We are delighted to announce the launch of the Barnsley Football Club Alumni.
1,376 players, across 5,668 competitive games, representing our Club over three separate centuries - each individual will now be referred to by a unique heritage/legacy number, to form part of the Barnsley Football Club Alumni.
Every footballer to represent the Club since our first competitive fixture back in 1888 has been given their own idiomatic number. From Jack 'Flick' Beevers at #1 right through to Amine Bassi at #1376.
A project that has been years in the making, but only thoroughly set in motion over the last six months is another important reminder of our history as a Club. Founded 135 years ago this coming September, this Club is the heartbeat of its town and alongside the Hall of Fame that was established in 2018, the Alumni helps us to remember all that has gone before us, whilst serving to educate those who follow us into the future.
Chief Executive Officer, Khaled El-Ahmad gave this project the green light upon his arrival, citing the need to honour our past and the individuals who have helped shaped the Club since its inception back in 1887.
He said: "I am very humbled by the history and heritage of our Club, and whilst we are custodians right now of a footballing institution, we must always remember those who came before us.
"To be able to move forward into the future, you must reflect upon your past. And there is a rich history here at Barnsley Football Club. We have been represented by some of the game's greats over 135 years of football.
"It is an honour to launch this project, and I look forward to meeting a number of special guests at our next home game, members of the Alumni who will be presented with a bespoke gift on behalf of the Club.
"I must also praise the team working alongside me who've brought this project to life over the last six months, in particular, David Wood our Club Historian.
"The work must have been enormous but we feel it's been worth the wait."
We aren't the first football club to launch such an initiative, and the awarding of legacy or heritage numbers is something that the sport of cricket originally made famous. Our Yorkshire neighbours Bradford City and the England football team have gone down a similar path in recent years.
And like them, Barnsley FC plan to carry our Alumni numbers on the shirts of our current first team players.
Andrew Clark, our Marketing, Commercial & Business Director said: "Making sure we connect the present day to our rich history is vital, and I'm proud of the work that my team has done with this project.
"We've over a dozen members of the Alumni visiting us in hospitality next weekend when we entertain Reading at Oakwell and I'm sure the fans will be happy to see some familiar faces before kick-off."
One of the most important members of the team in delivering this project was David Wood, our Club Historian who spent an amazing amount of time doing the necessary research.
"I first broached the subject of heritage numbers way back in 2011. But the extensive work needed to get it started meant that it never really got off the ground at that stage.
"A few years ago, prior to the launch of the Hall of Fame, it was again suggested as a future project. And then in 2019, Bradford City became the first club in world football to acknowledge their players in such a way.
"So it's something I've personally been preparing for a while now. And then last Autumn, the Club got in touch with me and it was something that Khaled El-Ahmad was very keen on establishing, but in the form of an Alumni.
"The numbering of the shirts might not please the kit men, I'm sure! But the history of our Club is very important, and to create what is a very exclusive club like this, 1,376 individuals, I think it's great.
"It's a special touch too, to invite some of our biggest legends to the game next weekend. It should be a wonderful occasion."
That's right. When the Reds entertain Reading at Oakwell on Saturday 2 April in a 3pm kick-off we are going to be joined by a number of our Alumni.
Some of the very best men to have played for Barnsley will be our guests of honour and supporters will be able to give them one more round of applause prior to kick-off against the Royals.
To see the Barnsley FC Alumni in full, please click the link below.