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Early on in the Premier League and quite probably before, I grew attached to the idea of squad numbers. There was something about knowing that Rob Jones was Liverpool’s number two, always, no matter if he was in the team or not, just as Ian Wright was number eight, Jason Dozzell number twelve and Andy Sinton fifteen. Nowadays, of course (and I blame Gianluca Pagliuca for this) squad numbers can be anything (and, indeed, expect posts in future indicating this) but this is an introduction to the ‘art’ of them; a base from which all other posts will be extracted, and its something I quite enjoy, so expect a few over the course of time.

There is just a graph and a few quirks to tell today, however. The graph is one showing complete number of starts, shirt number by shirt number, across every team in the Premier League in 1994/95 – all 10164 starts that there were. On the graph, there’s only one issue that needs explaining – obviously, 13 was under-used because most teams had it as their reserve keeper, because of 13 being ‘unlucky’, it was seldom used, excepting Tottenham, where Ian Walker wore 13 – not Erik Thorstvedt in 1, and Sheffield Wednesday, where Kevin Pressman wore 13, and Chris Woods 1.

fir9495137.jpgWho Is Missing?
I expected all teams to be basically 1-11, but there were certain numbers in the first XI that were never used. Here they are in full. 3 – Liverpool (previously Julian Dicks), Wimbledon (Brian McAllister). 5 – Wimbledon (Dean Blackwell)
6 – Sheffield Wednesday (Brian Linighan)
7 – Manchester City (David Rocastle)
8 – Liverpool (Paul Walsh – unused)

What’s Going On At The End?
Wimbledon embraced the shirt numbers concept early, giving significant run outs to 35 (Oyvind Leonhardsen), 36 (Jon Goodman) and 37 (Kenny Cunningham); Norwich’s Simon Tracey (34) is the next highest.

Some Shirt Number Analysis?


Here’s the average starting shirt number for the season, club by club. As you’ll be aware, 1-11 would be 5.5, so all these are in comparison to that. The numbers aren’t particularly high yet, but there’s only five remaining under 10 at this early stage. Oh, enjoy the Frank Clark effect at Forest.