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  16-Dec-2018 05:01 GMT  

A Bunch of Fives

So when all is said and done, we analyse where, when and the quantity of times a ball has landed in the back of a net, past and present, or failed to, and somehow deduce why it was destined to be so. That’s the unenviable task of our resident expert Professor Statto, who brings us the benefit of his incisive intellect allied to half a century of football scholarship. And not least, his wry sense of humour.您的瀏覽器可能無法支援顯示此圖片。

He leaves the predictions to others, but he’ll provide you with the ammunition to sustain your challenge through your Score Five campaign. He’ll keep you up-to-date with what’s happening in the competition. He’ll lead you along byways exploring weird and wonderful facets of the game past and present, but always in his own inimitable style.

Some comedian once suggested that “98% of all statistics are made up”, but the Prof. cordially invites you all to verify any information he presents – if only because he does most of the calculations in his head. Professor Statto and his amazing statistics.

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Visit the Prof's 2008/09 season archives.

Previous analysis

2011-12 Round 25-27.... 2011-12 Round 21-24.... 2011-12 Round 17-20.... 2011-12 Round 11-16.... 2011-12 Round 8-10.... 2011-12 Round 5-7

Hello again, pals, and welcome back!

I trust you've taken notice of the front-page alert from the ScoreFive Supremo about the unusual prediction deadlines for the forthcoming Rounds 32-33. About 50% of Scorefivers make their predictions in the 48 hours before each round's deadline, so if you're one of them and you missed the advice, I'll save you the trouble of paging back: as it's Easter, there are two rounds, and the predictions deadline for Round 32 is Friday April 6, 16.15 GMT. For Round 33, it's Monday April 9th at 14.45 GMT.

Easter week is traditionally the time when decisive steps occur at the top and bottom of the leagues. I think we've already passed the Prem tipping point, so I'm not taking much of a risk when I say the title will be staying at Old Trafford, and United's 20th will be confirmed at the Etihad on Apr. 30. At the bottom, we already know one team who are heading for pastures old – Wolves' decision to dump Mick McCarthy (or at least, not bring in a new face) now looks disastrous. Southampton are surely coming up to replace them, which will give a certain Supremo an excellent excuse to open a bottle of Burgundy in celebration. I wouldn't be surprised if he's already installed the Southampton Global Supporters League....

In the ScoreFive Global League, half a dozen names change in the Top 20 most weeks. Macca11644, Spieretti, Paddy Kerrigan and Nitin04it480 all jumped into contention after posting decent scores in Round 31. At the top, JoshTz is still hanging on, with Peevemeisters now his closest challenger. I reckon anyone in the Top 50 can still win it. With only a 10 point gap between #20 and #40, there's likely to be more changes after the double-round weekend.

In the early days of Scorefive when there were just a couple of hundred of us, I used to indulge my interest in Ye Olden Days by bringing you tales from football's rich and varied history. In the last two years, there's not been much time for that, but below, you'll find Part 2 of what I think is an inspirational story about one club's battle against all the odds. If you've any regard for tradition, I recommend you acquaint yourself with the original giant-killers, Darwen FC. It's Rich v Poor, Rulers v Ruled, Big v Small. The events also explain why English football has developed such a strong North v South rivalry.

Selective balance?
You may have seen reports or TV coverage of the punch-up that broke out at the end of the League 2 game between Bradford City and Crawley Town last week. It was a real hammer-and-tongs affair with at least a dozen slugging away. When players are nudged during a match, they regularly hit the ground writhing in agony – so how come not one fell over in a fight that resembled a saloon brawl scene in a comedy western?

Season Tracker
Here are the details of the last four rounds, the completed Round 26 update and the season to date averages. Season highs in any category have a yellow highlight and lows have blue

Round

Basic pts

+ Banker

Results

P5s

Bankers

Goals/games

Comments

26

18

22.19

51.80%

10.80%

83.70%

30 & 10

 

1 – 27 avge:

16.64

20.1

46.65%

10.00%

69.22%

Avge 2.84

 

28

17.83

22

43.50%

13.10%

84.40%

17 & 10

 

29

14.1

16.92

43.50%

9.70%

64.40%

24 & 9

AV-Bolton rescheduled for Apr. 24

30

16.39

19.96

46.70%

8.50%

71.60%

25 & 10

 

31

16.99

19.14

52.30%

10.70%

43.00%

37 & 10

 

1 – 31 avge:

16.65

20.09

46.78%

10.10%

69.01%

868 & 309 = Avge 2.81

Season avge score: 621 pts = global league #207

Round 26 update
After the delayed Liverpool-Everton game completed the round, Andyson4real2010 (Arsenal & Nigeria) took the top spot after a predictions-time countback because he got his in ahead of Supervlad (Man. Utd. & Ukraine). Both had finished with 33 pts and 3 Perfectos. In joint 3rd place with 32 pts were HokiunP (Spurs and Netherlands) and Titian (Liverpool & Argentina).

