Greatest Centre-Backs: 10-6

THE Greatest Pilgrims, voted for by the Green Army, lists the top 25 Argyle legends in all positions and after completing the goalkeepers and full-backs, we move on to the centre-backs.

Greatest Pilgrim Centre-Backs
Ranked No.10
Gerry McElhinney

A leader, warrior and great Pilgrim, Gerry McElhinney can be summed up by his appropriate nickname of Rambo.

A fabulous sportsman, Gerry was a champion amateur boxer and played Gaelic football in his native Ulster before opting for a career in association football. His performances in Northern Irish football earned him a move to Celtic in Scotland.

Opportunities were limited with the Glasgow giants and he moved to Bolton Wanderers, where the robust approach of McElhinney defending made a huge impression. He won six caps for Northern Ireland and played in a memorable win over West Germany.

He moved to Home Park in 1985 and was quickly installed as captain, leading the Pilgrims to promotion under Dave Smith. He was completely fearless and Rambo would literally put his body on the line for the cause.

After 107 appearances, Rambo moved on to Peterborough and starts the top ten in the list of greatest Pilgrim centre-backs.

Greatest Pilgrim Centre-Backs
Ranked No.9
Nicky Marker

The story of a Devon boy done very good, Nicky Marker is one of a rare breed to be a legend at both Argyle and our local rivals of Exeter City. Even more rare, his form for both Devon clubs proved the platform for Marker to become a Premier League winner.

Comfortable in midfield or defence, Marker was a star at Exeter when he was controversially signed by Argyle in 1987. Any hesitation from the Green Army in having a Grecian among their ranks was quickly forgotten as Marker turned in countless excellent displays in the Green shirt.

As well as a top player, Marker was an extremely popular character around the club and one of the best performers in an Argyle side struggling against relegation in the late 1980s.

Marker had caught the attention of Blackburn Rovers and left in a player-exchange deal that also bolstered the Home Park coffers by £500,000. Marker was in the Blackburn squad that won the Premier League but then left for Sheffield United.

This great Pilgrim returned to non-league football in Devon and spent many years as manager of Ivybridge Town.

Greatest Pilgrim Centre-Backs
Ranked No.8
Curtis Nelson

Curtis Nelson is the prime example of a young player who grabbed his first-team chance with both hands and refused to let go over the course of six seasons.

After being released by Stoke City as a junior, Nelson joined the Argyle Academy and quickly impressed manager Peter Reid with his performances for the reserves, earning a full debut as a 17 year-old in 2010.

Curtis was predominantly a defender but could also play in midfield, and displayed fantastic maturity and physical strength for such a young player. He was one of the brightest Argyle stars through the years of financial turmoil and was even called up to the England Under-18 squad.

It is a measure of his influence that Curtis became the youngest Pilgrim captain since Norman Piper in 1967 and won the Young Player of the Season in 2013-14. He continued to produce excellent displays in defence as Argyle reached the play-offs in two consecutive seasons.

After 246 appearances for Argyle, Curtis moved to Oxford and was quickly appointed captain. He moved to Cardiff City in the summer of 2019.

Greatest Pilgrim Centre-Backs
Ranked No.7
Marcel Seip

During his five years as a Pilgrim, Marcel Seip could occasionally be a controversial figure but he was undoubtedly a top class centre-back.

The Dutchman played in the UEFA Cup for Heerenveen and also won a cap for the Netherlands Under-21 side before moving to Argyle in 2006, quickly earning a long-term contract under manager Ian Holloway.

Seip was not the biggest defender but fiercely determined, quick over the ground and a superb reader of the game. He became one of the most difficult defenders to play against in Argyle’s Championship years.

Unfortunately, he fell out with new boss Paul Sturrock and was placed on the transfer list, courting further controversy when he scored against parent-club Argyle during a loan spell at Blackpool. Seip came back into the fold under Peter Reid and made a total 148 appearances for the Pilgrims.

He departed for Bradford in 2011 and later played in Australia and back in his native Holland.

Greatest Pilgrim Centre-Backs
Ranked No.6
Mick Heathcote

A colossal defender and inspirational captain, Mick Heathcote was the rock upon which a great Argyle side was built.

Heathcote came through the ranks at Sunderland but, with first-team opportunities limited, he moved to Shrewsbury in 1990 and then Cambridge a year later. After four solid seasons at the Abbey Stadium, he was signed to Argyle by new manager Neil Warnock.

It was the perfect fit and Heathcote was the skipper in Argyle’s promotion season through the Third Division play-offs. He twice won Player of the Season and was loved by the Green Army for his total commitment to the cause.

Injuries began to plague Heathcote as the Paul Sturrock era began and he opted for a move back to Shrewsbury, later drifting into the non-league scene. Mick Heathcote is number six in your list of greatest Pilgrim centre-backs.

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Greatest Centre-Back Results So Far
6. Mick Heathcote
7. Marcel Seip
8. Curtis Nelson   
9. Nicky Marker
10. Gerry McElhinney
11. Mark Smith
12. Mike Green   
13. John Newman
14. Hasney Aljofree
15. Chris Harrison
16. John Williams
17. Bobby Saxton
18. Mathias Doumbe
19. Andy Morrison
20. Kari Arnason
21.Peter Hartley
22. Adam Barrett
23. Darren Purse
24. Forbes Phillipson-Masters
25. Neil Hague

Greatest Full-Back Results
1. Paul Connolly
2. Gordon Nisbet
3. Tony Capaldi
4. Gary Sawyer
5. Mark Patterson
6. David Worrell
7. Paul Williams
8. Gary Poole
9. Colin Sullivan
10. Peter Gilbert
11. Moses Russell
12. Onismor Bhasera
13. Leigh Cooper
14. John Hore
15. Marc Edworthy
16. Lee Hodges
17. Brian McGlinchey
18. Dave Provan
19. Phil Burrows
20. Jon Beswetherick
21. John Uzzell
22. Tony Book
23. Septimus Atterbury
24. Pat Jones
25. Wayne O’Sullivan

Greatest Goalkeeper Results
1. Romain Larrieu
2. Luke McCormick
3. Jim Furnell
4. Alan Nicholls
5. Geoff Crudgington
6. Bill Shortt
7. Alan Miller
8. Steve Cherry
9. Peter Shilton
10. Rhys Wilmot
11. Dave MacLaren
12. Fred Craig
13. Pat Dunne
14. Remi Matthews
15. Milija Aleksic
16. Jon Sheffield
17. Paul Barron
18. Martin Hodge
19. Bruce Grobbelaar
20. Geoff Barnsley
21. Harry Cann
22. John Willie Sutcliffe
23. David Stockdale
24. Bill Harper
25. Neil Ramsbottom