Your club’s worst player... EVER! As voted for by the fans


Accrington Stanley (Justin Jackson)

By Lee Walker (@leewasi)

Stanley have had some truly abysmal strikers over the years, but the majority of those arrived on free transfers or loans, and with little or no previous history.

Jackson, however, is an exception to the rule having been signed for £150,000 by his previous club Doncaster. Perhaps we should have known when Rovers’ chairman decided to pay up his contract.

Still, having arrived on a free, much was expected of Jackson after productive spells in the Conference, where he was top scorer in the 1999/2000 season. It wasn’t to be: after a couple of appearances (including one of Stanley's classic FA Cup wins against Huddersfield in 2003, it should be noted) he was moved on six weeks later after failing to turn up for training.  

You can see Jackson below, wearing No.24, dancing around during the celebrations against Huddersfield. Needless to say, he’s not remembered for much else.

AFC Wimbledon (Andre Blackman)

By Gary Jordan (@Gazjor1)

The 26-year-old-back left-back was on the books of both Arsenal and Tottenham at youth level – but that’s as good as it got. After being released by Bristol City for a “disciplinary matter”, he landed at AFC Wimbledon in June 2010.

An OK pre-season included a winner against an Arsenal XI, and he duly got the nod for first-team duties. But only 13 league appearances (and six yellow cards) later, Blackman was deemed “surplus to requirements”.

His temperament always overshadowed any ability he may have had. Unbelievably he landed at Celtic next – if not for long – but duly failed to hit double figures for appearances at seven clubs after AFC Wimbledon (including a brief stint in Morocco). He’s now finally found a home at Crawley, where he’s a first-team regular.

(There’s no AFC Wimbledon clip, but this sums him up nicely.)

Arsenal (Igor Stepanovs)

By Tim Stillman (@Stillberto)

Like Gus Caesar, Stepanovs will only ever be remembered for one game.

Arsenal travelled to Old Trafford in February 2001 with a depleted defence; thus, a back four of Oleg Luzhny, Gilles Grimandi, a young Ashley Cole and Stepanovs were torn limb from limb by United, who had raced into a 5-1 lead by half-time and eventually won 6-1.

Dwight Yorke had netted a hat trick by the 35th minute, with the gangly Latvian centre-back trailing comically in his wake. That Stepanovs started nine consecutive games in the spring of 2002 – during the Gunners’ Double-winning run – will be forgotten, his brief Arsenal legacy forever besmirched by that fateful afternoon in Manchester.

Ray Parlour spins a good yarn about him and his Gunners team-mates deliberately overstating Stepanovs’ ability to Arsene Wenger while the stopper was on trial, in order to wind up the notoriously anxious Martin Keown. Talk about a joke backfiring.

Aston Villa (Aleksandar Tonev)

By Ian Woodcock (@Ian_A_Woodcock)

The words ‘worst’ and ‘Aston Villa’ have spent a concerning amount of time together over recent years. So with that in mind, I've plumped for a player who was – if only briefly – part of the club's decline.

Aleksandar Tonev arrived at Villa Park in the summer of 2013 with a recommendation from countryman and Villa legend Stiliyan Petrov, plus the customary YouTube video of him scoring goals from miles out.

Sadly, what Villa got was a midfielder who couldn’t tackle, pass or cross. The shots which had bothered Bulgarian nets now either flew over the bar or dribbled forlornly past the post. Not that it stopped Tonev attempting them from 40 yards whenever he’d found his way onto the pitch.

Villa won just two of his 17 league appearances, and he was farmed out on loan to Celtic for the next season. Tonev endured an equally unhappy time north of the border after he was handed a seven-match ban for racially abusing Aberdeen full-back Shay Logan.

He's currently on the verge of being relegated to Serie B with Crotone, having achieved the same feat with Frosinone last season. Aleksandar the not-so-great.

Barnet (Mark Flashman)

By @Barnet_Bee

Check out the forum thread yourself: Flashman has cropped up a number of times in there. Even then, the comments perhaps don’t justify him.

Mark Flashman, son of then-chairman Stan, played a number of games under Barry Fry in the late 1980s. Whether or not he was in the team because of family relations is for the cynics to decide but, playing second fiddle to regular keeper Gary Phillips, he enjoyed a few run-outs in the first team.

Flashman played the final day of one Conference season, with the first team rested for a local League Cup final the next day, and had an utter howler as they were humiliated 5-1.

During one reserves game he received some heckling from a Barnet fan, which riled Daddy Stan enough to ask whether the critic ‘would like to keep his legs’. He replied that it would do the club a favour if Mark lost his – and quickly left the stadium.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Barnsley (Mounir El Haimour)

By Simon Gaskell (@simongaskell)

Honourable mentions go to Kevin Donovan, Don Goodman, Deon Burton, Isaiah Rankin and Lee Crooks, but it’s a man who arrived from Swiss football that sadly sticks in the memory.

Moroccan Mounir El Haimour was one of a number of imports brought in by Simon Davey during the summer of 2008, arriving from Copy & Paste’s Neuchâtel Xamax. And while no doubt arriving in Barnsley was a culture shock for him, watching El Haimour play was an even bigger shock for Tykes.

