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FL125: Our greatest ever ...

17 April 2014

... as voted for by YOU!

Bill Shankly is largely remembered for his exploits as Liverpool manager but it all started for him at Carlisle United – and he has been voted as the Cumbrians’ greatest ever boss by the club’s fans in a poll conducted as part of The Football League's 125th Anniversary celebrations.

Shankly began his playing career at Carlisle too, and returned to take over as manager in 1949, helping them stabilise in Third Division North after a few difficult campaigns. By the time he departed in 1951 he had mounted an ultimately unsuccessful tilt at promotion and also led Carlisle to an FA Cup draw with Arsenal at Highbury. He collected 47% of the votes, ahead of Alan Ashman (37%) and Bob Stokoe (16%).

Carlisle’s greatest ever captain is Kevin Gray, who dominated the vote with 66%. Gray joined Carlisle in 2003 and they were relegated from The Football League a year later, but bounced back as Conference Play-Off winners at the first attempt before going on to win the League 2 title in 2006 – all with the central defender in the team. He beat Peter McConnell and David Reeves to the honour.

Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood was a colleague of Gray’s in the 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons and the current Sunderland stopper was ever-present in the latter of those campaigns, plus 2007/08, winning him the vote as Carlisle’s greatest ever player on 44%, ahead of Matt Jansen (37%) and striker Reeves (19%).

But you have to go back to 1973/74 to find the season voted as Carlisle’s best. That year they finished third in the Second Division, earning promotion to the top flight for the first time. The campaign picked up almost half of the votes, ahead of 1994/95 and 1974/75.

Shankly, Gray and Westwood 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 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.  The polls were run by The Football League to celebrate each club’s own contribution to the last 125 years of league football.  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.

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.

A list of the winners in each category can be seen at, and a club-by-club breakdown for each vote with more detail on the winners can be seen at

Supporters can find out more about The Football League’s 125th Anniversary at  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.  The exhibition is free to enter and open 7 days a week – for more details visit

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