Here at strong on paper we like to cover a spectrum of topics regarding the footballing world but there are times when our partisanship gets the better of us – this post being the perfect example.
Wes Thomas, if you didn’t know, is Cheltenham Town’s newest striker and has got off to a flyer this season with 6 goals already. Now Wes is a breed of goalscorer we’ve missed at Whaddon Road over the last few years so his emergence got me thinking about other net-bulging heroes to grace the hallowed turf.
So, with this in mind, here are my top 5 Robins strikers, but before we begin the countdown I must warn you, this is my opinion – feel free to disagree and, I’ve only picked players I have seen, so those of you with longer memories please do tell me if I’ve missed someone off the list. Without further ado, here they are…
With 6 goals in 7 appearances Wes Thomas, who was acquired from League One-bound Dagenham, has certainly proven his ability when given the chance. Beginning his career in non-league football, Wes was soon snapped up by John Still at the Daggers but never got the chance to shine with the likes of Paul Benson keeping him out of the side. A player with a great burst of speed and positional awareness – attributes that back up his reputation as Cheltenham’s very own “fox in the box” – Wes appears to have a bright future ahead of him at Whaddon Road.
My number 4 is the man who cemented my love affair with the club when I was a bright-eyed 10-year-old. The day was May 17th, 1998, and the man, Jason Eaton, punctuated a relatively boring Wembley final with a goal to bring the FA Umbro Trophy home to Cheltenham. A real poacher, Eaton was an old fashioned forward with a knack for scoring important goals. A hat trick against unbeaten Halifax was his finest moment, where, interestingly enough, his opposite striker was none other than a young Geoff Horsefield.
One half of Cheltenham’s ‘little and large’ strike force, Tony Naylor struck up a formidable partnership with Julian Alsop in 2001-2002 and quickly became a fan favourite. Picked up from Port Vale by Steve Cotterill, Naylor wowed the Cotswold crowds with clever flicks and link up play showcasing probably the best footballing brain to wear the red and white stripes. The height difference between Naylor and Alsop was the largest in the Football League (a dubious record I’m sure you’ll agree), but what Naylor lacked in size he certainly made up for with footballing magic.
Coming in a close second, Julian Alsop, or ‘Jules’ as he’s affectionately known is a mountain of a man with a heart to match. During the 2001-2002 season, Jules scored 26 goals of which the majority were headers (it is said he scored more headers that season than anyone else in the the premier league, football league or SPL) and used his height and strength to forge a dangerous partnership with number 3 on our list – Tony Naylor. Returning in the 2009-2010 season, Jules managed to walk away with the Fan’s Player of the Season award after his committed performances confirmed his place in the hearts of Robins fans.
There was only one choice for the top spot and that man is Neil Grayson. Scorer of our first Football League goal, Grayson is a legend of the club in every sense. A dynamic striker who’s goals fired us into the Football League and onwards. He also scored what I consider the best Cheltenham goal of all time where, from a goal kick he let the ball bounce once, then, positioned on the halfway line, “Larry” swiveled and volleyed the ball over the stunned opposition’s keeper (please if anyone knows when and against whom this goal was, let me know, I can only remember it from the we are football league videotape!). Voted the best Cheltenham player of all time in a Sky Sports poll, Grayson has always been a player afforded heroic status amongst fans, and for good reason – in 162 appearances for the club he scored 48 times, a feat unmatched by any other Robin of the modern era.
So there you have it, my top 5 Cheltenham strikers, who knows, maybe Wes Thomas can force is way up the order in the coming seasons and as for you guys, thanks for indulging me and supporting the blog! If you have an opinion on your favourite Cheltenham Town strikers please do comment or take part in the poll below…
Stay tuned for more posts and some guest bloggers to give us a different perspective on the beautiful game.