The winger was a stooping, diminutive character, and what he lacked in stature he by no means made up for in technique. He was ostensibly a playmaker as left-footed as Lionel Messi – just without goals, assists or ability to pass accurately to a bloke stood 10 metres away.

Thankfully he was often on the bench, and I have a clear memory of the half-time drill where subs stand in a circle and attempt to keep the ball in the air. It regularly broke down when it got to El Haimour.

His Wikipedia page seems stuck in time; the most up-to-date entry says he is unemployed after being released by Barnsley (in 2010), suggesting he was unable to find another club following his time in South Yorkshire. It really is little wonder.

Birmingham City (Carlo(s) Costly)

By Luke Turner (@lukeee_96)

He seems to have changed his first name to 'Carlo' since, but he was definitely 'Carlos' when he was at Birmingham. And he was also rubbish.

Birmingham have never been blessed with outstanding quality, which makes choosing the worst player we've ever had very difficult. But still: former Honduras striker Costly manages to stick out.

Brought in on loan to help add goals and win the Blues promotion, Costly failed to score in eight appearances for Alex McLeish’s side in the 2008/09 Championship season. A horrendous one-on-one miss against Crystal Palace in his first start set the tone for his stay, and the team scored just once while he was on the pitch.

Birmingham still went up but it certainly didn’t have anything to do with the Honduran. Costly is best remembered for his trademark drag-back skill known as the ‘Costlynha’ back in Honduras, which was mocked by the St Andrew’s crowd every time he attempted it. Perhaps most impressive, though, was how he managed to fall over his own feet in the warm-up before one game.

The bizarre thing is that Costly actually has a decent record at both club and international level. Sadly for us, though, his stay in the West Midlands didn’t live up to expectation.

Blackburn Rovers (Leon Best)

By Mike Delap (@MikeyDelap)

I did a little crowdsourcing on this one via Twitter, and a lot of the votes were cast for players who've ‘graced’ the club over the last four or five years. That’s unsurprising really, since we've been terrible in the main. Someone who can’t escape this, however, is Leon Best.  

Signed to mild fanfare from Newcastle for relatively eye-watering money – over £3m, plus wages near £40,000 per week – Best spent about three weeks being useful (post-major injury setback) and then the rest of his time causing dressing room unrest, being loathed for his attitude, packed off on loan ruining other club's efforts, and posting on Instagram.

We've had plenty of rubbish players in our time, but rarely to such disruptive effect.

Blackpool (Richard Kingson)

By Kieran Newcombe (@kierannewcombe)

The Ghanaian goalkeeper came in part-way through the 2010/11 Premier League season as back-up to Matt Gilks – but (unfortunately) he was called into action after an injury to Gilks ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Kingson came in and had moments of brilliance, but will unfortunately be remembered for his moments of madness. In one game at Blackburn in March 2011, Blackpool threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2, with Junior Hoilett scoring in injury time after Kingson had fluffed his handling of a free-kick.

Many Pool fans put a sizeable amount of blame for relegation on his shoulders, and it came as no surprise when he was released at the end of the season. It was two years before he got another club, in Cyprus; since then he’s played in Turkey, and is currently back in his hometown of Accra, Ghana.  

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Bolton Wanderers (Gerald Cid)

By Tom Winrow

When deciding upon Bolton's worst-ever player, the chances were that it was always going to be a Sam Allardyce signing. Sure, the Dudley-ite had an eye for untapped potential, but he often saw abilities in a player that were never really there. For every unearthed gem, there was a disaster story. For every Jay-Jay Okocha, a Blessing Kaku. For every Djorkaeff, a Jardel.

Step forward Allardyce's last-ever Bolton signing, Gerald Cid. Labelled by Big Sam in 2006 as "one of the best young defenders in France", Cid would go on to make just 14 appearances for Wanderers, finding himself on the losing side eight times. One anomaly in his otherwise-horrendous Bolton career was the surprisingly brilliant performance in the 2-2 Europa League draw with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

Cid left the Reebok after just 18 months at the club when his contract was cancelled by "mutual consent". Both parties mutually agreed that he shouldn't be seen anywhere near a Premier League football pitch again. Following two seasons at Nice he retired in 2010, aged just 27, citing a loss of love for football.

Bournemouth (Frank Demouge)

By Chris Lines (@NarrowTheAngle)

It would seem a prerequisite for a club’s worst-ever player to be one who promised much and delivered nothing. Step forward, then, Frank Demouge. Signed in 2012 at the recommendation of the board (uh oh), he sounded like the sort of talismanic striker Bournemouth needed.

Described as big and powerful, Demouge had a pedigree of scoring hatfuls in Dutch football. But as we know, goals in the Eredivisie are like dog years in reverse; divide by seven to get your expected goal return in England.

What we also failed to deduce in our doubtless-rigorous and in no way quarter-arsed scouting of Big Frank was that he was, in fact, the first Airfix model footballer, assembled out of balsa wood and Pritt Stick by a cack-handed child. Even the BBC website story announcing his signing was accompanied by a photo of him with a heavily bandaged head and a black eye. In one of his two (two!) appearances, he even managed to break his chin. Who breaks their chin?

