ADVENT CALENDAR | Wrexham AFC's Number 17s

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Mon 17 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?

Number 17 – Cult heroes and super-subs

Current- Nicky Deverdics

Nicky Deverdics joined Wrexham in the latter part of last season but, having originally been number 11, moved to the number 17 in the summer.

The Newcastle-born playmaker, 31, has enjoyed a varied career to date, including two stints in Iceland, Football League appearances with Barnet and Hartlepool and a variety of non-league clubs.

While not number 17 at the time, Deverdics’ first Wrexham goal was a memorable one – sealing the 2-0 win against Chester last season – but opportunities have been limited since.

Having started the season injured, Deverdics has found playing time restricted in the first part of the 2018/19 campaign.

First- Stephen Roberts

Stephen Roberts wore the number four jersey for three seasons and was number 15 for two campaigns too, but when squad numbers were introduced he was actually assigned 17.

One number up from brother Neil, Stephen had made his Wrexham debut in the Football League Trophy the previous year – playing the last 22 minutes of a 2-1 win at Hull, in which his brother scored both goals.

He featured much more regularly in the following campaign, playing 22 times in all and scoring his first Wrexham goal in the FA Cup win against Kettering, before starting the giantkilling of Middlesbrough later in the competition.

Roberts went on to make 150 appearances for Wrexham and earned one Welsh cap, before joining Doncaster Rovers and later Walsall until a persistent back injury forced his early retirement.

Longest- Mark Jones

Like the Roberts brothers, Mark Jones is another Wrexham-born product of the club’s academy who went on to play for Wales, and he spent three seasons as the Dragons’ number 17.

The central midfielder wore four squad numbers in all, across his two spells with the club, but it was the 17 jersey who wore for longest, between 2003 and 2006.

Jones had made his debut in the promotion campaign the previous year and began to earn more playing time from 2003 onwards – scoring his first Wrexham goal in that first season as number 17.

He became more and more important to Wrexham, including featuring regularly in the successful 2005 LDV Vans Trophy campaign.

And, in the third of his three seasons in the jersey, he scored 15 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions – his best season in both regards with the club, which earned that first Wales call-up later in 2006.

Jones moved to number eight for his final two years, making 149 appearances in all and scoring 27 goals before leaving to join Rochdale.

He spent a single season in the North West before returning to the Racecourse for one more year, after which he moved into the Welsh Premier League.

Embed from Getty Images

Promotion heroes and cup final kings

While there were former and future Wrexham number 17’s in the squad at the time, it was not a jersey worn often during the 2002/03 promotion campaign.

In fact, player-assistant manager Kevin Russell’s 53 minutes as Wrexham’s number 17 in the first game of the season was the sum total of action the jersey saw.

Mark Jones had taken the squad number by the time Wrexham reached the Millennium Stadium in the LDV Vans Trophy in 2005. Jones played a key part in reaching the final and played the first 100 minutes in the middle in Cardiff.

He is the only Wrexham player to wear 17 in a major cup final, with cult hero Glen Little having been an unused sub for the 2013 FA Trophy final and teenage midfielder Ross Weaver being out on loan at the time of the Wembley trip two years later.

Wrexham AFC’s number 17s

1999-2000: Stephen Roberts (19 league apps/0 goals)
2000-2002: Andy Morrell (44 apps/5 goals)
2002-2003: Kevin Russell (1 app/0 goals)
2003-2006: Mark Jones (81 apps/17 goals)
2006-2008: Josh Johnson (29 apps/1 goal)
2008-2009: Simon Spender (13 apps/0 goals)
2009-2011: Adrian Cieslewicz (40 apps/2 goals)
2011-2013: Glen Little (35 apps/1 goal)
2013-2014: Leon Clowes (15 apps/2 goals)
2014-2015: Ross Weaver (0 apps)
2015: Adam Smith (12 apps/1 goal)
2016: Ryan O’Reilly (1 app/0 goals)
2016-2017: Callum Powell (24 apps/2 goals)
2017-2018: Christian Dibble (5 apps/0 goals)
2018-: Nicky Deverdics (7 apps/0 goals)*
+Only includes league appearances in the specific jersey, does not include play-offs
*Up to 17/12/2018

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