ADVENT CALENDAR | Wrexham AFC's number 14s

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Fri 14 Dec 2018

Already in place in the top flight, squad numbers were introduced into the English Football League ahead of the 1999/2000 season – making this the 20th season of Wrexham squad numbers since.

Some names and numbers will be permanently linked in Wrexham fans’ minds: “Ugarte 30”, “Edwards 7”, “Sam 23”, “Ferguson 10” … the list goes on, right up until “Carrington 13” in the current squad.

But what is the story behind each of Wrexham’s squad numbers? And who have the current crop of players got to live up to?

14 – Robin, Robbie and Ruthers

Current (and longest)- Paul Rutherford

Paul Rutherford signed for Wrexham from Southport ahead of the 2016-17 season in a summer of change under manager Gary Mills.

The Wirral-born winger, who turned professional further up the A483 in 2005, took the number 14 jersey and has played more than 100 times in it since.

Ruthers scored twice from the wing in his each of his first two seasons, making 82 league appearances in total, while he marked his 99th league appearance by setting up two goals in Wrexham’s 3-1 defeat of Gateshead this season.

League appearance number 100 as a Dragon arrived in the 1-1 draw at Maidstone, while the 31-year-old has found himself deployed at the tip of the midfield diamond since interim manager Graham Barrow took charge.

Rutherford, who also made more than 100 appearances for Barrow and Southport, is the only Wrexham player to have worn the number 14 jersey in three seasons, overtaking two other former wingers in the process.

Robin Gibson had previously worn 14 for two seasons between 2000 and 2002 – though he was number 25 when he scored in the cup upset against Middlesbrough in 1999.

After Gibson departed, full-back/winger Paul Edwards then held the jersey for two seasons, playing regularly in the 2002/03 promotion campaign.

Steve Tomassen is the only other former Wrexham player to wear 14 for more than one season – indeed, he was the Dragons’ number 14 at Wembley in 2015 when he missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out defeat to North Ferriby United.

Paul Rutherford Moving Forward

First- Deryn Brace

If Tomassen’s Wrexham career is defined by one error, namely his penalty miss, then another former Wrexham number 14 will be able to empathise.

It was three seasons before squad numbers were introduced that Welsh full-back Deryn Brace’s mix-up with Andy Marriott allowed Chris Beaumont to score the only goal of the game at Chesterfield in the 1997 FA Cup quarter-final.

Brace, who played at the Racecourse for three seasons either side, has plenty more on his Wrexham CV, building a good rapport with fans during his six years at the club.

Brace was capped at under-21 level by Wales but missed out on a full international cap due to illness – having missed several months of action when he contracted pneumonia.

He took the number 14 jersey when squad numbers were introduced in 1999, having become a valuable member of the squad thanks to his ability to play at either right-back or left-back.

Nevertheless, having generally played second fiddle to Mark McGregor and Phil Hardy throughout his time with Brian Flynn’s side, Brace was released in 2000.

He made eight league appearances in the number 14 jersey, out of 89 in the league in total for the club before seeing out his career in the Welsh Premier League.

Promotion heroes and cup-final kings

As Dennis Smith rebuilt the Wrexham squad in 2002, Paul Edwards took over the number 14 jersey in the Third Division and played 38 times during the promotion campaign – scoring four goals.

Edwards rejected a new contract ahead of the 2004/05 season, joining Blackpool instead, and the jersey was vacant when the Dragons travelled to the Millennium Stadium for the LDV Vans Trophy final.

Eight years later, for the FA Trophy final win against Grimsby, Joe Clarke – who had scored in the third and fourth rounds – was Wrexham’s number 14 at Wembley, replacing goalscorer Kevin Thornton late in normal time.

Wrexham’s Number 14s

1999-2000: Deryn Brace (7 league apps/0 goals)
2000-2002: Robin Gibson (46 apps/1 goal)
2002-2004: Paul Edwards (79 apps/4 goals)
2005-2006: Robbie Foy (17 apps/3 goals)
2006: Matt Derbyshire (16 apps/10 goals)
2006-2007: Simon Spender (25 apps/2 goals)
2007-2008: Eifion Williams (13 apps/1 goal)
2008-2009: Tom Kearney (15 apps/1 goal)
2009-2010: Nathan Fairhurst (8 apps/0 goals)
2010-2011: Christian Smith (6 apps/3 goals)
2011: Gareth Taylor (1 app/0 goals)
2011-2012: Leon Clowes (1 app/0 goals)
2012-2013: Joe Clarke (34 apps/4 goals)
2013-2015: Steve Tomassen (50 apps/1 goal)
2015-2016: Kayden Jackson (36 apps/4 goals)
2016-: Paul Rutherford (102 apps/4 goals)*
+Stats only include league matches played in the specified jersey, does not include play-offs
*Up to 14/12/2018

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