Wes Daily Chief Football Writer, 9yrspodcast.org
No AFC Wimbledon player will ever wear the number 14 shirt again after the club announced they have retired the jersey.
Dons Chief Executive Derek Samuelsunderland confirmed the decision at a dinner with members of the club’s Stew & Mellow Club at the Stonecutter Lodge on Wednesday.
Wimbledon legends Will Antwi and Jesse Darko are amongst a host of big name players to have graced the shirt, and club officials felt that it would be unfair on any future incumbents to be compared to such luminaries.
“We’re very proud of the many greats that have worn the number 14 shirt for this club,” said Samuelsunderland during his keynote speech at the Stew & Mellow Club’s biannual soiree. “We felt it would be impossible for any future player to live up to the accomplishments and reputations of these elite.
“Derek Duncan and Lee Minshull were great servants for us and highlight the legacy of the jersey. Duncan’s pre-season form in 2009 was outstanding, whilst Minshull’s two goals for us in our Conference promotion year were vital – and his electric red card at Southport, six minutes into his debut, really is the stuff of legend.
“And no-one will ever forget Callum McNaughton’s great display away at Morecambe in 2012, when he marked Kevin Ellison out of the game for large spells. Ellison even admitted himself that it was the luckiest hat-trick he’d ever scored in his career.
“Therefore, we took the decision in the summer to officially retire the number 14 shirt, with a replica jersey to be displayed at all times in the Athletics Chempest End toilets.”
Many fans feel the shirt should have been retired after the departure of Antwi, saying the pressure of the jersey was beginning to come to the fore.
“Ade Azeez really struggled with the expectation,” said long-term fan Shirley Crabtree, a season-ticket holder in the Your John Smith’s Gas Travel Stand. “It affected his brain to the point that it didn’t even look like he was aware he was a footballer.”
There was an unfortunate incident during Samuelsunderland’s announcement however, when a female fan began heckling the Chief Executive, claiming she had seen a player wearing the number 14 shirt earlier this season, passing the ball forward during the classic 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth in September.
The woman, identified as Layla D. Wimbledon, had to be ejected by Wimbledon assistant manager Ruel Fox.
First-team manager Bill Hardley apologised for the interruption and claimed the woman must have been mistaken.
“I haven’t seen any player wearing the number 14 shirt this season, and anyway, I can assure you that no player of mine would dare be caught passing the ball forward,” he said.
One Stew & Mellow Club member, who wished to remain anonymous, branded the incident as scandalous, saying: “Who let a woman in here? Feminism is ruining this country.”
Attendees at the gala event were said to be delighted with their carvery dinner – served-up by Michelin-starred caterers Sketchy’s Diner – and end-of-the-night raffle, in which one lucky punter won two tickets to Wimbledon’s upcoming Chaka Khan Trophy match at Yeo Valley.