This week we concluded our social media tournament to find the most popular United player of all-time.

Initially we asked fans to nominate their five favourite United players. A total of 53 CUFC players were nominated via emails from members, and social media contributions from the wider fanbase. The list of nominations is below:

23 nominations – Michael Bridges
13 – Dean Walling
12 – Keiren Westwood
10 – Kevin Gray
9 – Chris Balderstone, Matt Jansen, Peter Beardsley
8 – Peter Murphy, Stephane Pounewatchy
7 – Zigor Aranalde
6 – Stan Bowles
5 – David Reeves, Francois Zoko, Rod Thomas
4 – Nicky Adams
3 – Allan Ross, Bryan Pop Robson, Darren Edmondson, Hugh McIlmoyle, Jabo Ibehre, Joe Garner, Simon Hackney
2 – Brendan McGill, Danny Graham, Ian Bishop, Jamie Devitt, John Halpin, Paul Thirlwell
1 – Ben Marshall, Bob Hatton, Bobby Parker, Chris Billy, Dave McKellar, Frank Barton, Frank Clarke, George McVitie, Ian Stevens, John Gorman, Keith Walwyn, Lee Miller, Mark Bridge-Wilkinson, Matty Robson, Nigel Saddington, Paul Proudlock, Russell Coughlin, Scott Dobie, Stan Ternent, Steve Hayward, Tommy Murray, Tony Caig, Tony Gallimore, Warren Aspinall, Willie Carlin

All players receiving two or more nominations were automatically put through to the tournament. A poll of CUOSC board members then added Bobby Parker, John Gorman, Steve Hayward and Willie Carlin from those players on one nomination. The 32 qualifying players were divided into four pots, based on numbers of nominations, and a player drawn from each pot to make up eight groups of four. The format for the 2018 World Cup in Russia was used throughout the tournament.

Eight twitter polls decided the eight groups, which reduced the field of 32 down to 16, as follows:

Matt Jansen 48.5%
Allan Ross 23.1
Danny Graham 19.4
John Gorman 9.0

Zigor Aranalde 40.7
Dean Walling 38.5
Pop Robson 11.9
Ian Bishop 8.9

Keiren Westwood 60.6
Nicky Adams 16.5
Steve Hayward 14.7
Joe Garner 8.3

Peter Murphy 65.2
Rod Thomas 19.3
Willie Carlin 10.4
Brendan McGill 5.2

Hugh McIlmoyle 39.3
Stephane Pounewatchy 31.6
Peter Beardsley 28.2
Bobby Parker 0.9

Kevin Gray 47.2
Jabo Ibehre 23.3
Stan Bowles 21.5
Jamie Devitt 8.0

Michael Bridges 66.5
Francois Zoko 15.8
John Halpin 12.2
Darren Edmondson 5.4

Chris Balderstone 43.3
David Reeves 34.0
Paul Thirlwell 12.1
Simon Hackney 10.6

Michael Bridges, who had led the nominations table, was top of the group qualifiers in percentage terms, followed closely by Peter Murphy, which was to prove a good indicator of who would ultimately feature in the final.

Thus the remaining players contested the Round of 16, which consisted, like the group stage, of two twitter polls held each day, with the polls remaining open for about 11 hours each.

Keiren Westwood 88.3%-11.7% Rod Thomas
Matt Jansen 57.8-42.2 Dean Walling
Peter Murphy 85.8-14.2 Nicky Adams
Zigor Aranalde 58.4-41.6 Allan Ross
Hugh McIlmoyle 68.8-31.2 Jabo Ibehre
Michael Bridges 90.1-9.9 David Reeves
Kevin Gray 63.6-36.4 Stephane Pounewatchy
Chris Balderstone 61.4-38.6 Francois Zoko

Bridges again with the highest winning percentage, which was undoubtedly influenced by his intervention on twitter (when he was already well ahead, we should add). The quarter-finals were staged, two a day, and gave the following results:

Westwood 61.0-39.0 Jansen
McIlmoyle 43.7-56.3 Bridges
Gray 56.6-43.4 Balderstone
Murphy 84.7-15.3 Aranalde

So four members of our 2005-06 championship winning team made up the semi-final line-up. One semi was contested per day, with the results:

Westwood 39.2-60.8 Bridges
Gray 18.2-81.8 Murphy

It was a Bridges-Murphy final, as some had predicted, and a battle for the minor honours between our top keeper of recent memory and toughest defender.

Westwood 66.0-34.0 Gray

Bridges 44.3-55.7 Murphy

As you can see, the final turned out to be the closest of the knockout matches, but Murphy had a clear edge, winning 102 votes to 81. In total, 3,883 votes were cast in the tournament, not far off our average home attendance for this season! We do hope the tournament kept you all entertained during the COVID-19 lockdown, and we have more online events planned, including our Facebook Live pub quiz, ‘Be Just and Quiz On’, coming up on Monday, April 13th at 8pm.