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The Football League's longest-serving players

Increasingly in the modern game, it doesn’t take much to convince a player to switch sides.

A big bonus here, an extra few grand on the salary there, and suddenly your top scorer is talking about joining a club who “match my own ambitions”.

Yet for all the cutthroats and mercenaries, there is still a place for loyalty, still room for the old fashioned one-club man.

So here, without further ado, we pay tribute to the Football League’s stalwarts – the men who have spent the longest time at a single club in the Football League.

Aaron Webster – Burton Albion (Time at club: 13 years, 3 months)

When Nigel Clough arrived at Burton as player manager in 1999, Webster was a shy, lanky 18-year-old fresh out of the club’s youth team.

But in the ensuing 10 years, Webster would be as important to Burton’s fairytale rise as Clough himself, playing left back, left wing, attacking midfield and centre forward as the Brewers were eventually promoted to the Football League in 2009.

An inconsistent first season had some doubting whether he could cut it at the higher level, but last term’s tally of 11 goals in 42 games was his best ever campaign. Now 30, he has 77 goals in 443 appearances for Burton.

Kevin O’Connor – Brentford (12 years, 3 months)

Like Webster, versatility has been the key to O’Connor’s staying power. A striker when he signed professional terms in 1999, he has since played right-wing, right-back, central midfield and defence, and even had a stint at left-back. Now 29, the set-piece specialist is fourth on Brentford’s all-time appearance list with 468 games and has played over 30 matches in each of the past nine seasons. Relentless.

Alan Dunne – Millwall (11 years, 3 months)

Few can doubt that Dunne has been a slow burner. Having emerged from the youth team in 2000, a string of bad injuries meant it would be four years before the Irishman established himself in the side.

However, once ensconced, Dunne has been impossible to shift. Fast and energetic with an eye for the spectacular (he spent time as a left winger), he was voted the fans’ player of the season in 2009-10 and followed that up with 38 appearances last term, taking his tally for the club to 236.

Nick Montgomery – Sheffield United (11 years, 3 months)

A Leeds fan as a kid, Montgomery actually rejected a switch to Elland Road in the summer of 2010 to stay with United, ensuring hero status. Part of the side that won promotion to the Premier League in 2006, he won plenty of plaudits in the top flight for his ability to break up play in front of the back four and, though 29, remains a class act.

Championship – longest serving players

Alan Dunne, Millwall – 11 years, 3 months
Lloyd Doyley, Watford – 10 years, 3 months
Adam El-Abd, Brighton – 9 years, 3 months

League One

Kevin O’Connor, Brentford – 12 years, 3 months
Nick Montgomery, Sheffield United – 11 years, 3 months
Kemal Izzet, Colchester – 10 years, 7 months

League Two

Aaron Webster, Burton – 13 years, 3 months
Andrew Proctor, Accrington – 9 years, 8 months
David Bird, Cheltenham – 9 years, 3 months

By Chris Dunlavy, The Football League Paper

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