Outside the Box: Can we draw conclusions from these strange new statistics?
Sunday 04 October 2009
This season's Premier League has been notable for two statistical oddities. Before this weekend, 66 games produced a mere four draws. The normal rate is about one every four games, so this is astonishingly low. With most teams outside the top six considered to be much of a muchness, the expectation would be for more draws than average. The high number of goals has been gratifying (except for Hull fans) if equally unusual. Last season only Liverpool averaged more than two per game; so far this season, seven teams are doing so. Statistical freaks? Or is there a better explanation?
Bear witness to greatness
A new book, 'Peter Knowles: God's Footballer' (Breedon Books, £16.99), by journalist and Wolves fan Steve Gordos recounts the extraordinary tale of the talented, glamorous former Wolves and England Under-23 forward. Forty years ago this month, at the height of his fame as "the English George Best", Knowles retired, aged 23, to become a Jehovah's Witness. He says it was the best decision of his life and retains his faith while stacking shelves at Marks & Spencer in Wolverhampton. But he is annoyed that the book should ever have been written, which has disappointed the author, who told OTB: "I hope one day he may realise the affection in which he is held by Wolves fans of my generation." The subtitle comes from a Billy Bragg song about Knowles ("He scores goals on a Saturday/He saves souls on a Sunday"). Which means two footballing brothers, Peter and the late Cyril Knowles, both had pop songs written about them. Who could forget "Nice One Cyril" by Cockerel Chorus, Spurs' 1973 League Cup final record, which reached No 14 and stayed in the Top 50 for three months?
Keeping up with the pace
The days of the genuine football-cricketer may be long gone, but it's possible to make a career in both successively rather than concurrently. Gary Montgomery played in goal for Coventry, Rotherham and Grimsby until being released by the Mariners last spring, then took 26 wickets as a left-arm seamer for the Lancashire Second XI. He was rewarded with a contract for next season, following in the footsteps of the county's chief executive Jim Cumbes – a goalkeeper for Tranmere, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Southport, and paceman for Lancs, Surrey, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
Out on a limb for Blades
Food for thought (prawns, probably) for well-heeled Premier League fans. John Hancox, a Sheffield United season-ticket holder, is 62, partially blind and diabetic, has had a kidney transplant and heart by-pass. When he had his right leg amputated, he asked for his prosthetic limb to be painted in red and white with the Blades' crossed-swords crest, saying it would motivate him to climb the steps to his regular seat at Bramall Lane. It has just made its debut on the Kop.
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