In the same way that St Andrews holds a special place in the hearts of those who love golf, the announcement of the Sheffield Wednesday squad numbers should be a reverential annual occasion.
On August 25, 1928, the Owls were one of four teams to wear numbers, the first time they were seen in English football, while they also hold the honour of being there at the birth of domestic squad numbers in 1993. Imagine, then, the horror of seeing the list released by Wednesday for the 2016-17 season:
Without any details other than numbers and names attached, the initial horror may not be apparent, apart from only six numbers less than or equal to 11 being occupied. Here, then, are the main takeaways:
- Number 2, Joe Wildsmith, is a goalkeeper. He was 28 last season and Liam Palmer – who has played at right-back – has moved from 2 to 16 to accommodate this. We’ve mentioned before that we don’t like the practice.
- Sam Hutchinson has moved from 4 to 23.
- Attacking midfielder Kieran Lee will wear 5, having previously been 20. Centre-back Glenn Loovens has swapped 5 for 12.
- New signing Steven Fletcher – a centre-forward – will wear 6. He has form for disrespecting numbers, having switched from 9 to 26 at the start of last season when he was at Sunderland.
- Another new signing, attacking midfielder Almen Abdi, has been given 8. We’re not sure how such an example of normality crept in there.
- The former owner of 8, Filipe Melo, has gone to 22, while Marco Matias is trying to become three times the player he was, transferring from 7 to 21.
- Austrian striker Atdhe Nuhiu was 9 last season, but will now don number 44.
- Lucas Joao has moved from 18….to 19.
Thankfully, Wednesday fans didn’t take too kindly to this whole farrago.
— Barry McCarthy (@BarryMc1984) August 3, 2016
@swfc What the actual FUCK!?
— Lee Hicklin (@KivoLee) August 3, 2016
— Eddie Battye (@Eddie_Battye) August 3, 2016
Update: Sam Hutchinson confirmed in an interview in November that Wednesday’s owner Dejphon Chansiri chose the numbers, trying to harness good luck.