IT is 14 long years ago that he emerged as the villain of the piece in the eyes of Sheffield United supporters. On Saturday, still playing at 38, Gareth Ainsworth pops up again.
It was back in November 1997 that Blades favourite Dane Whitehouse suffered a serious knee ligament injury which was to end his career.
The tackle in which the injury was inflicted came from Ainsworth, then at Port Vale, and there were a lot of complaints at the time over the challenge.
In subsequent times, Ainsworth has taken plenty of ‘stick’ from the fans whenever he has come up against the Blades.
On Saturday, United break new ground when they make a first-ever visit to Wycombe’s Adams Park.
Skipper Ainsworth - who signed a one-year contract in May - aimed to rally the newly-promoted Chairboys yesterday by urging his side to start strongly and “get in teams’ faces.”
Wycombe, promoted from League Two last season, have lost their last five league games and haven’t scored in any of them.
“We know we can cause upsets and we’ve got players who can spark games,” he said.
Clearly the veteran winger, a key player in their promotion last season, is looking to try and give a boost to his side which has slipped to third from bottom after last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Tranmere.
Saturday represents the 100th game in charge for manager Gary Waddock and the current spell represents the leanest of his managerial career which had previously involved taking Aldershot to promotion.
United boss Danny Wilson, who will identify Saturday as a potential banana skin, was delighted with the way his players shrugged off the first defeat of the season to Huddersfield.
He backed the players to have the strength of character to bounce back against Colchester and they did that.
Now, he will insist on the same standards with, in view of Wycombe’s current run, not a hint of complacency.