ADVENT CALENDAR | Wrexham AFC's number 8s

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Sat 08 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?

8 – Local lads

Current- Luke Young

The other half of Wrexham’s all-Luke, all-Ivybridge-born, all-ex-Plymouth central midfield pairing, Luke Young signed from Torquay United in the summer – the first of former boss Sam Ricketts’ signings.

Young has paired up with Luke Summerfield in the middle of the park for the Dragons, offering plenty of pace and energy as well as scoring a couple of long-range screamers.

He opened his account for the club with a 25-yard effort against Dagenham and has now scored three in all competitions.

His first Racecourse then sealed a 2-0 win at home to Harrogate Town and a place in the FA Cup first round and he followed it up with a vicious, swerving screamer in front of the Kop to beat Hartlepool in the league.

Though frustrated by injury early in his Wrexham career, Young has now established himself in the middle and had made 20 league appearances by the start of December.

Luke Young celebrates at full-time

First- Kevin Russell

Former England under-18 international Kevin Russell was well into his second spell with the club when squad numbers were introduced in 1999.

“Rooster” had first played at the Racecourse in the late 1980s, scoring 43 goals in 84 league appearances and winning Player of the Year in both seasons to earn a transfer to second-division Leicester.

He did not settle with the Foxes and had become a bit of a journeyman by the time he rejoined Wrexham in 1995, where he would go on to earn a place in the club’s folkore.

Now playing in a deeper attacking midfield role and without the hair that earned his nickname, Russell scored the winner against West Ham in the 1996/97 FA Cup run and was a regular for Brian Flynn’s Division Two team.

He was handed the number eight jersey in 1999 and scored four goals in 33 league games, while the following year he netted in the FAW Premier Cup semi-finals as the Dragons won the trophy for a third time in four years.

He remained with the club as a player the following season, but wore number 12 and was number 17 by the time of his final Wrexham appearance – the first day of the 2002-03 campaign.

By now assistant manager to Denis Smith too, he was awarded a testimonial against Manchester United in 2005. Russell remained on the Wrexham coaching staff until 2007 and nowadays manages the Stoke City under-23 team.

Longest- Danny Williams

Wrexham-born former Liverpool youngster Danny Williams played for Wrexham in two spells, and it was during his second he was handed the number eight jersey.

Williams became Wrexham’s number eight for the 2004/05 season, replacing another Wrexham-born number eight – Lee Jones – in the jersey.

He would go on to make 126 league appearances over the next four seasons, scoring nine goals from central midfield.

His final year with the club was hampered by a back injury but he made his feelings clear when he became one of several experienced players released by Brian Little in the summer as the club dropped into non-league.

Describing himself as “really disappointed and a little bit angry”, Williams stated his belief he had deserved a new deal despite his injury-hit campaign after impressing in previous seasons.

The former Wales under-21 international did play for another league club, however – instead moving to Rhyl where he won the Welsh Premier League in 2009.

Williams remains the only Wrexham player to have worn the number eight jersey for four seasons, however – narrowly beating Jay Harris who, although he spent five years with the club, only wore number eight for three of those.

Promotion heroes and cup-final kings

Wrexham-born striker Lee Jones returned to the Racecourse for his second spell in 2002, playing mostly from the bench as he scored four goals in the Division Three promotion campaign.

Danny Williams, another Wrexham-born former Liverpool man, replaced Jones as number eight for the 2004/05 season and played in the LDV Vans Trophy Final win.

Williams, who scored earlier in the competition when Wrexham beat Stockport in the second round, replaced Mark Jones for the final 20 minutes of extra time

Another long-serving number eight, Jay Harris, played the full game as Wrexham won the FA Trophy in 2013, meanwhile – part of a midfield trio with captain Dean Keates and goalscorer Kevin Thornton.

Harris was still number eight when he scored at Wembley to put Wrexham 2-0 up against North Ferriby United two years later.

Wrexham’s Number 8s

Sam Wedgbury

1999-2001: Kevin Russell (59 league apps/8 goals)
2001-2002: Craig Faulconbridge (37 apps/13 goals)
2002-2004: Lee Jones (45 apps/9 goals)
2004-2008: Danny Williams (126 apps/9 goals)
2008-2009: Simon Brown (28 apps/4 goals)
2009-2010: Hedi Taboubi (11 apps/1 goal)
2010-2011: David Brown (9 apps/1 goal)
2011-2012: Lee Fowler (17 apps/2 goals)
2012-2015: Jay Harris (103 apps/9 goals)
2015-2016: Dominic Vose (28 apps/10 goals)
2016-2017: Khaellem Bailey-Nicolls (3 apps/0 goals)
2017-2018: Sam Wedgbury (41 apps/1 goal)
2018-: Luke Young (20 apps/2 goals)*
+Stats only include matches played in the specified jersey, does not include play-offs
*Up to 01/12/2018

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