Seasiders Hall of Fame: Full-backs

Jimmy Armfield with the Premier League trophy at Bloomfield Road, (below) Alan Wright and (bottom) Mike Davies.
Jimmy Armfield with the Premier League trophy at Bloomfield Road, (below) Alan Wright and (bottom) Mike Davies.
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DAY two of our hunt for the greatest Blackpool FC payers of all time, today it is the turn of the full-backs.

After naming five keepers in our Hall of Fame yesterday (John Burridge, Gordon West, George Farm, Steve Banks, Iain Hesford), we can now add six full-backs to the list.

Alan Wright

Alan Wright

They have been voted for by readers via email and Twitter, and remember – it isn’t necessarily about the best, it is about players who might not have been world-beaters but, for one reason or another, became crowd favourites and cult-heroes.

Tomorrow we move on to centre-backs and there are two different ways to vote for your favourites.

You can email: russell.kingston@blackpoolgazette.co.uk.

Alternatively you can contact us via Twitter at @The_Gazette or @CanavanGazette.

Mike Davies

Mike Davies

Meanwhile, here are the six full-backs to make it into the Hall of Fame.

JIMMY ARMFIELD

There isn’t much you can say about Jimmy that hasn’t already been said. A footballing legend for both Blackpool and England, it is what he did after his playing career ended that really cemented his reputation. Even now ,he remains relevant to a younger generation of football fan due to his summarising work for BBC 5Live.

On the pitch Armfield was superb, credited with being the first overlapping full-back. Between 1954 and 1971 he played 627 games for Blackpool and spent more than a decade as skipper.

He was also captain of England 15 times, and skippered the team throughout the 1962 World Cup in Chile, where he was voted into the team of the tournament.

After playing his last match – at Bloomfield Road, against Manchester United in May 1971 – Armfield became manager at Bolton and led them to promotion, then took Leeds to the European Cup Final, before embarking on a career in the media.

Has worked for the FA (choosing England managers such as Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle) and the PFA, and has done charity work galore in the local community.

Underwent treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2007, but in typical Jimmy fashion, has come back even stronger.

ALAN WRIGHT

Not the tallest – only five feet four inches tall (the shortest player in Premier League history, who famously once strained his knee trying to reach the accelerator of his new Ferrari) – but made up for what he lacked in height with bags of commitment, heart and speed.

Played more than 750 league and cup games for eight clubs, including an eight-year spell at Aston Villa.

It all started at Blackpool though, where he was a trainee in the late 80s. He made his first team debut aged just 16, as a substitute in May 1988 in a home game with Chesterfield.

In the next couple of seasons became a regular, making almost 100 starts and displaying a maturity beyond his years. He soon had the big clubs flocking to watch him, and after Pool lost the 1991 play-off final at Wembley (defeated on penalties by Torquay), Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish snapped up Wright for £450,000.

Now, aged 40, he’s in charge at Northwich Vics.

BILL BENTLEY

It is fair to say that opponents didn’t exactly enjoy facing Bentley. One of football’s hard men he played left back and loved nothing more than a crunching tackle.

The fans loved him, chants of “Bill Bentley Hatchet Man” ringing around Bloomfield Road.

Started at hometown club Stoke – his physique and temperament winning him comparisons to John Charles – before moving to Blackpool (then managed by Stan Mortensen) at the start of 1969 for £30,000.

He would stay for seven seasons, racking up almost 300 league appearances.

One of Bentley’s best moments in tangerine was winning the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1971, supplying a peach of a pass which allowed skipper John Craven to score.

Those who were at Pool’s FA Cup third round tie with Burnley on January 3, 1976, will never forget Bentley’s goal – a quite breathtaking strike.

Bentley was sold to Port Vale in summer 1977, but always retained huge affection for the Seasiders.

MIKE DAVIES

The phrase ‘cult hero’ could have been coined for the long-serving right-back affectionately christened Ginge.

The flame-haired defender was a fixture in the right-back position for more than a decade, and joined the coaching staff at the club after finally hanging up his boots.

Davies came through the Seasiders youth academy in the early ‘80s and made his debut in May 1984 in a home win over Halifax.

Initially he was a right winger, before switching to the full-back position, which suited him much better.

Roy Calley in his book, Blackpool: A Complete Record, wrote: “One feels that if every man to have worn a Blackpool shirt over the years had showed as much commitment to the cause as Mike Davies, the Seasiders would never have fallen from grace.”

STEPHEN CRAINEY

A free transfer from Leeds in the summer Pool went up to the Championship (2007), the Scot arrived with no one expecting much.

He had struggled at Elland Road. Just why remains a mystery because there isn’t a Seasider fan around who wouldn’t want Crainey in their team.

