Today it is the turn of the central midfielders.
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.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame so far are goalkeepers John Burridge, Steve Banks, Gordon West, Iain Hesford, George Farm; full backs Jimmy Armfield, Eddie Shimwell, Stephen Crainey, Alan Wright, Mike Davies, Bill Bentley; and centre backs Harry Johnston, Glyn James, Ian Evatt, Peter Clarke and Roy Gratrix.
Known for his banana-like free-kicks, bending the ball into the top corner long before Beckham was around, Suddick is one of Blackpool’s most popular players of all time. Signed in 1966 for a then club record £63,000 and a key part of the team for the next 10 years. Labelled the King of Bloomfield Road by the fans, Suddick helped the Seasiders win promotion to the First Division in 1969–70. He scored what he considered his best goal in a 3-3 home draw with Verona in the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1971. In the final against Bologna, he took the opposition apart. Suddick’s 100th league goal was a penalty in the 3-0 win over Preston in 1974. Just to prove how good he was, Suddick established an unofficial keepie uppie world record – completing three laps and 20-yards of the Bloomfield Road pitch, all the while keeping the ball off the ground, in just under 20 minutes. He lived in Blackpool and regularly went to games until his death, aged 64, in 2009.
Became a Blackpool legend in just two full years with the club, blasting 19 goals to power the Seasiders to the Premier League, then almost helping them stay in the top flight. All started with a successful loan spell (including a memorable winner at Preston), before the club smashed their transfer record to sign him from Rangers for £500,000 in summer 2009. It proved a snip. A powerful midfielder with a sledgehammer of a left-foot, Adam specialised in driving forward and either picking out a team-mate with a killer pass or having a pop at goal. Usually he’d hit the target. Took a mean free kick too, as he demonstrated in spectacular style in the Wembley play-off final victory over Cardiff. It was a sad day on the Fylde when he moved to Liverpool 12 months ago for £7m. Best Blackpool player of the last decade and beyond.
A Blackpool player revered by anyone lucky enough to see him in action. Green has legendary status among the fans despite only staying at Bloomfield Road for four years – and he missed one of those through injury. Born in Glasgow, signed for the Seasiders from Albion Rovers for £13,500 in 1967. One of the club’s best-ever buys – Stan Mortensen was the manager who spotted him – the 21-year-old was cheered off the field after his debut against West Brom, even though Pool lost 3-1. In 1967-68 he almost inspired the club to promotion to the top flight, forming a fine partnership with Alan Suddick. Injury kept him out for a year but he returned in 1971-72, played brilliantly (despite Pool being relegated), and was snapped up by Newcastle for £150,000. Tragically, in September 1972, a tackle by Crystal Palace’s Bobby Kellard ended Green’s career. He was 25. Became a maths teacher and still lives locally, in Poulton-le-Fylde. Such a shame his career was cut short – a quite outstanding talent.
His man of the match performance helped England beat West Germany to win the 1966 World Cup. Not bad for a lad who was told he was too small to make it by hometown club Bolton. The 5ft 5in winger was given a trial by Blackpool in September ‘61 and was immediately signed up. The following August he became the club’s youngest ever league debutant, at 17 years and 98 days in a 2-1 victory at Liverpool. In November 1964 scored his first hat-trick in a 3-3 draw at Fulham. A Pool player when he won the World Cup, but sold to Everton the same summer for £112,000. There he was part of a midfield trio hailed ‘The Holy Trinity’ and by the time he hung up his boots in 1984, at the age of 39, he had scored 184 goals in 819 league games. Ball, who went on to have a decent managerial career (though let’s forget his disastrous player-manager stint at Bloomfield Road in the early 80s), died in 2007, aged 61.
When great servants to the club are mentioned in years to come, Southern will be high on the list. The 31-year-old has been going strong at Bloomfield Road for a decade and more now, a regular under every manager he has played for – Steve McMahon, Colin Hendry, Simon Grayson, Tony Parkes and Ian Holloway. It perhaps took a while for some fans to recognise his worth but his commitment, desire and sheer will-to-win has always been appreciated by his team-mates. Signed from Everton, initially on loan, in 2002, Southern is also a fine individual off-the-pitch, one of the nicest blokes you could wish to meet, it was why there was such upset and shock when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer before Christmas. In true Southern style he recovered from surgery in double-quick time and almost scored with a diving header in his first game back (Jan 28, v Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup). Played the full 90 minutes in both Wembley play-off final victories (2007 and 2010), his testimonial against Everton in August is sure to be close to a sell-out.
AND A FEW WHO MISSED OUT...
Peter Doherty – Made his Blackpool debut at the age of 19 in 1933, and scored 29 goals in 89 league games before joining Manchester City, where he won the league title. Famously he didn’t want to leave Blackpool because he was due to marry a local girl, and had just bought a new house in the town.
He pleaded with the club’s directors, but they needed the cash so off he went. In his old age he scouted for Liverpool and discovered Kevin Keegan.
Paul Groves – Billy Ayre’s captain when the Seasiders beat Scunthorpe on penalties to win promotion from Division Four. 29 goals in 135 appearances between 1990 and 1992.
David Vaughan – Exceptionally talented left-footer who was a revelation after being switched from the left wing to the centre of midfield by Ian Holloway. Helped Pool win promotion to the Premier League, then played a year in the top flight before being snapped up by Sunderland.
Claus Jorgensen – Very popular in the dressing room and with the fans, made 100 league appearances in a three-year spell from 2006-09, and helped Pool win promotion to the Championship.
Richie Wellens – A class act who was unfortunate to play for the club at a time when it was struggling. 16 goals in 191 league appearances between 2000 and 2006. Could unlock any defence with a pass that few others were capable of seeing.
Micky Mellon – The Fleetwood boss moved to Blackpool from West Brom for £50,000 in 1994 and was voted player of the season in 1995-1996, though the infamous play-off defeat to Bradford rather ruined the year.
Phil Clarkson – Popular figure for five years at Bloomfield Road (1997-2002). Nicknamed The Ghost for his uncanny knack of arriving seemingly unseen in the box and scoring vital goals. Now a coach at the club’s Centre of Excellence.