Thursday, August 31, 2023

500 scorelines (more football data nerdery)

I freely admit I'm a football data nerd. I've blogged previously about my 'Book of Days' project and also how a football app has influenced my matchgoing

Last week I clocked up my 500th football match since I started logging going to football matches in 1992. This seemed like a large enough round number to provide a dataset for me to review to see which scorelines are the ones I've seen the most. I've gridded them up and colour coded them to show incidence rates.

It's a simple grid - 'home' scores are down the left hand side and 'away' scores are across the top. 

The data

There are some caveats about the data. I excluded one game because it was abandoned after 15 minutes (when the floodlights at Jenner Park blew a fuse and robbed me of a twofer!) so technically there are only 499 games on the grid. The results are either after a full 90 minutes, or at the end of extra time in cup games that went to extra time. Penalty shoot outs aren't included.

I haven't divided the games up by type (league, cup, friendly). The 500 games in the dataset include results from games seen in all four countries of the UK and one game in the USA. It includes international matches, including three Olympic matches. There are two women's games.

The results

The obvious finding is that it's hard to score goals in football so it is far more likely to see a game where each side only scores 1 or 2 goals. I've seen marginally more games where the away team won 1-0 than games that the home team won 1-0. I've seen exactly the same number of games that finished in 2-1 victories for both the home and away teams. And the most likely score for any game I go to see is 1-1.

Where the numbers get more ragged things get more interesting. I've never seen a home side win 4-3, but I have seen three away teams win 3-4. I've seen teams win away 3-5 and 4-5 (which was a very memorable Poole Town game against Paulton Rovers), but I've not seen home wins by the reversed scorelines. 

The proper outliers are all memorable. The highest scoring game I've ever been to is the 16-0 victory for Cardiff Corinthians in the Welsh Cup last season. It's all out on its own on the grid. The 8-3 result was at the tail end of last season when Barry Town thrashed Afan Lido. The 2-7 is from this season - another Poole Town victory. (Poole seem to be doing their bit to keep my scorelines looking interesting.)

I will update this when I hit my next worthwhile matchgoing milestone. Maybe by then I will have seen a game end 4-3. If I can add to the smattering of weird scorelines on the fringes too, that will be a bonus.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Sing-along landscaping leaflet

A leaflet came through the door and made me sing...

Cathy wasn't impressed when I sang "All types of patios, remind me of you!" to the tune of "All kinds of everything." I suppose it isn't much of a compliment.

It also wouldn't win a Eurovision song contest, like the original song did in 1970.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Theatre review - Keenor: The Original Bluebird

This week I was privileged to attend opening night of Keenor: The Original Bluebird, a one-man play written and performed by my friend, Rhys. Here's a review. 

Before I start I have to say this isn't going to be a very objective review. I met Rhys through going to Barry Town matches around the country. Last Saturday I was chatting to him in the Barry club shop. He has talked about this play almost every time I have seen him for months. So I know the hard research he put in to writing it, and the effort he put in promoting it. The phrase 'passion project' comes to mind - and I'm always impressed when people have an idea and then go on to actually make it happen.

Fred Keenor was the captain of Cardiff City when they won the FA Cup final of 1927 - which remains the only time the FA Cup has been won by a team outside England. It was Keenor's second cup final after Cardiff had narrowly lost in 1925. And the play starts with that, incorporating Pathe footage of the defeat before 'Keenor' made an entrance onto the set that was decked out as the Wembley dressing room.

My friend Sara, who is a Cardiff season-ticket holder came to the play with me. The venue was upstairs at Tiny Rebel Brewing in Cardiff. 

The play was in a room next to the kitchen, which wasn't sound-proofed, and occasionally we could also hear passing traffic outside. However, I didn't find the ambient noise a distraction - in a way it added to the performance because it the Wembley dressing room would not have been an isolated, tranquil place.

Rhys's research included talking to Fred Keenor's grandchildren alongside the biographies. The details added authenticity to the scenes set in Roath where he grew up, at Ninian Park where he played, and on the Western Front. Fred was in the 'Footballer's Battalion' and was wounded at the Somme. The contrast between the hollow 'victory' at the end of the War, and the triumph at Wembley a few years later was thought provoking. 

It's difficult to watch plays when you know the person acting - you tend to see them rather than the character they are playing. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay Rhys is that it wasn't long before I forgot it was him up there because I was absorbed in the story he was telling. 

Keenor has finished its first run now. However, there is another chance to see it next month if you want to see it too. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Balancing act

Took a trip to the Knap in Barry yesterday. Weather wasn't great at first but then the sun came out. I amused myself by building some rocky towers.

They weren't the tallest towers but it was a bit too windy for them to stay up when they got to a certain height. However, every time they toppled meant I had the fun of starting over.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Snack(s) of the month: biscuits and peas

After a 'double bust' in July, I'm blogging two good snacks this month.

The first snack was a gift from my friends Paul and Val, who brought me back some sugar biscuits from Menorca. 

These had quite a low fat content, which meant Cathy could snack on them too. The chocolate ones were our favourites, but honestly neither pack lasted very long.

The second snack was an impulse purchase called Pulse (without the im). 

There were plenty of peas in the packet. They were supposed to be salt and pepper flavour, although I couldn't taste much of the flavouring.

However, they were very moreish with a nice crunch and a good savoury flavour. I'd happily buy them again.

Friday, August 04, 2023

Football recap of the month - July 2023

I'm not planning to do a separate football post every month, but my main recap for July was mostly about me changing jobs. It didn't feel like there was also space for me to talk about football matches too.