“He will cause teams problems,” said blank-faced simpleton boss Paul Groves. The only team he caused a problem for was Bournemouth.

Bradford (Jason Gavin)

By Jason McKeown (@TheWidthofaPost)

The 2003/04 season was supposed to be a celebration for Bradford. Instead, we marked our centenary by going into administration and feebly getting relegated. Our cause was undermined by a backline that featured Jason Gavin.

Gavin was a young Middlesbrough defender with a supposedly-bright future – amazingly, he’d played 31 Premier League games. But after joining the Bantams we failed to see that pedigree. Week in, week out, City would toil hard but make mistakes at the back that lost them the game – and in so many of those weeks, they came from Gavin.

He wasn’t comfortable on the ball, nor strong in the air, and when an opposition player received the ball in the box he exuded panic.

For his general ineptitude, and association with one of City’s worst-ever seasons, Gavin’s name can still trigger an involuntary shudder for those of us who endured his 41 appearances in claret and amber.

(He is No.17 and gives away the penalty six seconds in.)

Brentford (Murray Jones)

By Nick Bruzon (@NickBruzon)

Neil Shipperley. Steve Claridge. Nick Proschwitz. John Swift. We’ve had some stinkers over the years. Yet ask any five Brentford fans who our worst-ever footballer was and you can guarantee at least five of them will mention one name: Murray Jones.

It wasn’t that he was bad – he was beyond that. Ali Dia will forever be the great fraud, but it was almost as though the same stunt had been tried at Griffin Park back in 1992/93, after centre-back Keith Millen had apparently recommended the player to Bees management.

With Brentford having finally reached the second tier, Jones was tasked with filling the boots of Premier League-bound Dean Holdsworth. Deano’s 38 goals from 52 appearances in our title-winning season had earned him a move to Wimbledon, and so Jones was brought in to replace him from Grimsby.

Yet while Dia lasted less than an hour before he was eventually rumbled, striker Jones limped on for 20 appearances until March 1993 without scoring. Nobody could doubt his effort, but it was painful to watch; there was an almost-ghoulish interest in wondering how long his streak would last.

Eventually, even manager Phil Holder had to call it a day. The nadir came in Jones’s failure to find the net against nine-man Swindon. Murray truly was anything but mint (although he did later play in China for a bit, so perhaps he was just cool before his time).

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Brighton (Michael Mahoney-Johnson)

Scott McCarthy (@wearebrighton)

Playing in a side that finished second-bottom of the entire Football League with 35 points, saved only from non-league football by the sheer miracle that there was a Doncaster team even worse, it takes something special to look more useless than your terrible team-mates.

Take a bow, then, Michael Mahoney-Johnson. The striker arrived at the Albion on loan from QPR, playing a grand total of four games. Those four games ended 0-0, 0-2, 0-0 and 0-0, with Mahoney-Johnson particularly distinguished by failing to manage a shot on target, let alone score a goal.

Needless to say, his temporary stay wasn’t extended. The fact we’re now able to lump into the same bracket a player who’s racked up millions in transfer fees like Leon Best, after an equally disastrous loan spell in 2014/15, shows how far we’ve come in the last 20 years.

Bristol City (Bas Savage)

By Patrick Connolly (@Bristolpat)

Savage was a much-loved figure at Ashton Gate, and is still talked about affectionately today. He always gave 100%, and because of this became a cult hero with the fans. It’s just that he wasn’t very good at football.

Bas was a 6ft 3in centre-forward. He joined in 2005 having played 25 career games elsewhere, and never having scored a goal. We soon saw why. Recently I was reminded of the time when Bas trapped the ball and made a short pass. The Bristol City crowd erupted like we’d won the Champions League.

It’s a little harsh to call him our worst-ever player when so many better men have played so terribly for us; not least Nicky Hunt, Jody Morris and ex-England keeper David James.

But still: Savage played 23 games for City and scored one goal. His celebration is still remembered by everyone who was there – and many who weren’t.

Bristol Rovers (Andy Spring)

By Nathan Bees (@nathbees)

In taking to Twitter to gauge the opinion of Gasheads about who deserved this title,  my phone went into meltdown. I instantly received dozens of notifications nominating the same player: Andy Spring – a legend for all the wrong reasons.

He featured for us before I was born, but the general consensus is that he was an “overweight, untalented, unfit, Sunday League defender”. One Gashead said his step-dad used to laugh out loud every time Spring touched the ball in sheer disbelief that a player so bad was being paid to play professionally.

That in itself might make him a worthy recipient of this accolade, but he achieved notoriety for his off-field antics rather than his lack of ability. He was sacked by Rovers after being found guilty of burglary, moved to Ireland and then, unbelievably, won the Irish national lottery! Where is the justice?

Burnley (Leon Cort)

Jamie Smith (@NoNayNever)

Burnley's worst-ever player might be a touch harsh, but Leon Cort is certainly the club's worst player for a long time.

Bought by Brian Laws from Stoke in 2010 to shore up a leaky defence after Owen Coyle's defection to Bolton, the centre-back frequently seemed confused as to what he was doing playing in the Premier League – a feeling supporters shared.

