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Features

The Numbers Game: Newcastle United

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

As we get into the outer reaches of AFC Bournemouth's history of squad numbers, we've now reached the 40s and with them a cult hero, a returning hero and a penalty shootout hero from earlier this season.

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 continues a series which was featured in MATCHDAY, the club's programme, during the 2019/20 season – and will be concluded across the remaining home games.

40

While the 'squad number era' began in 1999 for Football League clubs, it was not until 12 years later that Bournemouth first issued a number in the 40s – and it was to defender STEPHANE ZUBAR (25 appearances at 40), who joined in September 2011 following a successful trial spell, having left financially stricken Plymouth.

Earlier that year, he had appeared internationally for Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory which is not recognised by Fifa (and thus ineligible to appear in World Cups), but appears in competitions organised by Concacaf (the North American and Caribbean confederation).

Zubar, who briefly became something of a cult hero at Dean Court (with “Zubar, Zubar, give us a wave” T-shirts produced), dropped the zero from his number in the summer of 2012, taking number four.

That November, striker BRETT PITMAN (28 appearances) made a welcome return on loan from Bristol City, before sealing a permanent switch in January 2013. Pitman fired 19 goals in 2012-13, scoring in each of a club record eight successive wins in the spring as promotion was secured with a game to spare.

Having previously worn 26 and nine for Bournemouth, Pitman was on the move again in the summer of 2013 – wearing ten for two seasons in the Championship, the last of his four Cherries numbers.

Number 40 was next used by reserve left-back OLLIE HARFIELD, who was an unused substitute against Preston in the League Cup in September 2016, also featuring in Warren Cummings’ testimonial against AC Milan earlier that month.

Harfield did not make a competitive appearance for Bournemouth, and was loaned to Poole Town and Boreham Wood before joining Dagenham & Redbridge in 2018. He is now at Weymouth alongside several ex-Cherries (including Zubar) and various Bournemouth loanees.

The number has since been allocated to young goalkeeper WILL DENNIS, who was on the bench for the Carabao Cup defeat at Burton last September.

41

An oddity of the 2011/12 season was that the number of substitutes named in Football League matches was reduced from seven to five (a move reversed for 2012/13), but seven subs could still be nominated in League Cup and FA Cup ties.

So, young defender LEWIS LINDSAY was an unused substitute, wearing 41, for both FA Cup ties against Gillingham in November 2011, but never made the first team again and was released in 2014, joining Poole Town.

The number remained unused for three years until January 2015 when goalkeeper RYAN ALLSOP returned from a half-season loan spell at Coventry City.

Allsop, who had previously worn 21 and one, had joined the Sky Blues as part of the deal which took Callum Wilson in the opposite direction.

Allsop, now third-choice behind Artur Boruc and Lee Camp, was on the bench wearing 41 at Leeds in January 2015, and for the Championship title-winning game at Charlton on the final day of the season.

Following promotion to the Premier League, Allsop came full circle as he returned to his first Cherries number, 21, which he had first worn in 2013.

No player has worn 41 in a first-team game since 2015 – and it remains the lowest number in which no Bournemouth player has made a competitive first-team appearance.

42

Northern Ireland international goalkeeper LEE CAMP (34 appearances) was handed number 42 when he joined on loan from West Bromwich Albion in October 2013.

He then made the move permanent in January 2014, leaving the Baggies without playing a first-team game for them, and was elevated to the number one shirt in the summer of 2014 as befitting his status as Cherries’ first-choice 'keeper.

Young central defender JACK SIMPSON (4 appearances) took the number in 2015, and was one of a number of development squad players involved in the first team’s FA Cup ties in that debut Premier League season. Simpson was an unused substitute in a fourth-round tie at Portsmouth in January 2016, and again at Millwall in the third round a year later.

However, he had to wait until October 2017 for his first-team debut, scoring in a 3-1 League Cup fourth-round win over Middlesbrough, having warmed the bench in the previous two rounds. A Premier League debut came at Manchester City that December, and Weymouth-born Simpson was then “promoted” to number 25 in the summer of 2018.

That left the number free for its current occupant, goalkeeper MARK TRAVERS (2 appearances), who sat on the bench for five cup ties before his memorable first-team debut at home to Tottenham in the final home game of the 2018/19 season.

43

At time of writing, thanks to Camp, Simpson and Travers, 42 is the highest number a Bournemouth player has worn to start a league game – but by contrast, 43 is the lowest number never to have been used in a matchday squad for a league match.

Home-produced defender CALLUM BUCKLEY was an unused substitute wearing 43 in a League Cup tie at Preston in September 2015, while he also made the bench in the same competition the following season for games against Morecambe and Preston.

Released by the Cherries in 2017 without making his first-team bow, Buckley joined Weymouth where he spent two-and-a-half years before leaving the Terras in December 2019.

His replacement at 43 was midfielder MATT WORTHINGTON, who had made his Premier League debut as a substitute at Leicester on the final day of 2016/17, setting a new landmark by wearing 58.

But having been 'promoted' to 43 in the summer of 2017, he spent much of the next 18 months out on loan at Yeovil and Forest Green, eventually joining the Glovers permanently in January 2019.

The shirt has remained vacant since then.

44

Young striker SAM SURRIDGE (2 appearances) made the Bournemouth first-team bench for the first time in September 2015, in the same League Cup tie at Preston as Buckley (see above).

After loan spells at Weymouth and Poole Town, he made the Premier League bench for the first time on the final day of the 2016/17 season at Leicester alongside Worthington (see above).

Surridge then spent the entire 2017/18 campaign on loan at Yeovil in League Two, returning to the division for the first half of 2018/19 with Oldham before being recalled by the Cherries at the halfway mark and making a couple of Premier League substitute appearances at Arsenal and Crystal Palace.

He then joined Swansea on a temporary basis for the first half of 2019/20 and earned England Under-21 recognition before returning to Bournemouth once again.

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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