Round 28
There were eight home wins, but only five of them were your no. 1 prediction. Who were the three unfancied home teams that did better than expected? Everton, Sunderland and Swansea, against Spurs, Liverpool and Man. City respectively. Add Wigan's draw at Norwich, and the prospects for a good points haul weren't looking too bright. On the plus side, a healthy P5 percentage and Banker successes for Arsenal, Chelsea and Man. Utd redressed the balance.

Inspired Perfectos and unique Bankers were in short supply, but we had an enterprising pair who combined the roles for unlikely 10-pointers. All hail Youngem20, a first-timer here, for his (Everton), and Bolton loyalist BarclaysBank, who must have enjoyed his fistful even more. They share Tip Of The Week.

There was pandemonium on the top step of the leaders podium with five players tied on 31 pts! With three of them sharing four Perfectos, the earliest-entry tiebreaker came into play again, thus AdamOC (Everton & England) got his name on our Great Wall Of Fame, edging out JonnyCurmudgeon (no one & England) and AndyinHolland (Wolves & England) with Babson (Chelsea & Nigeria) and Red_I_am (Man. Utd & England) completing the picture.

Round 29
The postponement of the Aston Villa-Bolton game means we're going to be waiting a few weeks to discover the Round 29 winner. For the present, Scorefive's very own Nikita leads with 29 pts, hotly pursued by Aussie JohnMakris on 28. With 40 Bankers still to be decided, they have quite a list of challengers. A 1-1 draw would see Nikita stay top, 2-1 would put John in the winner's enclosure, but 2-0 would bring several outsiders into the frame.

In a round without many notable predictions, Ash2Ash deserves a mention as the only player who risked his Banker on Blackburn beating Sunderland. If that sounds daft, Ash would tell you he knew better than those who relied on Liverpool to win at QPR. Leigh05 stands out for his Wolves-Man. Utd. Perfecto, 0-5 naturally! Is that our Tip Of The Week? Probably, but let's wait and see if Fanen's 21-1 Villa Banker succeeds.

Round 30
It was looking like a week of slim pickings after the first nine games, with the average points standing at 14.11, but once the Monday night win by Banker favourites Man. Utd. was added, the picture was much brighter – by an average 5.85 pts per player! Two other teams carrying a bunch of your Bonus Five hopes came a cropper: Liverpool's latest home loss was a blow for 99% of you, though Jafri and Ken were on the Wigan bandwagon as it rolled on with a 1-2. Man. City's draw at Stoke was the other shock result.

Not many of you expected an Everton win at Swansea, where AndrewWelsh1958, NigelReidLUFC and Col Utd were the only players to bag a Perfecto. The 0-0 result at Chelsea was ideal for JuvlivYugoslavia and Josep while Mainaeri and Gaucin were the notable Banker performers, with their bets on Sunderland and Newcastle respectively. All things considered, I think Gaucin deserves Tip Of The Week, for disregarding all the recent Hodgson propaganda.

Amicii (Chelsea & Romania) was the round's top player, one point clear of NigelBall (No one & England) after picking up 8 pts from Man. Utd's Monday night win, to finish on 34 pts. Sharing third place were TomTrotter, Tubby and AndrewWelsh1958, all with 30 pts.

Round 31
In a season where the home wins percentage has been unexpectedly low, this batch of fixtures went some way to redressing the balance, with seven home wins and nine of the hosts scoring two or more. Apart from two of the bottom feeders, 20-home-wins-in-a-row Man. City were the others who failed. Only a dozen of you dared to back the draw – none the 3-3 – but even less foresaw Arsenal's humbling at relegation-threatened Queen's Park Rangers.

These two combined to sink the majority of your Bankers, which made me wonder – what's the collective noun for Bankers? Google and the Urban Dictionary provided the answer. I should have guessed – it's a wunch!

Of those who stayed afloat, I must mention BarclaysBank and Bryal 51, who picked up 10 pts apiece with Newcastle, and Blackbird, who did the same with Fulham. Seebecee and 664NOTB got seven apiece thanks to Bolton's vital win at Molineux.

Your forecasts revealed a strong favourite in seven fixtures, but in the others (at Newcastle, Wigan and Wolverhampton) opinion was neatly divided, with all home/draw/away predictions below 40%. The only unique Perfecto came from the third of those games, with Nobbystyle on the mark with the 2-3. Tip Of The Week to you sir!

Once again it was left to a Man. Utd Monday night late show to add a little gloss to a modest weekend, points-wise. The Correct Results percentage was the best since Round 14; it didn't compensate for all the failed Bankers, though United upped the average score from 14.82 to a respectable 19.14.

