ADVENT CALENDAR | Wrexham AFC's Number 18s

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Tue 18 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 18 – A home-grown club stalwart and the current clean sheet king

Current- Rob Lainton

Rob Lainton signed on loan from Port Vale in the summer to compete with Christian Dibble in goal, and was handed the number 18 jersey – Dibbs having already been promoted to number one.

It is Ashton-born Lainton – a product of Bolton’s youth academy – who has established himself as first choice between the sticks, however.

Lainton saved a penalty on his debut against Dover, keeping the first of 13 league clean sheets in the first half of the season.

Having made his move permanent in November, Lainton – at the time of writing – tops the National League list for clean sheets this season and has conceded just 14 times in 23 league games.

Throw in four clean sheets in five FA Cup matches too, and it has been a great start to his Wrexham career.

Rob Lainton

First- Danny Williams

Wrexham-born midfielder Danny Williams started the first of two stints with Wrexham during the 1998-99 season, signing from Liverpool – where he had come from the academy – in March of that campaign.

Williams claimed the number 18 jersey when squad numbers were introduced the following season, making his debut and going to feature in 24 league games in his first full campaign.

He scored his first Wrexham goal in the FA Cup win against Kettering and added a second in a 4-3 win at Cambridge – where he opened the scoring.

Williams switched to number 16 the following season but, after finding himself on the fringes of the first team, was released in the summer.

After a spell with Kidderminster Harriers, Williams returned to his hometown team in 2004, however, going on to make more than 120 more league appearances.

Longest- Shaun Pejic

Shaun Pejic followed in his father’s footsteps when he made his Wrexham debut, having come through the club’s ranks.

With Mel still a physio at the club, having played at the Racecourse in the early 1990s, Shaun Pejic made his Wrexham debut in 2001.

He wore number 30 at the time, and 31 the following season as he made 12 more league appearances for the club.

His breakthrough year was the 2002/03 promotion campaign in the Third Division, however, when he took the number 18 jersey and made 27 league appearances.

Pejic was a key member of the squad in 2005, scoring his first – and only – Wrexham goal in an LDV Vans Trophy win at Notts County early in the campaign.

He would later feature at the Millennium Stadium, replacing injured Stephen Roberts early in the game, as Wrexham claimed the trophy.

Pejic’s final season in the number 18 jersey was hampered by a cruciate injury early in the campaign but he fought back to earn a new deal with the club.

Pejic was handed the number six jersey the following season and struck up a useful defensive partnership with Steve Evans as Wrexham escaped relegation on the final day.

He featured more sporadically as Wrexham did go down the following season, however, and – after appearing just once in the National League he was released along with Evans in 2009.

Pejic finished that season at Wembley, however, with FA Trophy runners-up York City.

After failing to agree a new deal with the Minstermen, the former Wales under-21 international then played for Vancouver Whitecaps and Crystal Palace Baltimore.

A brief return to North Wales followed, before he went into the gaming industry as a FIFA Gameplay Producer for EA Sports.

Embed from Getty Images

Promotion heroes and cup final kings

Pej was Wrexham’s number 18 in both the 2002/03 promotion campaign, playing 27 times in that league season, and at the Millennium Stadium for the LDV Vans Trophy Final in 2005.

Pejic, who scored earlier in the competition against Notts County – his only Wrexham goal – was an early substitute at the back for injured Stephen Roberts.

He remains the only Wrexham player to wear 18 in a major English final, with Declan Walker not selected for the FA Trophy final in 2013 and Ross White likewise two years later.

Wrexham AFC’s number 18s

1999-2000: Danny Williams (24 league apps/1 goal)
2000-2001: Hector Sam (20 apps/6 goals)
2001-2002: David Warren (5 apps/0 goals)
2002-2006: Shaun Pejic (109 apps/0 goals)
2006: Jon Newby (11 apps/0 goals)
2007: Paul Mitchell (5 apps/0 goals)
2007: Michael Proctor (9 apps/2 goals)
2007-2008: Levi Mackin (9 apps/1 goal)
2008-2009: Michael Proctor (18 apps/1 goal)
2009-2010: Wes Baynes (36 apps/5 goals)
2010-2012: Jamie Tolley (57 apps/9 goals)
2012-2013: Declan Walker (21 apps/0 goals)
2013-2014: Jay Colbeck (1 app/0 goals)
2014-2016: Ross White (17 apps/1 goal)
2016-2017: Shaun Harrad (18 apps/2 goals)
2017: Ntumba Massanka (18 apps/4 goals)
2017-2018: Kevin Roberts (39 apps/0 goals)
2018-: Rob Lainton (23 apps)*
+Only includes league appearances in the specific jersey, does not include play-offs
*Up to 18/12/2018

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