A fixture at left-back for the last five years, Crainey is one of those players who always gives at least a seven out of 10 performance.

Played the full 90 minutes of Pool’s 2010 play-off final win against Cardiff to secure promotion to the Premier League, and more than held his own in the top flight season which followed.

A regular again last season, there is no doubt that Crainey is well worth his place in the Seasiders all-time Hall of Fame.

Better still, he is one of life’s good guys off the pitch – a softly-spoken family man who lives in Lytham with his wife and children.

EDDIE SHIMWELL

Thank goodness Sheffield United refused to let Shimwell become a landlord. It seems unimaginable these days but in 1946 young Eddie, playing for the Blades, asked for permission to run a pub in the Peak District in his free time.

His bosses at Bramall Lane refused, a miffed Shimwell slapped in a transfer request, and Blackpool stumped up £7,000 to sign him.

He didn’t get off to the best of starts. His debut was supposed to be against Charlton, the day after his signing, but his train got stuck in snow and he didn’t arrive at The Valley until half-time.

His first game came four days later, on Christmas Day, against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park – and from that moment he made the full-back position his own.

Shimwell became the first full-back to score in an FA Cup when his 12th-minute penalty gave Blackpool the lead against Manchester United in 1948. Alas, United ran out winners.

Shimwell played in two more FA Cup finals for Pool, losing to Newcastle in 1951, but part of the 11 which beat Bolton two years later. Capped once by England. A dislocated shoulder in 1955 virtually ended his Blackpool career and he was granted a free transfer to Oldham shortly afterwards. After footie, guess what he did? Pub landlord in the Peak District. Died in 1988 at the age of 68.

AND A FEW WHO MISSED OUT...

JOHN HILLS

A big crowd favourite, the St Annes lad began his career at Blackpool, but hadn’t played a single game when Everton paid £90,000 to take him to Goodison.

The Toffees had seen Hills in a youth team match and loved him.

He returned to Blackpool in 1998, and went on to make almost 200 appearances (helping Pool win promotion in 2001, then scoring in the LDV Vans Final victory against Cambridge the following year) before departing for Gillingham in 2003.

Returned for the 2007-08 campaign, but couldn’t oust Stephen Crainey from the side. Now youth team coach.

TOMMY JASZCZUN

Most famous for being the man who ate some dodgy scrambled egg on the morning of the 2002 LDV Vans Trophy Final and spending the game on the toilet rather than the pitch. He made 122 starts in four years between 2000 and ’04. Great lad, natural comedian, and hugely popular amongst team-mates and fans alike.

DANNY COID

Worth a mention for that one fantastic season alone, when he burst on to the scene as a teenager and took League Two by storm in the 2000-01 promotion year under Steve McMahon. Coid was so good that Liverpool were reported to be weighing up a big-money bid.

Alas, a nightmare run of injuries (including running into a pitch roller at the training ground) scuppered any chances of the likeable Coid fulfilling his early promise. Spent a decade at the club before being allowed to depart on a free.

MARVIN BRYAN

A cult-hero, joining Pool from QPR in 1995 (replacing Phil Brown, who then became Sam Allardyce’s non-playing assistant) and made 200 appearances over the next five years. Popular for his appearance – short shorts and socks rolled down – and for the way he bombed forward, even where was no need to.

SHAUN BARKER

One of the best modern-day bargain buys. Signed from Rotherham for a measly £30,000 in August 2006 a couple of days after skipper Peter Clarke had departed for Southend.

It seemed a bit like a panic buy. Turns out it was one of the shrewdest bits of business Simon Grayson would ever do.

Barker became a huge fans’ favourite, turning in fantastic displays each week, mainly at right-back, occasionally at centre-half.

Just a shame he departed in summer 2009, on the eve of the Premier League promotion season, when hometown club Derby came calling.

TERRY PASHLEY

Made his name at Burnley before moving to Bob Stokoe’s Blackpool in 1978. From 1981 to ’82, Pashley didn’t miss a game for two seasons.

That meant 106 consecutive appearances ... though a long way short of Georgie Mee’s record of 195 consecutive games for Pool in the 1920s.

Bizarrely spent a spell playing up front alongside Dave Bamber before leaving for Bury. Now youth team coach at back at first club Burnley.

ALEX BAPTISTE

Didn’t quite make the cut this time, but if he stays at Bloomfield Road for another few years he most certainly will do.

A terrific player, signed for a paltry £5,000 from Mansfield (who had just been relegated to the Conference), Baptiste is still only 26, but already has more than 350 career appearances to his name.

Helped Pool win promotion to the Premier League, but injury stopped him shining in the top flight.

An integral part of the side and one of the first names on the team-sheet, whether at full-back or centre-half.

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