Keeping up appearances

Gary Teale: Made 51 appearances for Wednesday including 47 starts.   Picture: Steve Ellis
Gary Teale: Made 51 appearances for Wednesday including 47 starts. Picture: Steve Ellis

THE term ever-present used to figure often when clubs totted up their players’ appearances at the end of a season.

Two or three players at each club, sometimes more, might manage a little seasonal milestone which is still quite cherished amongst professionals in that they’d gone through a season and not missed a game.

John Oster: Top Rover

John Oster: Top Rover

More recently, it seems to have been goalkeepers who have managed not to miss a game and it appears to be harder nowadays for an outfield player to turn out in every game.

Amongst our six local professional clubs - who called up over 220 players for matchday duty - just three players had the distinction of playing in all the games and two of them were goalkeepers.

Barnsley’s Luke Steele and Chesterfield duo Tommy Lee and Danny Whitaker will always be known as ever-presents from the 2010/11 season.

Lee, named Player of the Year for the League Two champions, totted up a total of 51 appearances as their last line of defence in all competitions for the Spireites.

Ever-present: The No 10 of Danny Whittaker appeared in every competitive match of Chesterfield's super season

Ever-present: The No 10 of Danny Whittaker appeared in every competitive match of Chesterfield's super season

For the Reds, Steele donned the gloves in every game - a total of 48. Midfielder Whitaker figured in all the 51 competitive matches Chesterfield played last season although four of those appearances were when going on as a substitute.

A third goalkeeper was so close to joining that ever-present list.

Sheffield United’s Steve Simonsen had played in all their games - which included the rather unusual occurrence for a goalkeeper of going on twice as a substitute - when he was left out of the Blades’ final league game at Swansea so that youngster George Long could make his debut.

Two other players who topped or touched the 50 game mark were Wednesday’s Gary Teale and Rotherham United’s Nicky Law.

Nicky Law: Late absentee

Nicky Law: Late absentee

Teale made 51 appearances in all.

He actually made the same number of starts in league and cup matches - 47 - as goalkeeper Nicky Weaver but the Owls winger also went on as a sub four times.

Law reached the 50 mark for the Millers and would have figured in every game but for an ankle injury forcing him to sit out two matches at the end of the season.

The outfield players who played the most times for Sheffield United were Stephen Quinn (38) and Nick Montgomery (37).

Luke Steele: Ever-present

Luke Steele: Ever-present

At Oakwell, Jason Shackell was a regular name on the teamsheet and missed only two of Barnsley’s total of 48 games.

Leading the way at Doncaster Rovers was John Oster with 43 in all, one ahead of James Coppinger.

The consistency of selection that John Sheridan was able to achieve at Chesterfield is reflected in the fact that no fewer than seven players made 40 appearances or more.

Law’s 50 for Rotherham topped by just a solitary game the next-best which was by top scorer Adam Le Fondre.

Sheffield United called on the most number of players on a matchday - a total of 48 in all although some never got off the subs’ bench. In fact, 42 players actually made some form of an appearance for the Blades last season.

Doncaster also topped the 40 mark, calling on a total of 42 players to either play or be on the bench.

Tommy Lee: Last line

Tommy Lee: Last line

Barnsley called up 39, Wednesday and Rotherham 34 each and Chesterfield the fewest with 28.

Steve Simonsen: Left out of United's final game to give George Long his debut.            Picture: Steve Parkin

Steve Simonsen: Left out of United's final game to give George Long his debut. Picture: Steve Parkin