League in 1992-93 and also made two Wembley appearances in his 12-year spell as manager.

The fans’ favourite season was 1990-91, when the club won the Second Division championship and their choice as the club’s greatest match was the 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday that won them that title.

Neil Redfearn scoring a penalty in injury time to snatch victory.

Wigan fans, perhaps surprisingly, did not choose Paul Jewell or Roberto Martinez as their greatest manager.

While they took 35% and 16% of votes respectively, 45% of respondents favoured Ian McNeill, who managed the club 1968-70 and 1976-81 and took them into the Football League for the first time in the latter spell.

Those fans chose a more recent club representative, Arjan De Zeeuw, as both their greatest captain and greatest player.

The Dutchman played for the Latics in two spells, 1999-2002 and 2005-07, and won Wigan’s own player of the year award three times.

The full results of the vote can be seen here:

Image courtesy of Ingy the Wingy, via Flickr, with thanks

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