Lacking mobility to the extent of looking like Bambi’s slow cousin on ice, Cort was a sign of the club’s muddled thinking back then. He cost over £2m in fees and wages – loads for Burnley at that time – before being bombed out to League One Charlton after just 19 appearances. Urgh.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Burton Albion (Guy Branston)

By Anton Williams (@monkeynuts87)

Since joining the Football League in 2009, the Brewers have made a few interesting signings who split opinion. For me, though, the worst player we’ve had on our books in that time was Guy Branston.

Supposedly an experienced centre-half in League football, Branston came to the Brewers from Kettering and was made club captain – but by January he was being loaned to Torquay after a less-than-impressive few months at Burton.

In his brief spell with the Brewers he made 19 appearances – and managed to get himself sent off three times.

(Not from his Burton days, but Guy in shapshot. Accompanying commentary necessary.)

We never really found out the true potential of his football ability, but his conduct on and off the pitch is what the Brewers fans remember about him. As Jeff Stelling used to say on Soccer Saturday when Guy was sent off: “Oh dear, Branston’s got himself in a pickle again.”

Bury (Gareth Roberts)

By Liam Smith (@liam_bish_smith)

After Bury's relegation to League Two following a dismal 2012/13 season, boss Kevin Blackwell had the task of rebuilding a squad to compete in the fourth tier.

One of his first signings of the season was Gareth Roberts. The 35-year-old had played 29 Championship games for Derby in the previous campaign, and was quickly declared the new captain of the club. Fans were excited about the new additions – but that didn’t last long.

The Shakers were defeated 2-0 on the opening day of the season, and it quickly became apparent that Gareth turned at a slower rate than milk. After a few games Bury found themselves just above the relegation zone, and Roberts was taking a lot of the blame.  

At times it felt like a five-year-old could organise a romantic weekend in Rome better than Roberts could marshal a defence. Unsurprisingly, he went on to make just 13 appearances for the Shakers that season before being released in January by new boss David Flitcroft.

Roberts’ agent worked his magic and miraculously got him a move to League One side Notts County, where he played six times as they marginally avoided relegation.

Cambridge United (Daryl Clare)

By Scott McGeorge (@Scotty_mc10)

Clare arrived from Gateshead for £10,000 in 2010, which seemed like a decent piece of business considering he’d been a regular thorn in our side during his time in Conference football.  

The striker signed a two-year deal but only lasted 15 months at the club, managing a solitary goal in 20 appearances – much to the dismay of the Cambridge fans who’d been purring at the thought of seeing the possibly-potent frontman in amber and black.

Instead, Clare was turfed out on loan to Alfreton and mutually released from his contract shortly after.

Cardiff (Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu)

By Steve Davies-Evans (@The_Real_SDE)

It's sad that trying to think of the worst-ever Cardiff player is a lot harder than you might think. Like everyone else we’ve had some absolute howlers, and although they didn't make the final cut, there are big shout-outs to the likes of Dean Gordon, Stephen Bywater, Dimi Konstantopoulos and J-Lloyd Samuel – all particularly terrible when they pulled on a Bluebirds shirt.

But after much deliberation and a lack of sleep, I ended up plumping for the one and only Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu.

Dave Jones did some fantastic business during his time at Cardiff, but signing the man affectionately known as "Congo Dave" did not fall into such a bracket.

The striker (apparently) with an unspellable name was signed from Darlington in January 2006 after he’d scored 10 goals in 20 games for the Quakers. In reality, though, he was better at finding half-time fans’ Bovrils than the back of the net.

No goals in 11 appearances for Cardiff meant he was released at the end of the season, but he’ll forever remain in Bluebirds folklore... I think.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Carlisle (Steve Livingstone)

By Lee Rooney (@leerooney)

Following in the footsteps of his father Joe Livingstone – 42 goals in 82 appearances for Carlisle in the 1960s – Steve arrived from Grimsby (where he remains a popular figure) in the summer of 2003.

He was meant to fill the targetman void, but his career at Brunton Park was an unmitigated disaster. He was sent off barely half an hour into his debut on the opening day of the season against York after a clash with Chris Brass (he of wonderful own goal fame, who Livingstone appeared to bite).

Boss Paul Simpson (who’d replaced Roddy Collins, the man who signed Steve) tried him out at centre-back after a hopeless run up front – but his first game in the new role led to yet another red card, this time against Lincoln.

The stats speak for themselves: nine appearances, three yellow cards, two red cards and zero goals. Livingstone retired early in January 2004, and it’s safe to say no one in Cumbria was particularly gutted to see him leave.

Charlton (Yohann Thuram-Ulien)

By Matias Grez (@matias_grez)

The name alone is enough to send a shiver down spines – Thuram-Ulien quickly proved that he and cousin Lillian don't share a single strand of footballing DNA.

He isn’t just named here for his inability to even slightly resemble a competent professional goalkeeper, but for what he symbolises under the current Roland Duchatelet regime too. According to reports, former manager Chris Powell was ordered to play him (by Duchatelet, of course) ahead of Ben Hamer for four matches (results: L3 D1). After that he went AWOL, refusing to travel to a game at Leeds in a huff at not being played regularly. 

