This season Prostate Cancer UK is the official charity of The
Football League. To celebrate, we've asked bloggers from each of
the 72 clubs to count down their top five strikers to have worn the
No9 shirt, in recognition of the fact that prostate cancer
affects one in nine men.
Visionary Valiant: Martin Foyle was more than just a goal poacher. Photo courtesy of Action Images
Here blogger Rob Fielding, from onevalefan.co.uk, selects
Port Vale's five best No9s… and one to forget!
5. Basil Hayward
The centre-forward for Vale's legendary 1954 'Iron Curtain' side,
Hayward played a key role as the side racked up a record-breaking
promotion and became the first Division Three side to appear in an
FA Cup semi-final. Originally a centre-half, Hayward was converted
into a forward with such success that he was an ever-present for
two seasons as Stan Steele's side set new standards and broke
numerous club records.
4. Tony Naylor
For many Vale fans, diminutive striker Tony Naylor was one of the
most gifted players to appear up front for the Valiants. Naylor
didn't score many tap-ins, but when he was in form, his eye for the
spectacular swiftly made him into a terrace idol. One strike
against Sunderland in 1997 sticks out - stationed on the touchline,
Naylor backheeled the ball past his marker and cut inside,
bamboozling defenders before effortlessly curling the ball into the
far corner of the net.
3. Andy Jones (1985-87 &
A powerhouse of a centre-forward, Jones was arguably the most
important signing that legendary manager John Rudge made. Signed
from Rhyl for just £3,000, the striker was virtually unplayable
during the 1986-1987 season as he smashed in 37 goals, including
five in a 6-1 thrashing of Newport County. His form was such that
he earned a Welsh cap and duly scored on his debut. His subsequent
£350,000 move to Charlton Athletic then enabled Rudge to purchase
the players that would take Vale into the rarefied heights of
2. Martin Foyle (1991
The club's greatest goalscorer of the modern era, Foyle was so
much more than just a goal poacher. Possessing a good first touch
and great vision, he also set up numerous chances for his striking
partners. Nevertheless, Foyle himself still managed a highly
creditable 107 goals in 356 games and was twice voted the club's
player of the year. After retiring as a player, he became a coach
and also had a three-year spell as first-team manager.
1. Wilf Kirkham (1923-29
A shoe-in as the club's greatest striker, locally-born Kirkham
hammered in a club record 164 goals in just 276 games during two
spells at Port Vale. The holder of numerous other club records, the
former teacher hit 12 hat-tricks and scored four goals in a game...
And the worst…
Vale fans were understandably excited when the club announced the
signing of a Finnish international striker on trial and Viljanen
quickly sealed a permanent move after three goals in his first four
games. Sadly, he only managed three more in the next 33 games as
fans swiftly discovered that, somewhat ironically, their Finnish
'star' simply couldn't finish...
Follow Rob on Twitter @OneValeFan