Numbers still count

Pedro Mendes in his favourite number 30 shirt

Pedro Mendes in his favourite number 30 shirt

Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

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The numbers were up for Pompey this week.

And for the most part, I was satisfied by their outcome.

Some of my colleagues suggest I am a bit sad with my fixation by which player wears what digit on their back.

They will argue that it doesn’t really matter these days. I think it stems from my own less-than-illustrious playing career.

I started wearing number 10 as a nine-year-old.

I stuck with it through thick and thin – when I played for teams where I had a say or I wasn’t sub.

Starting out as a striker, I moved further backwards in the team as the grey hairs on my head became more apparent.

Attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder, centre-back (although I only ever played in goal once when I was injured and we didn’t have a sub), I did the lot. But I still wore 10.

Even in my final season, playing as a sweeper with younger legs around me, I wouldn’t give up my favourite shirt.

That is until it was cut off me in A&E lying on a hospital bed with my arm hanging several inches longer than it should have been.

A rotund opponent had landed on me after I’d made a rare foray up for a corner and the awkward fall had dislocated my shoulder.

In a sling and unable to drive for six weeks, I decided that it was the end of my Sunday League career.

For now, at least.

I’ve still got that number 10 shirt somewhere as a painful reminder.

It looks like Robinson Crusoe’s cast-off. But it also serves as an illustration that some of us get attached to numbers.

And I’m not referring to Carol Vorderman.

When I was forced to wear a different shirt, on rare occasions when someone else had nicked it first and ignored me whining about it, I just never felt as comfortable.

I realise that it has no actual bearing on your performance. I was just odd that way. But I’m not alone.

Jed Wallace tweeted his delight at being given the number eight shirt for the new season after saying goodbye to number 35.

His suggestion was that he felt as if he was no longer a young lad making his debut with a high number on his back.

Right decision. He’s established himself so deserves a lower number now.

When you are signed after the start of the season, sometimes you don’t have a choice.

But, for example, it annoyed me that Pedro Mendes decided to stick with number 30, rather than take a more typical midfielder’s shirt in his second season.

It also troubled me that Glen Johnson wore number five – a centre-back’s shirt or at least a midfielder. What was wrong with the proper right-back shirt of number two, Glen?

Kanu? Why the fixation with 27?

Only Danny Hollands has mildly irritated me this season by sticking with 29 when he should have a much lower number on his back.

Tom Craddock has clung on to my favourite number 10, despite facing a lengthy road back to fitness, while David Connolly no longer is the number nine, with Ryan Taylor taking the traditional striker’s shirt.

Does anyone really care? I do.

But I’m a bit tragic like that.

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