In truth, any number of signings from Duchatelet's European network could have taken the crown. But for his sheer incompetence it has to be Thuram-Ulien – not even Powell’s replacement, the Duchatelet yes man Jose Riga, thought he was good enough.

Chelsea (Chris Sutton)

By @ChelseaStats

Sutton isn’t Chelsea’s worst-ever player, but he’s high on the list for disappointment – enough to earn him this vote, anyway. 

The striker joined the Blues for a hefty £10m from Blackburn in 1999, with a rich top-flight scoring pedigree and Premier League winner’s medal to his name. But he failed to live up to expectations, scoring just three goals in 39 appearances in all competitions.

The only highlight was his solitary league goal against Manchester United in a 5-0 win for Claudio Ranieri’s side, and it came as no surprise when he was sold to Celtic a year and six days after joining, for £6m.

Sutton's rare moment of glory at 0:33

For me, that expenditure and subsequent disappointment ranks him above the likes of Mineiro and Slavisa Jokanovic.

Cheltenham (Craig Braham-Barrett)

By Oli Fell (@OJF97)

Cheltenham's relegated side of 2015 featured a number of contenders for this unwanted title, but it’s Braham-Barrett who claims it. (Just a dishonourable mention for Mathieu Manset, then.)

Braham-Barrett initially signed on loan in the 2013/14 season, but after impressing early on in the season he was offered a two-year-deal. After joining permanently, though, his performances spiralled badly and he could never regain his form.

However, his 'crowning' moment at the club was undoubtedly when he – along with Jermaine McGlashan – admitted to not trying in a training session before a 2-0 defeat at Rochdale. Exposed by keeper Scott Brown in an interview after the game, Braham-Barrett issued an apology to Cheltenham fans and only spent one more year at the club.

In the years he was with us, Cheltenham finished 16th and 23rd – the latter our first relegation back to non-league. He currently plies his trade for Braintree Town.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Chesterfield (Jason Lee)

By Rob Cole (@robcole_91)

There’s a vast choice of players I’ve questioned who could possibly be professional at Chesterfield. Jason Lee is one – our record signing who managed one measly goal in 44 games, tripping over his shoelaces after rounding the goalkeeper.

Was there ever a bigger waste of £250,000? Not at Chesterfield, anyway.

“It was disgusting, the old Saltergate,” Lee huffed on Soccer AM years later. “I was the record signing and the club signed me on the premise that they’d be getting a new stadium – but I didn’t see it. It was just horrible.”

Lee had three seasons of top-flight football behind him at Nottingham Forest, and the year before signing for us had helped Graham Taylor’s Watford win the old Second Division with 10 league goals.

In truth, the only reason he signed for us was because he didn’t want to move his family out of Nottingham, and we were close – but how we wish he hadn’t. In his second season he was chucked out on loan to Peterborough, then joined them permanently before sliding down the League system.

Colchester United (Adrian Coote)

By Jon Waldron (@JonWaldron1)

There wasn’t much doubt about striker Coote’s ability or talent – anyone who can make more than 50 appearances for a club like Norwich and also represent his country can hardly be lacking in skill.

But when the Northern Ireland international arrived at Colchester in 2001 for a then-club record fee of £50,000, a great deal more was expected of him than what was ultimately produced – which is why his abject failure at Layer Road was such a huge disappointment at the time.

After less than two years at Colchester – and having mustered a measly four goals – the striker was released by mutual consent.

Coote ended up playing at the U’s neighbours Wivenhoe Town and a succession of other non-league minnows, before hanging up his boots while still in his early thirties.

Coventry (Kevin Kyle)

By Laurence Kilpatrick (@Thelonelyseason)

After sifting through the glut of Sky Blue contenders, it’s only fair to shame someone who’s tarnished at least a season’s worth of fixtures with their singular breed of ineptitude.

Admittedly, it wasn’t his fault that he – the human tower of Buckfast – was signed as cultured golden boy Gary McSheffrey’s overpaid replacement (a decision about as progressive as lobbing your 3D printer out the window and dusting off the hammer and sickle). In Kyle’s own words: “I was on a hiding to nothing from the start.”

Whether it was his predecessor’s shadow, or the blend of lazy, attritional football his brutal physicality encouraged, Kyle was universally disliked – a fact not lost on his big, angry face.

In his best game for the club, a 2-1 home win over Southampton, he got an assist and a goal – but in classic Kyle style (and who can blame him?) even his celebration was a taunting hand to the ear (quickly replaced with a Shearer arm raise) aimed at the incorrigible terraces.

In his last five appearances we conceded 14 goals and lost every one. Everything came to a head in his final game when, desperate to win us over, he got sent off and was booed/cheered from the pitch. After a stint cleaning ferry toilets he’s now – weirdly enough – hitting the target for a living, as a semi-professional darts player.

Crawley (Gavin Tomlin)

By Carol Bates (@CarolBates)

After a consensus of opinion, Nick Carter is probably our worst player ever – he was one of the owners' sons and unkindly referred to recently on social media as the "worst player, best bib, ball and cone collector".

But his impact was minimal. Therefore, a special mention has to go to Gavin Tomlin, who had a torrid time at Crawley from 2014-16 after signing from Port Vale. He looked unable to control a ball, pass accurately, or – unhelpfully for a striker – score.  