The two goals for the visitors at Blackburn delivered a 10pt Banker Perfecto for Silverfox1958 (Arsenal & England), who leapfrogged a queue of opponents to take the round honours with 33 pts. There was a three-way tie for second place between Fine City (Norwich C. & England), Bigboyslittleboy (Man. Utd & England) and Umbie08 (Man. Utd & USA) all with 31 pts.

The original giantkillers, Pt 2.
Last month, I brought you a story from the early years of organised football in England, and the club who became known as the original FA Cup giant-killers, Darwen FC. Comprised mainly of mill workers and labourers, this team from a suburb of Blackburn in industrial Lancashire stunned the football community of the late nineteenth century by not only entering the 1878-79 FA Cup (at the time, a preserve of gentlemen, army regiments and well-bred university chaps from the public schools) but advancing to beat The Remnants, a Berkshire club made up of the moneyed and well-connected, in the Third Round.

“Fancy! A lot of working chaps beating a lot of gentlemen,” was the proud reaction of Darwen folk when their team returned home. From the losers, there were dark mutterings questioning the status of Darwen's Scottish imports, Fergie Suter and James Love. Could they be professionals? What a reprehensible idea!

It's worth remembering that in the 1870s, the streets were still lit with gas lamps, the phone hadn't yet been invented and radio was still 15 years in the future. Horse-drawn carts filled cities and the penny-farthing bicycle was the epitome of modernity. A couple of cutting-edge engineers in Germany were working on a pie-in-the-sky project they called the 'horseless carriage' but it was possible to travel from one end of England to the other by rail provided you had all day and were prepared to change trains and railway companies a few times – and assuming you had the money to do so. Most hadn't. Society was divided between a small group of Haves, and the millions of Have-Nots, who worked long hours for them.

The laws of football were in their infancy. It was only a few years since 11 players per team had become the accepted standard. Penalties and throw-ins, for example, were yet to be invented, but all-in scrimmages, which had more in common with rugby, were commonplace. Another feature we take for granted was lacking: home and away ties hadn't yet become the norm in the Cup. In fact, the gentlemen of the recently formed Football Association, every one a toff, had, in a move eerily prescient of their loony 'all Semi-finals at Wembley' farce of our modern day, determined that all games after the Third Round must be played in London. I can't be certain that handlebar moustaches were also compulsory, but team photos suggest they were.

It was against this background that the men of Darwen sought to upset the social apple-cart by challenging their betters. Their reward for seeing off one lot of toffs was to hear some days later (by letter of course), that they had been drawn in the quarter finals against previous finalists Old Etonians, the crème de la crème of high society, aristocratic gentlemen of leisure and sporting pursuits. Darwen's problem now was how to pay for another trip to the South and for the players to persuade their employers to allow them to be absent from work. At the time, the regular working week was six days of eight hours, with only Sunday free.

When the news went around the football-mad town, the cotton mill workers set up a fund, and began to chip in their farthings, halfpennies and pennies. The owners of the businesses they worked for did more, and on Wednesday February 12th 1879, the Darwen team set off for London with not much more than civic pride and the fervour of their hometown to sustain them. For some, it must have been the trip of a lifetime. Such was the regional divide, one player who ordered a cup of tea at a refreshment kiosk on a London railway platform was assumed to be speaking a foreign language. I wonder what he made of the cock-er-nee patois?

Next day, the teams lined up for the kick-off at the Kennington Oval, nowadays better known as the home of Surrey County Cricket Club. In goal for the Old Etonians was one of the founding fathers of organised football, Lord Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird, a mere 41 years old. By the time he retired to become President of the FA, he would accumulate nine Cup medals, five as winner and four as runner-up. He appeared for different teams in successive finals – a feat that wasn't matched until exactly 100 years later, by Brian Talbot, with Ipswich and then Arsenal. Kinnaird's nine finals are still a record, and unlikely to be beaten if the game is played until Pele, Messi and Beckenbauer are just names from ancient history. Kinnaird's life story was remarkable – I must return to it some other time.

The well-nourished public school side were 7cm taller and 6 kgs heavier per man. They wore tailored sporting apparel, the visitors a motley array of cut down trousers and dark shirts with braces over. Were the Darwen lads wearied by the journey, or intimidated by their surroundings? Did the Etonians have skills to match their natty uniforms? Maybe it was a combination of all three that led to Darwen being 5-0 down before they collected their wits and mounted a comeback, with their Scotsmen to the fore.

With 15 minutes remaining, they were losing 5-2. Somehow, they recovered to make it 5-5 just before the final whistle! A businessman from Swinton, near Manchester, who happened to be in London for the day and had popped along to the match became so excited that he not only sprained his ankle but smashed his umbrella as well. I have not been able to find a report of how the hosts reacted to what must have been a scarcely credible setback, but the men from the North were left to contemplate returning for a replay at a date to be agreed.

