Revealed! YOUR club's Cult Hero – as voted for by the fans
Cardiff: Kevin McNaughton
Steve Davies-Evans (@The_Real_SDE)
It's not often a player will be offered the wives of every fan on the terraces repeatedly
“At Cardiff, for every Robin Friday there's an Eddie Johnson; for every Graham Kavanagh a Jorn Schwinkendorf (seriously, Google him). But when all's said and done, there's only one cult hero who stands out: Mr Kevin McNaughton.
“Not too many Bluebirds knew about Kev before he joined in 2006, but in nine years and 254 lung-busting displays, McNaughton’s a name will always be held dear. A never-say-die attitude, coupled with the bravest of brave hearts, ‘Super Kev’ endeared himself to the Cardiff faithful instantly. (After all, it's not often a player will be offered the wives of every fan on the terraces repeatedly.)
“McNaughton played every game as if he was born at Ninian Park itself, and that's always going to go down well.”
Favourite moment: “The image of him being held aloft the night we finally reached the Premier League is one that will live on forever in all Cardiff fans’ hearts.”
Carlisle: Dean Walling
Lee Rooney (@leerooney)
“When Walling arrived at Brunton Park as a 22-year-old in the early ‘90s after spells in Canada and non-league football, he was a forward with a not-particularly-impressive goalscoring record.
Any corner won by the Blues that season was met by cries of "Deano! Deano!" – and with good reason
“By the time he left to join Lincoln in 1997, he was an imposing centre-back with a handy knack of scoring goals from corners. He'd become such a huge fans’ favourite that there was an uproar when he was allowed to leave by then-chairman Michael Knighton (yes, he of ex-Manchester United infamy).
“Player of the season in the 1994/95 Third Division title success, any corner won by the Blues that season was met by cries of "Deano! Deano!". And with good reason too: he grabbed nine goals in all competitions that season.
“His whole-hearted displays and love for the club (he still refers to Carlisle as "we" in his occasionally radio commentary appearances) are why he's still fondly remembered almost 20 years since he left.”
Favourite moment: “Stepping up to score from the spot in the penalty shootout of the 1997 Auto Windscreens Shield final win over Colchester United at Wembley. We won it 4-3.”
Charlton: Yann Kermorgant
Matias Grez (@matias_grez)
"'Quality is expected, effort is demanded'. Those are the words every player reads in The Valley tunnel before making their way onto the pitch – and no player embodied the phrase more than Kermorgant.
The Frenchman was also capable of producing moments of individual genius – often several times a match
“A brute of a striker able to withstand challenges from the Championship's most robust defenders, the Frenchman was also capable of producing moments of individual genius – often several times a match. Yet he was the first player sold under the current unpopular owner, leaving fans wondering what could have been had the striker remained at the club to spearhead the team’s attack.
“Rarely has a player enjoyed such a unique and personal relationship with the fans, and Kermorgant’s popularity hadn’t waned three months later on his first return to the club as a Bournemouth player – the whole stadium stood up in unison to sing ‘We all dream of a team of Kermorgants’.”
Favourite moment: “On the final day of the 2011/12 season, with promotion to the Championship already secured, Hartlepool threatened to spoil the party atmosphere at The Valley by going 1-0 up, before goals from Danny Hollands and Danny Haynes put Charlton ahead. Then up stepped Kermorgant with an audacious far-post scissor-kick lob to seal the win and a record 101 points tally.”
Chelsea: Gianfranco Zola
It’s almost unheard of these days that a Chelsea player would be universally liked but his attitude and infectious smile made Zola special
“Chelsea were nothing special back in 1996, but were at the beginning of a glorious 20-year period. Zola, a £4.5m signing of Ruud Gullit’s, was immediately involved en route to winning the FA Cup for the first time in 26 years.
“He was voted FWA Player of the Year despite having only joined in November, and went on to score the winning goal in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final against Stuttgart in 1998. Tying Julian Dicks up in knots was another personal highlight.
“Simply, he gave us unprecedented quality. It’s almost unheard of these days that a Chelsea player would be universally liked but his attitude and infectious smile made Zola special and different to most modern day footballers.”
Favourite moment: “Turning Jamie Carragher inside out and leaving him on his backside, beating another two Liverpool players in the process.”
Chesterfield: Jack Lester
Lesley Brentnall (@Lesley_CFC)
There was a cheeky side to his game, and he knew how to frustrate opposing defenders to turn that to his advantage
“I can still remember the day Lester signed for us in the summer of 2007. It felt surreal at first” as a fan base we had adored his career from afar watching him forge local success with Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United.
“Jack quickly became a cult hero, and his ability to seek out a pass and create goals out of nowhere were a pleasure to watch. There was a cheeky side to his game, and he knew how to frustrate opposing defenders to turn that to his advantage.
“His most spectacular performance featured a hat-trick against Stockport on New Year’s Day 2011. Even when he retired at the age of 37 he could still pose a threat to any team in this division!”
Colchester: Roy McDonough
(Forward, 1981-83 and 1990-94)
Jon Waldron (@JonWaldron1)
“For Colchester United fans of a certain age, McDonough’s name instantly conjures up images of bravado, goals galore and non-league success – but mostly, red cards.
The big forward would be worshipped from the Barside at Layer Road during his two spells there – and then in Colchester High Street on a Saturday night when the beer was flowing
“There aren’t too many players who are adored by supporters of the U’s and Southend alike, but hard man Big Roy is up there in the folklore of both Essex clubs. What you saw was what you got with him – both on and off the pitch.
