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Features

The Numbers Game: Crystal Palace

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

It’s been 20 years since squad numbers became compulsory in the Football League, Mark Mitchener takes a look at the players, the stats and some unusual tales from the past two decades.

This article continues a series which was featured in MATCHDAY, the club's programme, with the next installment to come ahead of the Cherries' home match with Newcastle United.

36

Much-travelled striker STEVE CLARIDGE saw his Football League career come full circle after rejoining Bournemouth on a month’s contract in December 2006. Having made his League debut for the Cherries in 1984, Claridge returned to Dean Court having played 999 professional games for 18 different clubs. Game 1,000 duly arrived as Claridge started a home game against Port Vale wearing number 36 (four short of his age, 40), but was substituted after less than an hour as Vale won 4-0.

Claridge did not play for the Cherries again, or at League level, but continued in non-League football – and more than a decade later, while managing Salisbury, played in an FA Cup tie aged 51!

In January 2007, Bournemouth hastily arranged a mid-season friendly against Everton on the FA Cup fourth round weekend. Steve Fletcher’s second-half strike was cancelled out by an equaliser from Icelandic midfielder BJARNI VIDARSSON, who then joined the Cherries on a month’s loan in February. He made six appearances in Claridge’s old shirt, scoring in a 2-1 win at Oldham.

The third number 36 of 2006/07 was on-loan Plymouth midfielder LUKE SUMMERFIELD (8 appearances), who had come through Argyle’s youth ranks a couple of years ahead of Dan Gosling.

While Summerfield’s father Kevin had scored at Dean Court for Shrewsbury in November 1990, Luke’s only Cherries goal came on the final day of that season in a 2-1 defeat at Port Vale.

The following season, left-back SCOTT GOLBOURNE (8 appearances) was the fourth of a quartet of Reading players who joined Bournemouth on loan in the autumn of 2007, but returned at the turn of the year.

Number 36 remained vacant for three seasons before Poole-born midfielder JOSH CARMICHAEL (4 appearances) made his debut as a 16-year-old under Lee Bradbury in September 2011. He featured three more times the following season under Bradbury’s successor Paul Groves and caretaker boss Dennis Rofe. The last of those came at Coventry in October 2012, and he was loaned to Gosport Borough, Welling and Torquay before being released in 2016, joining Gosport permanently.

Arsenal utility man NICO YENNARIS joined Bournemouth on loan as injury cover in November 2013 and wore 36 three times as an unused substitute, but failed to make a first-team appearance. He returned to Arsenal, soon joining Brentford, and last year moved to Chinese side Beijing Guoan.

Despite playing for England up to Under-19 level, he is eligible for China through his mother, and became the first foreign-born naturalised player to be called up for China’s national side, playing under the name Li Ke.

Youth product MATT BUTCHER (2 appearances) debuted as a substitute in a League Cup tie at Hartlepool In August 2015, and started at left-back in that season’s FA Cup win at Birmingham. After loan spells at Gosport, Poole Town, Woking and Yeovil, he recently joined St Johnstone on loan after a long injury lay-off.

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Former Aston Villa midfielder MICHAEL STANDING joined Bournemouth on non-contract terms in March 2009 after a short spell at Chesterfield. He came on as a substitute for David McGoldrick in the 71st minute of a 3-1 defeat at Northampton, but it was the only time he featured in a Cherries first-team squad and he dropped into non-League football with Oxford United the following season.

The next number 37 on the Cherries bench was Liechtenstein international goalkeeper BENJAMIN BUCHEL, who signed from USV Eschen/Mauren in his homeland following a successful trial in August 2012 and was an unused substitute on five occasions over the next three seasons. He was loaned to Dorchester Town, Poole, Havant & Waterlooville and Welling, and was released in 2015, joining Oxford.

Italy Under-20 left-back FILIPPO COSTA joined on loan from Chievo just after promotion to the Premier League in 2015, and was an unused substitute in the League Cup at Hartlepool in that game where Matt Butcher debuted (see above). He returned to his parent club in December because of an injury crisis at Chievo. He is currently on Napoli’s books, and is on a two-year loan at Bari.

Defender COREY JORDAN then wore 37 as an unused substitute on the final day of Bournemouth’s inaugural Premier League season at Manchester United (the game abandoned because of a bomb scare, and restaged two days later).

He made his first-team debut aged 17 later that year, coming on as a substitute in extra time during a League Cup tie against Preston. Following major knee surgery, the Bournemouth-born centre-back had a loan spell at Eastbourne last season, and has captained the Under-21 side during this campaign.

In fact, 37 is the lowest number in which no Bournemouth player has ever scored a goal – or been booked.

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Middlesbrough midfielder JOSH WALKER (6 appearances) joined Bournemouth on the same day as Michael Standing (see above), debuting in the same game and spending a month on loan at Dean Court before returning to Teesside. Like current Cherries midfielder Lewis Cook, he captained England at an Under-20 World Cup – in 2009.

Number 38 remained unused for four seasons until youth team striker ALEX MOTH was an unused substitute in a 1-0 defeat at Bury in April 2012. Despite being handed a professional deal that summer, he did not make the first team again.

Instead, fellow youth team graduate JOSH WAKEFIELD wore 38 during the 2012/13 season in which he made two substitute appearances, having been number 39 (see below) during the previous campaign. After half-a-dozen loan spells in non-League football, the midfielder did not appear on the Cherries first-team bench again until 2016, by which time he was wearing 48.

Central defender BAILY CARGILL (11 appearances) was offered professional terms in 2013, and after loan spells at AFC Totton, Welling and Torquay, his first-team bow came in 2014/15 when he became a regular starter in cup competitions. As well as making the bench for several Championship fixtures, he was capped by England Under-20s, scoring on his debut against Canada at Dean Court.

After further loans at Coventry and Gillingham, he finally made his Cherries league debut as a substitute at Manchester United in March 2017, becoming the club’s first academy graduate to play in the Premier League. However, that landmark appearance proved to be his last in a Bournemouth shirt, as he was loaned to Fleetwood and Partick Thistle in 2017/18 before being released and joining Milton Keynes Dons.

Midfielder NNAMDI OFOBORH was ‘promoted’ to 38 from number 59 before the start of this season, which he has spent on loan at Wycombe.

39

Having retired from playing on multiple occasions, assistant manager JASON TINDALL was an unused substitute for the final time, wearing 39, in an FA Cup tie at Notts County in December 2010 – his previously-held number 31 having gone to goalkeeper Jon Stewart.

Teenage midfielder JOSH WAKEFIELD made two substitute appearances towards the end of 2011/12, before moving up one number to 38 (see above).

Young goalkeeper CHAD COLLINS then sat on the bench four times early in the 2012/13 season as cover for Shwan Jalal when regular back-up Darryl Flahavan was not available, but like Benjamin Buchel (see above), never made a first-team appearance.

Youth defender JAKE McCARTHY was then twice an unused substitute in League Cup ties in 2014/15. Although that was the nearest he got to a competitive outing before moving to Weymouth in 2017, he did feature in Warren Cummings’ testimonial against AC Milan in 2016, wearing 49.

Unless stated, all statistics relate to the ‘squad number era’ since 1999, and are correct as of the end of the 2018/19 season.

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