This year I set a new record for football matches in July, going to seven games. Five of them were friendlies but the two competitive games I went to ended in penalty shoot outs and there was some other drama along the way as well.

Game 1: Barry Town 1-0 Canton Liberals

Entertainment value: 1/5
Reason for going: I'd not seen a game on the 1st July before.
Noteworthy fact: This is one of the last games played by "Canton Liberals". At the end of July the club announced they had changed their name to Canton FC.

Game 2: Cardiff Met 0-2 Cardiff Draconians

Entertainment value: 3/5 (mainly because its fun to watch Cardiff Met lose)
Reason for going: this was the first game for the Dracs under their new manager, Nana Baah and also my friend Steve wanted to go.
Noteworthy fact: see reason for going

Game 3: Barry Town 5-2 Cardiff Corinthians

Entertainment value: 5/5 (7 goals - and the Corries were a much better team than the scoreline suggests)
Reason for going: Peer pressure, and to see if the Corries are going to be any good this season.
Noteworthy fact: This turned out to be Barry manager Lee Kendall's final home game in charge as he unexpectedly resigned the following weekend.

Game 4: Haverfordwest County 1-0 FK Shkendija (1-1 aggregate after extra time. Pens 3-2)

Entertainment value: 4/5 (although the first 85 minutes were 2/5. The rating (was boosted by a very late goal and the drama of a shootout)
Reason for going: it was a Europa Conference League qualifying match held at Cardiff City Stadium - within walking distance of my house - and there was the added curiosity value of seeing a team from North Macedonia.
Noteworthy fact 1: the previous time I saw Haverfordwest the game ended with a penalty shoot out. Goalkeeper Zac Jones saved two penalties in both shoot outs.
Noteworthy fact 2: Haverfordwest became the only club from the Cymru Leagues to win a tie and progress in European qualifiers this season.

Hero keeper!

Game 5: Cwmbran Celtic 2-2 Taff's Well (no ET. Pens 0-3)

Entertainment value: 5/5
Reason for going: this MG Cup game was a last minute alternative after a game I planned to go to was called off due to Biblical levels of rain. Basically it was close enough to get to.
Noteworthy fact: this was my second game in a row that ended in a penalty shoot out - after Cwmbran scored twice in time added on at the end of the game. The Taff's Well goalkeeper saved the first two kicks he faced.

Game 6: Caldicot Town 3-2 Shirehampton FC

Entertainment value: 4/5
Reason for going: My friend Ben plays for Caldicot. He got an assist.
Noteworthy fact: Shirehampton were the first English team I'd seen this season.

Game 7: Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Notts County 

Entertainment value: 2/5
Reason for going: my friend Paul is a Notts County fan so we travelled up together along with Paul's wife, Val, and another Shrewsbury fan who is also called Paul. We all had lunch at my mum's house where Fred the dog made some new friends!
Noteworthy fact: with typical foresight, Shrewsbury had closed the old club shop and hadn't opened the new one yet, so no new shirt for me!

Pre-match canine shenanigans for Paul

Roll on August!

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Recap of the month - July 2023

Well, I had a feeling July was going to be mega-busy. And I was right.

New job... not as a train driver, though

The most mega-thing of the mega-busy month was finally changing jobs. This has been in train for a while, as I was working through a three month notice period. After 13 years I have left the NHS and joined the charity Diabetes UK. It's a communications management role working on a programme that supports young people with Type 1 Diabetes.

My final week in the NHS was a big one, with a booked-out event held at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales near Carmarthen.

Blodau Gymreig

The event logistics were unusual, in that we were spread over two locations with a short walk in-between. The short walk was through a garden and the paths featured tiny wandering frogs. It was the first time I've ever experienced people being late for sessions because they were rescuing amphibians. 

I took a day off in that last week to travel to London to meet my new colleagues as a rare face-to-face meeting had been scheduled on the Thursday before I was due to start. I travelled up with two members of staff from the Cardiff office, which was helpful to start getting a handle on the programme. I also timed it well as there was an organisation-wide social event - with a beach theme - in the afternoon, which included beer! Not bad for a first day.

My beach-ready new team (and me)

And so to my last day...

Last day selfie. Goodbye NHS Wales!

After clearing my locker and handing my laptop back, it was time to say goodbye. Some of my colleagues joined me later in the evening at The Vegetarian Food Studio for a goodbye meal. We all ate a lot of very good food! Despite living around the corner from the restaurant for over two decades, it was the first time I had ever eaten there. I'm hoping I get the chance to go back soon. 

That was the Friday night. I had a weekend of unemployment and then on the Monday I started the new job. As I've said to a few people, this job change feels like I am rolling back through my career - back to diabetes, back to comms, back to the third sector! In a weird way it feels a lot like coming home after a long time away, and so far the people I got to know in those former roles have welcomed my prodigal soul back. 

Ah, it's easy to get sentimental about these things. I've landed in the middle of a big rebranding exercise, with an important showcase piece of work due to drop in a few short weeks, so I've had to shake off some rust and dust and get up to speed quickly. But so far, so good. 

Outside of work it's been busy too. The football season has restarted and I went a record number of games for July - in fact, I'm going to do a run down of the games I went to separately. 

Cathy and I also went to our first gig of the year together - to see Bastille at Cardiff Castle (which I've already blogged about). We also had a rare outing to the cinema and saw the new Pixar movie, Elementals.

I even made it to this month's Keep Grangetown Tidy litter pick - finds this time included a microwave oven and a trashed standard lamp.

So, all in all, a busy 31 days.