We’ll give him this, though: one of his three league goals in 51 appearances and two years at the Broadfield Stadium was a late winner at Swindon, celebrated like we'd won the FA Cup. It was totally unexpected, and we hadn't beaten Swindon in a long time. That, however, was the only silver lining.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Crewe Alexandra (Jamie Moralee)

By Matt Withers (@mattwithers)

Despite playing just 20 games for the club between 1996 and 1998, Moralee’s name remains comic shorthand for the kind of low-calibre strikers Crewe Alexandra seemed to specialise in signing around the time.

Let go by Watford (legend has it that his agent told him “the Beatles were rejected by EMI before they struck it big”), the former £450,000 man came to Gresty Road with slight celebrity cachet, having received tabloid interest in his liaison with soap star Daniella Westbrook.

But that soon waned as, in two years, he not only failed to score but never even came close, wandering confusedly around the opposition half as if he’d won a charity raffle to play. On the one occasion he looked set to take a shot, against Bournemouth in December 1996, fellow frontman Dele Adebola was so concerned that he nicked the ball off him and put it away.

Moralee went on to play in the Champions League – for Barry Town… who beat Porto 3-1 (in a 9-3 aggregate defeat, mind).

Crystal Palace (Jordon Mutch)

By Jack Pierce (@Jackpierce88)

It’s perhaps a little harsh to label Mutch the worst of all time, but given the relative expense and non-existent return, he gets the nod.

Some players split supporters, but not Mutch. Shortly after making his debut in January 2015, the jury had decided: this guy was not for us.

Signed for a reported £4.75m from QPR by Alan Pardew, Mutch never got going. In acquiring him, Pardew – a manager so restricted in terms of recruitment at Newcastle – appeared willing to spend cash on anyone he could.

Mutch failed to impress as a box-to-box midfielder, a playmaker and in a deep lying role. In two years, his most memorable moments at the club have been a decent 10 minutes at the Liberty Stadium in a 1-1 draw, and an interview with the club’s online TV service during which he went to a café.

Currently on loan at Reading and technically still a Palace player, there aren’t many yearning for his return. When it comes to Jordon, it’s sadly been Mutch Ado About Nothing.

Derby (Claude Davis)

By Ollie Wright (@derbycountyblog)

For Derby’s nadir, it’s impossible to ignore 2007/08. I considered nominating that season’s whole squad, but the enduring symbol of the record-breaking incompetence we endured that year was Billy Davies’ idea of a £3m centre-back.

Even among the raft of embarrassing signings Davies made that summer – other hopeless cases included Andy Todd, Eddie Lewis and Andy Griffin – Davis takes the crown. Rapidly earning nicknames like ‘Calamity Claude’ and ‘Clod’ – to select some publishable ones – the diabolical defender was found out horribly in the Premier League and his reputation was shattered so thoroughly that he eventually had his contract cancelled.

When he returned to Pride Park with Crystal Palace – for whom he was equally appalling – the next season, he committed an error so crass for Derby’s fifth goal that you'd have suspected a better player of trying to make amends to the home fans.

Doncaster (Aaron Taylor-Sinclair)

By Rob Johnson

Given that Doncaster hold the record for the highest number of losses in a single season (34, if you're wondering), it’s quite difficult to pick just one player as the worst to wear the red-and-white hoops.

Most of the players involved in that disastrous season only played a handful of games, however, so in terms of longevity there can be only one 'winner'.

Aaron Taylor-Sinclair arrived from Wigan at the start of the 2015/16 season to bolster our promotion push. He featured in 49 games and never once resembled a footballer in any of them as Donny slumped to relegation – a full-back that can't tackle, pass or cross a ball, who became a symbol of our monstrous failure.

Amazingly, he is still at the club but has been injured for the entirety of a season that currently sees Rovers top of League Two. This is not a coincidence.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Everton (Glenn Keeley)

By Gary Naylor (@garynaylor999)

Keeley wasn't a bad player, but in 37 unforgettable minutes (it's true, I've tried) he became Everton's worst.

On loan from Blackburn, the big centre-half wasn't match-fit nor attuned to the new rule about "the professional foul" which made for an automatic sending off – but he was cruelly pitched into Goodison's cauldron, 52,741 fans roiling on the terraces and not a neutral among them.

Liverpool had Dalglish, Rush, Souness, Hansen and Lawrenson in peak form and, to resist them, we had Keeley. At least we did, until he grabbed at Dalglish's shirt (the closest he got to him all day) and jogged off after seeing red.

In a match where a 0-10 scoreline wouldn’t have flattered the Reds, I’d left after four had gone in. The horror!

But that Everton team also included Southall, Heath, Sharp, Sheedy and Richardson. It’s always darkest before dawn, they say – and they (whoever that might be) were right.

The 'highlights' (I'm in the top left corner of the Gwladys Street End)

Exeter City (Rohan Ricketts)

By Josh Denham

Ricketts, an ex-Arsenal and Tottenham youth player who’d been around the block and back again more than once – Exeter were his 12th club by the age of 29 – arrived at St James Park with self-confidence in spades.