More expense? More lost wages? Yes. Buoyed by their valiant performance, Darwen's well-wishers again dug deep. Fund-raising concerts were staged, a flood of coins from the townsfolk and banknotes from millowners ensured that on Saturday March 8th, the Ruled were back for another tilt at the Rulers. Had extra-time (introduced 1912) been around, the teams could have settled the matter that day, but when the referee signalled full time, the score was 2-2.

Faced with the prospect of another expensive trip and lost wages, the Darwen officials offered Old Etonians the fabulous sum of £40 to come and play the third game in Lancashire. Maybe £40 wasn't quite so fabulous to the toffs, who declined the generous offer and instead waited for Darwen to throw in the towel. They didn't, but the efforts involved in arranging another trek to Kennington finally got the better of them, and they lost the third game 6-2.

The Old Etonians went on to win the Cup, but Darwen's endeavours had set a change in motion. The following year, they reached the Semi-finals (with a 15-0 win over Romford) and more provincial teams followed them into the Cup – remember the founding of the Football League was still eight years in the future. A team from Darwen's neighbours Blackburn then toured the South winning with ease – a prelude to lifting the Cup five times in the 1880s. With the game gaining a fanatical popularity throughout the industrial regions, the Cup dominance of the upper classes was ended in 1883, after which a string of Northern and Midland clubs were successful as professionalism took hold.

Darwen were elected to the Football League in 1891 but only lasted a decade in the face of fierce competition from the emerging powers of the major towns and cities. They have played on in various guises for almost 140 years and today you'll find them as AFC Darwen in the North West Counties League Division 1. The mills and industries that sustained their predecessors may be gone, but the team, like their forebears, continue the fight.

Happy 90th, Sir Tom!
This week, the man who is in the opinion of many England's greatest living international celebrates his 90th birthday. On April 5th 1922, Tom Finney was born in a terraced house in a street next to Preston North End's Deepdale ground. He didn't look much like a footballer; after a sickly childhood, he stood a mere 4' 9”(1m. 45) at 14 and though clearly skilful, he was rejected by his local club as being too small and weak to have a chance of making it as a pro.

His response was to train exhaustively to build his physique and hone his skills. Though naturally left footed, Finney practised with his right so much that he came to trust it more completely than his left. Despite looking frail (his full-grown height was 5'7'' [1m 70], and weight 67 kgs), Finney became as strong as an ox, was good in the air and could handle himself in a tackle. His shooting was powerful and he also had an eye for goal.

Above all else though, Finney was a consumate dribbler. He could go past a defender simply with sheer pace, he could defeat them with a shuffle of his dancing feet or he could leave them hopelessly off balance with a drop of his shoulder. All the more pity then, that just after he finally signed on with his hometown club in 1939 aged 17, some idiot started a war, which delayed his League debut until 1946. He spent the intervening years as a tank driver in Montgomery's Eighth Army, and turning out for Army teams when opportunities permitted.

A month after his League debut, he was picked for the first of his 76 England appearances. By 1954 when he won his first Footballer Of The Year award, he was England's record goalscorer – not an easy feat while playing for a small provincial club. One of his team mates was Bill Shankly, who rated Tom the greatest English footballer ever.

Though the Italians came offering vast riches as his fame spread, Finney stayed loyal to Preston for his entire career, retiring in 1960 aged 38 after scoring 210 goals for them. As a nipper, I saw most of Finney's home games in his final season, and he was still a class act then. It wasn't the usual old pro's tale of declining skills and failing fitness. He played 38 of his team's 42 top-division league games and knocked in 17 goals. The most remarkable statistic relating to his 473 games is that he was never booked!

I'll leave the final word on Tom to Bill Shankly. When the young Kenny Dalglish was performing his magic at Liverpool in the late '70s, a journalist asked Bill if he was as good as Finney. "Aye, he's as good as Tommy – but then Tommy's nearly 60 now."

Another ref gets it wrong
Below you'll find a link to an incident in a Belgian provincial league game between Templeuve and Quevy. After Templeuve defender Julien Lecomte gets whacked with an elbow to the side of the head, he goes down concussed. The ref decides he's faking to get a penalty and decides to give him his second yellow; the player was spared the walk to the dressing room as he departed on a stretcher to hospital, where he was found to have three displaced vertebrae.

It's now a month since this incident, (which has become something of a Youtube sensation with over a million hits). Despite much googling of websites in English, French and Dutch, I haven't been able to find a single report stating whether the ref has apologised, the red has been cancelled or the real offender been booked!

As errors go, it doesn't compare with the Croatian ref who booked a player who had just dropped dead, but I don't think our Belgian whistler should expect a promotion anytime soon. See what you think:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzbfxx8bq3M

A Happy Easter to you all, folks! Until next month, take care.

Prof. Statto

 




 









 

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