Monday, 5 January 2009

Goals, Goals, Goals!

Goals, goals, goals! Let’s face it, one of the main reasons we carry on going back to watch this beautiful game. The belief that the game we are about to endure will be that classic 5-5 draw that we always hear about, but never actually end up going to. In reality, it usually turns out to be a 0-0 bore draw, and deep down you kind of expected it. But maybe, just maybe, next time it will be that goal fest. That's why we go back for more.

My Dad is a season ticket holder at Manchester City, and I know it still rankles that the only home game he has missed in about a million years was the Manchester City v Huddersfield game on 7th November 1987. The result? 10-1 to City.

I am prompted to bring this subject up by the relatively low scoring set of FA Cup games that have just skidded on by on this first, and very icy, weekend of 2009. I was freezing my nether-regions off at The Hawthorns watching a very entertaining Third Round FA Cup tie between WBA and Peterborough United. The game finished 1-1, and as we thawed out behind the Smethwick End stand watching the results from around the country trickle in, it struck me how few goals had been scored. A number of 0-0 draws: at Cup holders Portsmouth, up at Hull and at Leicester and QPR. A smattering of single goal victories and a few 1-1 draws. No spectacularly high scores and certainly no thumpings or hammerings. I expected a hat-full of goals at Chelsea, but Southend United defied the odds and only conceded one, incredibly matching their hosts' goal tally themselves.

I cast my mind back to my ‘Wick To Wembley’ journey last year, and from the Third Round on the story was the same. I saw a couple of 1-0 scorelines and a couple of 2-0 results. But prior to the Third Round the average goal count was noticeably higher. Why was that? The earlier rounds involved more non League football; is there an argument that you get to see more goals lower down the pyramid? Could this be true?

This season, in the FA Vase, I have seen a total of 25 goals in 6 games, an average of just over 4 a game, which is an impressive average for any level of football. This probably goes some way to explaining my enjoyment of the competition so far. But maybe I have just been lucky. So, with a little bit of delving and number crunching, I've come up with some really amateurish statistics. Actually, a handful of figures thrown together; chuck them into a table and - behold - they look like statistics and just about fit the bill.

I have totalled the number of goals scored in all of the 32 Third Round ties of both the FA Cup and FA Vase competitions for each of the last 5 seasons. The Third Round was chosen for no other reason than the fact that it was this weekend's Third Round FA Cup games which started me off on this train of thought.

SeasonFA Cup FA Vase
* Does not include 4 postponed ties

As a piece of scientific research it will not stand up to much of a rigorous examination and there are more holes in it than a defence marshalled by Richard Dunne. But interesting, don't you think? A not insignificant difference in goals scored with the FA Vase count considerably higher every season. Over the 5 seasons, the FA Vase Third Round Proper ties have averaged a little over 3.6 goals a game, compared to 2.1 goals per game in the FA Cup. Since the 2004-05 season, there have been only two 0-0 draws in 160 FA Vase ties. Now, I'm no expert, but these are pretty cool numbers. Not exactly a great party chat-up line, but one for the pub with your footy mates.

Can I conclude it is more exciting watching non League games? Perhaps. Can I conclude you get more value at an FA Vase encounter, more goals for your money? Quite possibly. I can say that I have certainly seen the goals fly in from all over the pitch on this FA Vase run and as a consequence I feel the actual games have been more entertaining than those on last season's FA Cup journey. And considering how much the whole FA Cup experience last year simply blew me away, this really is a bold statement to make.

I can hear many of you now muttering the words 'kiss' and 'death' and I don't blame you. If Bitton AFC and Cogenhoe United in the next round now finishes 0-0, and you are at the game, I'll be in the bar afterwards. You'll have my permission to shoot me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And you call me Statto? (your footy companion PB!)