It’s always frustrating when you have a clear memory of something, but can’t corroborate it.
I could recall reading a piece on the coming season’s squad numbers in Match magazine in August 1994 – it was probably the only reason I, a loyal Shoot! reader, bought it – and the stand-out information was that Neil Ruddock was to switch from number 25 to 6 at Liverpool with Robbie Fowler moving from 23 to 12.
Of course, neither of these things happened, leading me to slightly doubt my memory. Liverpool, and Manchester United, did tidy up their numbering in the summer of 1996, and a comment by Andrew Hoare at the bottom of that piece did at least convince me that I wasn’t crazy.
Even with Andrew backing up my recollections, proof had to be found. Step forward, Rob Stokes. He has already been a source of good nostalgia on my other blog, Museum of Jerseys, and he came up with the goods again here. As you can see from the August 20, 1994 issue of Match, there were four clubs listed per page.
Closer examination of the Liverpool section reveals that there were other proposed changes which I had forgotten – Jamie Redknapp was to move to 8, with Steve McManaman moving to 11. Countering the players moving downwards, Don Hutchison went from 6 to 20, Paul Stewart 8 to 15 (a direct swap with Redknapp) and Mark Waters 11 to 18.
In the wake of Bruce Grobbelaar’s depature, David James moved to 1 and Danish goalkeeper Michael Stensgaard took James’s 13. In addition, Stig Inge Bjornebye was to go from 20 to 17, Steve Harkness 22 to 19, Lee Jones 24 to 23 and Phil Charnock 18 to 24.
In the event, the only change which materialised was James’s. Did the club – either manager Roy Evans or someone else – decide against the switches or did the Premier League prevent them?
A possible theory here is that Liverpool had no new kits for the 94-95 season (how alien a concept that seems nowadays), and changing the numbers of such popular players would have put a lot of replicas out of date. I could be very wrong, of course.