“I know I am good enough to play in the Premier League, I have the ability and the football brain but it is about getting the opportunity,” he said upon signing for the Grecians, his first English club in four years.  

But, given such a platform, he donned the red-and-white shirt for all of 50 minutes in his only appearance (off the bench) before citing 'personal reasons' for leaving inside a month.

It turned out that he’d actually just got a better offer from Indian club Dempo, which he followed up with moves to Ecuador, Thailand, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and… er, Leatherhead (where he lasted just over a month under Jimmy Bullard). Oh, Rohan.

Fleetwood (Richard Brodie)

By John Woolfenden (@TheWulfster)

This is actually a tough one to answer as a Fleetwood fan – believe it or not, in general we’ve had more than our fair share of good players.

Looking back, though, it must be Brodie. The lad wasn’t without talent, but was a complete headcase. On the day he signed on loan from Crawley for the 2011/12 season, he was in my local on the lash.  

Brodie scored twice and was sent off within the first 30 minutes of a 6-0 local derby win over Southport (a brace for Jamie Vardy too in that game, if you’re asking). He once got booked against Yeovil in an FA Cup replay… and wasn't even on the pitch.

Nine goals in 34 Conference games isn’t a horrible record, but Brodie was the sort of player you look back on and think, "What a waste".

Fulham (Mark Fotheringham)

By Thomas McIlroy (@thomasmcilroy)

There can’t be many players who sum up Felix Magath’s reign at Fulham more than Fotheringham. The Whites had just been relegated from the Premier League, Magath was talking about going straight back up (how wrong he was) – and then signed Fotheringham before the start of the 2014/15 season.

The 30-year-old midfielder had been released by League One side Notts County at the end of the previous season, but somehow landed himself a one-year deal at Craven Cottage.

Fulham really should have realised then that Magath had absolutely no idea about how to get them out of the Championship – and sure enough, Fotheringham was out of his depth in the three appearances he made.

After Magath was sacked in September, Fotheringham was shown the door in January by new boss Kit Symons. He picked up more yellow cards (2) than he made successful tackles (1) during his time at Craven Cottage.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Gillingham (Adam Miller)

By Danny Smith (@NiceMarker)

Miller was one of several non-league players signed in 2007 by manager Mark Stimson, who emphatically failed to prevent the Gills getting relegated at the end of that season. Miller stood out because of the massive disparity between what the manager apparently saw in him (hard work and determination) and what everyone else in the stands saw (consistent ineffectiveness).

Miller’s Gillingham career was encapsulated by the televised third-round FA Cup tie against Aston Villa in 2009. Handed the captaincy for the big occasion, he ran around looking busy and pointed a lot, which would no doubt have pleased his boss.

Unfortunately for Gillingham, he was also at fault for the first goal after being caught in possession in his own half, before giving away a late penalty for what turned out to be the winner. As usual Miller tried hard, but in truth he should probably have never left the Conference.

Grimsby (Adam Buckley)

By Charles Simons

Harrowing years in non-league may come to mind, but for many, Buckley – son of former manager and Grimsby legend Alan – is regarded as both the worst and most disliked player.

Buckley Jr, who joined his father at Blundell Park from West Brom in the late 1990s, was reviled by the Grimsby faithful during the 1999/2000 season. This was mainly due to his father repeatedly playing him on the left wing despite his obvious lack of skill, pace and general ability; his continued selection also meant cultured left-footers and fan favourites Kingsley Black and David Smith were regularly left sitting on the bench.

Whenever Buckley was hauled off (which was nearly every game he started), he was booed. No surprise, then, that after his old man was sacked just two games into the 2000/01 campaign, young Adam never played for the club again.

Hartlepool (Nialle Rodney)

By Jordan Richardson (@JordRich97)

Signed by Colin Cooper in the summer of 2013 after a successful trial, Rodney became a laughing stock with his tall and skinny frame.  

Tactically inept, he could never carry the ball far without falling over, although he did score a cracking overhead kick against former club Bradford in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Rodney had come through Nottingham Forest’s academy system but managed only 32 league appearances at eight clubs in his four professional seasons before joining Hartlepool.

We really should have known, but still handed him a one-year contract... which he couldn’t see out. After being released in March 2014, Rodney quit football to concentrate on his clothing business. Fair enough, really.  

Huddersfield (Kwami Hodouto)

By Greg Marah (@HTAFCPodcast)

Ask Huddersfield fans who Hodouto is, and most won’t remember. Those that do will have nothing good to say about a player who managed just one start and two brief substitute appearances for the club.

The Togo-born defender joined Huddersfield from Auxerre in the summer of 1999 and endured an iffy debut after coming on in a 1-0 win over Norwich. His first start came against Fulham, when the right-back looked like someone who’d won a competition to play in a professional match for the first time. He was duly hooked after half an hour, replaced by fellow flop Giorgios Donis.

While many Town fans look back at the 1999/2000 campaign and the sale of Marcus Stewart as a missed opportunity, that season also serves as a reminder of how woeful Steve Bruce was in the transfer market. Almost as woeful as Houdoto was at football, in fact, and he seemingly vanished after the Fulham game.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Hull (David Jones)

By Rick Skelton (@HullCityLive)

Lanky (alleged) striker Jones was one of Terry Dolan’s many free ‘gambles’. He had a decent pedigree having started his career at Chelsea, and had also scored quite a few goals for Doncaster before joining Hull.