“The big forward would be worshipped from the Barside at Layer Road during his two spells there in the eighties and early nineties – and then in Colchester High Street on a Saturday night when the beer was flowing.
“Roy’s cult hero status among most Colchester fans was cemented when, as their player-manager and spearhead, he led them to a glorious non-league double in 1992. But it wasn’t merely the success he enjoyed as the U’s player and boss – it was the way he did it.”
Favourite moment: “Helping Colchester win the Conference title on the final day of the 1991/92 season. The U’s went into the final day level on points with Wycombe Wanderers and duly thrashed Barrow 5-0 to claim the Championship (with RM getting one of them). It cemented McDonough’s status as more than just a hard man.”
Coventry: Brian Kilcline
Neil Allison (@skybluesblog)
“FA Cup-winning captain Kilcline is the only Sky Blue to back up an iconic persona with tangible success, making him a god among Coventry fans.
His reputation as the ultimate unconventional hero remains secure, and is one he continues to revel in
“Kilcline was a rugged and unconventional personality on the pitch, and that character shows no sign of restraint during retirement. Now 53, the evolution of his moustache into a seemingly never-ending beard means he resemble a wackier conjuring of Tolkien’s imagination with every passing year. His most recent appearance came at the 2016 Legends Day which he attended in clothing more akin to a pirate, and yet it all felt perfectly normal.
“As he strode onto the pitch with the FA Cup aloft, it was clear that this man is very different to the ex-pros surrounding him. His reputation as the ultimate unconventional hero remains secure, and is one he continues to revel in.”
Favourite moment: “The 1987 FA Cup victory is the only moment of magic for an obscene proportion of Coventry fans, with Kilcline the embodiment of our grit and determination that day. But he didn’t actually finish the game.
“A clash with Gary Mabbutt in the second half left Kilcline struggling, and he was replaced a minute before the end of full-time by Graham Rodger. Ironically it was Mabbutt who later intervened to give Coventry victory, and Kilcline his big moment. No injury was going to prevent him leading his team-mates up the Wembley steps, though, and as he kissed the famous trophy and let out a snarly roar, it’s that moment which to this day remains both his, and Coventry City’s, crowning footballing glory.”
Crawley Town: Sergio Torres
Carol Bates (@CarolBates)
“It's a talking point that could go on forever, but the majority of Crawley fans would agree that our cult hero would be Argentine Torres. He joined us from Peterborough in 2010 when we were in the Conference, and over the next four years became a real fans’ favourite.
Sergio moved to non-league Whitehawk in 2014, but often returns to help the Crawley Town Supporters Alliance with community work
“Sergio moved to non-league Whitehawk (where he resides today) when his contract wasn’t renewed in 2014, but has still remained in contact with supporters and often returns to help the Crawley Town Supporters Alliance with community work.
“Torres was also known for being everywhere on the pitch (and had a song which said as much), always giving 100% and he always had time for the fans. A true cult hero indeed.
Favourite moment: “Sergio will be best remembered for his injury-time winner which knocked Derby out of the FA Cup in 2011. That Monday evening on January 10 will forever be etched in the memories of all Crawley fans.”
Crewe Alexandra: Rodney Jack
Matt Withers (@mattwithers)
“There was a frisson of excitement at Gresty Road in July 1998 when Jack arrived from Torquay for a record £650,000. He was a full international. For Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, yes. But a full international.
Living locally and always willing to pose for photos in pre-selfie days, he went on to play for local team Nantwich Town and was last seen plying his trade in Iceland. Not the country
“Jack soon ingratiated himself with the fans. An explosive, unpredictable player who played comfortably on either flank with a smile on his face, he hit both goals in a 2-0 debut win over Oldham and went on to form a good understanding with fellow favourite Colin Little. Leaving after five years for Rushden & Diamonds, he returned in 2006 for another, less fruitful season.
“But it was off the pitch where he became a cult hero. Living locally and always willing to pose for photos in pre-selfie days, he went on to play for local team Nantwich Town and was last seen plying his trade in Iceland. Not the country. The Crewe branch.”
Favourite moment: “On Sam Allardyce’s debut as Bolton manager in October 1999, Jack sprinted half the length of the field, cut inside two defenders and scored from fully 30 yards.”
Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni
Jack Pierce (@FYPFanzine)
“When a long-haired Argentine made his Palace debut at Carrow Road in August 2004, few would have thought Julian Speroni would become the Selhurst Park favourite he is.
A season-defining save against rivals Brighton during the second leg of the 2013 Play-Off Semi-Final ranks as perhaps his greatest moment
“Having initially lost his place to the pyjama-wearing Gabor Kiraly, Speroni had to wait nearly three seasons before regaining his place at the start of the 2007/08 season. From there, he barely missed a game for eight seasons.
“A four-time winner of the club’s player-of-the-year award with 386 appearances for the Eagles behind him, there are plenty of reasons why Palace fans have labelled his mitts the manos de dios. That’s the ‘hands of god’, of course.”
Favourite moment: ”A season-defining save against rivals Brighton during the second leg of the 2013 Play-Off Semi-Final ranks as perhaps his greatest moment in a Palace shirt. Glancing Ashley Barnes’ effort onto the bar provided the platform for Wilfried Zaha to inspire Palace to a memorable win.”
Speroni’s save at 1:30