WHEN it comes to digits on the back of the Cork City players’ shirts, it’s all about Ringing the right number.
Strictly speaking, shirt numbers are just for identification purposes, there to assist the fans and the ghastly media in identifying the players.
However, they can mean far more than that to the players, with superstition often playing a role. For an example, look no further than City manager John Caulfield – despite spending almost all of his career with the club as a striker, he wore 11, which is traditionally more associated with a left winger.
As well as the myriad duties involved in making sure that the kit is properly laundered and prepared for each game, it falls to City’s kit man Mick Ring – in conjunction with Caulfield – to assign the club’s squad numbers.
“When the players come in, I ask them what their preferences are, based on what’s free,” Ring says.
“Then I draft something up and send it to John for approval.” With a heavy turnover of players since the end of last season, there has been scope for some ‘tidying things up’. The departures of Greg Bolger and Stephen Dooley meant that numbers 6 and 11 fell vacant, and both have been filled with internal solutions.
Gearóid Morrissey wore 6 during his first spell with the club, but when he returned the number was occupied by Dan Murray, so the midfielder took 16.
Now, the new vice-captain is back in 6, set to line up alongside skipper Conor McCormack, who wears 8. The number 11 has gone to Kieran Sadlier, wore 15 after his arrival from Sligo Rovers.
Three of the new signings have been given 1-11 numbers. Aaron Barry will wear 5, partly as a tribute to the late Ryan McBride, with whom he played with at Derry City. Both of the other numbers have come available due to the incumbents going out on loan. The temporary departures of John Kavanagh (2) and Achille Campion (9) have seen their numbers given to Danny Kane and Graham Cummins respectively.
Kane can play across the back four and in midfield, so the number 2 may be seen in positions other than right-back, where it would normally be expected to be seen, but Cummins is a perfect fit for 9.
In fact, one could say that nobody has really done the centre-forward’s number justice since Cummins left at the end of 2011, having scored the goal against Shelbourne to clinch the first division. Davin O’Neill, Daryl Kavanagh, Anthony Elding, John O’Flynn, Danny Morrissey and Campion have all played with 9 on their backs with varying success, but none of them for more than a season and a half.
While it is Kane who has been given 2, two other new additions wore the number for their clubs last season, Colm Horgan at Galway United and Tobi Adebayo Rowling for Sligo Rovers.
Horgan’s brother Daryl wore 23 when he played for the Rebel Army, but, fittingly, he has been given the number 22 worn by another right-back with the same surname, Neal.
Adebayo Rowling will wear 14, while goalkeeper Peter Cherrie has been given 13, which has often lain idle since City first used squad numbers in 2003, and Barry McNamee is number 25.
The highest number in the first-team squad is the 29 worn by Seán McLoughlin. The defender had worn 24 in the pre-season friendlies – with the Seán Maguire scoring touch rubbing off – but that was due to the set of kit used only going from 1-26, as it will be used by the U19 team.
While Ring does his best to accede to players’ requests, he does draw the line at things like a striker asking for number 3.
“No, that wouldn’t happen!” he laughs, “nothing higher than 50, either!”