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Vale's Greatest

17 April 2014

Who did YOU vote for? Take a look at the winners



Robbie Earle has been voted as Port Vale’s greatest player by the club’s fans in a poll conducted as part of The Football League's 125th Anniversary celebrations.


The locally-born midfielder made his Vale debut in 1982 and over the next nine years racked up more than 350 appearances and scored 90 goals, with his career at Vale Park including a run of 142 consecutive appearances.


Earle was a part of the Vale sides that won promotion from the Fourth Division in 1983 and 1986, and he also scored the goal that won the 1989 Third Division Play-Off Final. He took 57% of the vote, well ahead of Roy Sproson and Ray Walker.


John Rudge took over as Vale’s manager in December 1983 and what followed earned him the vote as the club’s greatest boss. Under Rudge, Vale had the two promotions already mentioned plus another in 1994 to the new First Division for the first time, they won the Football League Trophy in 1993 and in 1996 were the last runners-up in the Anglo-Italian Cup before the competition was abolished.


Rudge took charge of nearly 750 Vale games before his departure in 1999 and picked up 58% of the votes, comfortably beating Freddie Steele and current boss Micky Adams.


Sproson, second to Earle in the vote for the greatest player, went one better to be chosen as the club’s greatest captain. The one-club man made a grand total of 842 appearances for Vale, by a long way a club record, and won three promotions in a career that went from the 1950/51 season to 1971/72. He took 40% of the votes, ahead of Andy Porter (25%), Neil Aspin, Tommy Cheadle and Dean Glover.


The promotion to the First Division in 1993/94 was voted as the club’s greatest season with 41% of the votes, beating 2012/13 and 1953/54. In 2012/13 however came the result voted as the best – a 7-1 hammering of Burton Albion that earned 35% of the votes, edging out 1992’s 3-1 home win against local rivals Stoke City (30%) and a 2-1 win against Stockport County in 1993.


Earle, Rudge and Sproson sit alongside legends of the game including Brian Clough, Sir Bobby Robson, Sir Tom Finney, Billy Wright, Sir Stanley Matthews, Trevor Francis, Billy Bremner and Herbert Chapman who have all been named in a list of the greatest contributors to clubs’ league history in a vote as part of The Football League’s 125th Anniversary celebrations.


The results have been announced on the anniversary of The Football League’s formation on 17th April 1888 to bring down the curtain on a year of activity celebrating the start of the world’s original league football competition.  The polls were run by The Football League to celebrate each club’s own contribution to the last 125 years of league football. The names feature in lists for each of the current 72 Football League clubs’ greatest in various categories including managers, players, captains, fan favourites, matches and seasons.


Nearly 100,000 votes were cast in the polls after clubs were first invited to compile their own shortlist for each category based on fans’ nominations via social media., and a club-by-club breakdown for each vote with more detail on the winners can be seen at list of the winners in each category can be seen at


. The exhibition is free to enter and open 7 days a week – for more details visit   Fans also still have a chance to visit a special exhibition called ‘Game Changers’ at the National Football Museum in Manchester celebrating 125 years of The Football League, with contributions from every club. can find out more about The Football League’s 125th Anniversary at





Notes for editors:


Parkinson also won the vote by Colchester United fans and is one of only four managers to make the list for two different clubs – alongside Alec Stock (Queens Park Rangers & Yeovil Town), Brian Clough (Derby County & Nottingham Forest), and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill (Leicester City & Wycombe Wanderers). Eddie Howe (AFC Bournemouth), Keith Hill (Rochdale), Paul Tisdale (Exeter City), Danny Wilson (Barnsley), Karl Robinson (Milton Keynes Dons) and Phil Parkinson (Bradford City) all make the list for the greatest managers for their current clubs.


A further nine current club managers make the list for their achievements at past clubs, including Manchester United boss David Moyes who was voted Preston North End’s greatest ever manager by their supporters.


Steve Tilson is the only person to make it onto the list as both a greatest player and greatest manager (both for Southend United).


Not far behind was the poll for Reading’s greatest season, with 93% voting for 2005/06 campaign that saw The Royals set a Football League record points total of 106 in claiming the Championship title. The biggest landslide vote was for Preston North End’s greatest ever player, with the late Sir Tom Finney getting the backing of 97% of those who voted.


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