But for a big guy he was completely useless with his head, while he moved with the ball at his feet like a newborn foal taking its first steps. His dozen or so appearances in 1992/93 were summed up by a fantastic miss at home to Port Vale: the opposition goalkeeper gifted him the ball with an abysmal kick, and he returned it with the force and precision of a Sinclair C5.

Almost a decade later, we signed a past-it Kevin Francis, who was in the autumn of his career. Despite his advancing years, though, Big Kev’s touch, movement and finishing put Jones to shame.

Ipswich (Nathan Ellington)

By George Pennell (@georgepennell90)

After much deliberation, this must go to the once-prolific Ellington. ‘The Duke’, as he was known by many in the football world, was signed by one of the worst managers in our history in Paul Jewell (but we’ll save that for another time).

Ellington joined in the summer of 2011 on a free transfer after his contract at Watford had expired, linking up with Jewell for a third time in his career – but his stay didn’t last the length of his contract.

During his first year at Portman Road, the striker made 17 appearances and notched a whirlwind total of zero goals. He didn’t fare much better in his second season, making a further two appearances before having his contract terminated in January 2013, six months before it was due to expire.  

Leeds (Paul Rachubka)

By Dan Howard (@RITGK)

We’ve been blessed with some fantastic players at Elland Road down the years – yes, even post-Premier League relegation – but nobody needs reminding of the shockers too. But while obvious names like Thomas Brolin and Roque Junior spring to mind from the past, one name stands out to me – and that’s Rachubka.

Signed by Simon Grayson to provide competition in 2011/12, his big chance came when No.1 Andy Lonergan picked up an injury. It became clear that Rachubka was likely to get a run in the side, and while no one was expecting Buffon-like performances, they weren’t quite anticipating what was to come.

First came a late error in the 1-1 home draw with Coventry, followed by another shoddy performance in the last-minute victory over Peterborough. But then the game he’ll always be remembered for: a 5-0 drubbing at home to Blackpool, where three errors in the first 30 minutes led to the ultimate humiliation for a goalkeeper – a substitution at half-time.

He didn’t turn out for Leeds again in a competitive match, as Grayson signed Alex McCarthy on a short, successful loan. Instead, Rachubka was packed off on three loans himself before being released at the end of two of the most unsuccessful seasons at a club you’re ever likely to see.

Leicester (Junior Lewis)

By James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd)

Such is the volume of dross that made its way through Leicester’s doors from c.2001-08, you could easily compile a full starting XI of worst players, a cramped substitutes’ bench and a queue of rubbish pros outside the manager’s office confused by their omission from such a side.

There is, however, one man who stands tall in the quagmire when fans consider the worst player ever to wear the fox on his chest. The mere mention of Junior Lewis’s name is enough to bring most Leicester supporters out in hives, thanks to his dismal 30 appearances for the club between 2001 and 2004.

City boss Peter Taylor bought the lanky midfielder from Gillingham – the third of six (six) times Taylor would sign him during his career – for £150,000. Even that would prove extortionate.

Lewis had the incredible ability of being 6ft 2in standing height, and 5ft 8in when jumping. To his credit, the uncultured central midfielder had one half-decent game in a Premier League victory over Liverpool, but other than that he looked more like a player who fans genuinely thought they were better than.

Unsurprisingly, he eventually left on a free transfer. Even more unsurprisingly, it was then-Hull manager Taylor who snapped him up.

Accrington-Barnet • Barnsley-Blackpool • Bolton-Brentford • Brighton-Burnley • Burton-Cardiff • Carlisle-Cheltenham • Chesterfield-Crawley • Crewe-Doncaster • Everton-Fulham • Gillingham-Huddersfield • Hull-Leicester • Leyton Orient-Man City • Man United-Millwall • MK Dons-Newport • Northampton-Notts County • Oldham-Plymouth • Portsmouth-QPR • Reading-Scunthorpe • Sheffield United-Southampton • Southend-Sunderland • Swansea-Walsall • Watford-Wigan • Wolves-Yeovil

Leyton Orient (Peter Smith)

By Mat Roper (@Pandamonium1881 fanzine)

Defender or defensive midfielder Smith played a total of eight games for the O's, in which time a grand total of 22 goals were conceded. It was perhaps no surprise, then, that Orient won three and drew one of the six matches in which he was an unused substitute.

Smith, a youth product (we'd have been better off with an embryo) couldn't run, pass, dribble, defend or score, although he did take a decent throw-in. You’re guaranteed to face some stiff competition in deciding Orient’s worst ever player, but Smith didn’t just take the biscuit – he took the whole pack.

Suffice to say, his last game in an O's shirt away to Cardiff ended in a 2-0 defeat, and he was left out of the final-day relegation decider in which the O's did enough to survive in Division Three.

Smith also had one of the most common names in the country. Combined with his footballing skills, he simply wasn't good enough.

Liverpool (Sean Dundee)

By Chris McLoughlin (@TheKopMagazine)

Pound for pounnull

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