by Mick Cain
In our second post in this series, Graham “Lanky” Lancashire reveals his all time 11 best players that he played with during his career. What a quality line up this is!
Neil Edwards (Rochdale) GK
A relative dwarf compared to most goalkeepers at only 5 feet 8 inches he more than made up for his lack of height with his excellent leap and shot stopping. I’m sure he would have made it to the very top if he was taller. A 15 year career with over 420 games proved that managers trusted him. Taffy was a former Wales U21 player who is now currently Liverpool U18 GK Coach.
Ian Measham (Burnley) RB
Meash was playing when I broke into the Burnley team and you would be hard pushed to find a better 1v1 defender than him. He was effective going forward but was one of the best defenders without being flashy or probably getting the plaudits he deserved.
Steve Davis (Burnley) CB
A ball playing Centre Half from the days when defenders were supposed to defend full-stop. Excellent passer of the ball and brought the ball out of defence superbly to link with the midfield. A ‘Big Lad’ effective at both defending and attacking set pieces.
Ashley Williams (Hednesford Town) CB
Ash had been released from West Brom at 16 and came to play for Hednesford as it was his local team. You could tell straight away that he had the potential to go and play league football being strong, quick and an excellent defender. He has gone on to surpass even my expectations by becoming a Premier League regular and captaining Wales to their first major championships in 57 years.
Gavin Johnson (Wigan Athletic) LB
Gav always looked a lot older than he actually was because he was balding in his 20’s! A player whose knees were shot but who managed to work his training schedule to be fit to play on a Saturday. An athletic full back with a great engine, his set piece delivery was excellent and if it wasn’t for his dodgy knees probably would have played at a much higher level.
David Beckham (Preston North End) RM
scored 2 and made 3 in five appearances and just oozed quality. Very quiet but utterly professional and focused for a young player. No need to say anymore!
John Steele Deary (Burnley) CM
A box to box midfielder who could tackle hard and chip in with important goals. Had a career of 20 years and not many players can do that. Maybe not a fans favourite as he wasn’t fancy just got on with his job in the most effective way for the team which managers and team mates loved. Will always tell you he was the best finisher in the club (which ever club he was at) and still does to this day with the Vintage Clarets! A great character who does excellent work fundraising and helping organise all VC matches and events.
Roberto Martinez (Wigan Athletic) CM
One of the 3 amigos brought to Wigan, Roberto along with Jesus Seba and Izidro Diaz was a bit of European flair in the English lower divisions. Adapted to the English game very well and was an excellent passer of the ball. He could handle himself in the physical lower divisions and was a real ‘student of the game’ who watched and analysed when he was a player and has been very successful as a manager.
Mark Stuart (Rochdale) LM
An old fashioned winger who could pick out players in the box with amazing accuracy. An expert free kick taker he was one of the few genuinely two-footed players I ever played with. Played with a smile on his face and was a real character in the dressing room.
Graeme Jones (Wigan Athletic) CF
Had a great 1st season with Wigan scoring a record 31 league goals which still stands. When fit Graeme was an excellent centre forward who could score all types of goals. Big and strong he also had some assists with his unselfish play. Currently working with Roberto Martinez at Everton.
Tony Ellis (Rochdale) CF
‘Elvis’ is a North West legend! Playing over 600 games and averaging a goal every 3 games he was a hero to whoever he was playing for and hated by the opposition. Never seemed to score a scruffy goal. Now imparting his knowledge to younger players as the Rochdale AFC Academy Manager.