Wednesday 4 May 2016

Double The Horn Revenge At Last

When I was very young for work reasons my parents moved from Liverpool to Leicester.  They had family in both places.  An unintended consequence is that I have followed the relevant soccer teams ever since, if only for reasons of diplomacy and getting the extra sixpence from interested relatives.

When Leicester City started the season well, there was hope of avoiding relegation and I would have been happy for them to end up mid table and safe, but they went on winning until it was time to hide in the bathroom when the results came up on TV.

The celebrations go on and there are happy people in Leicester and district and a few elsewhere with the City team taking the Premiership title with two games to play.  It was thought to be an impossible dream but they did it.

It is sad that Joe Melia, the actor educated at the City Boys School, Leicester, around twenty years before Gary Lineker, did not live to enjoy the day.  It would have appealed to his quirky sense of humour.  I was with him a couple of times at matches.

In the spring of '61 the missus and I were living in a ground floor flat within a mile of Filbert Street, then the Leicester City ground. That year the City made it to the FA Cup Final and were up against Tottenham Hotspur and had a fair chance of winning.  That was until full back Len Chalmers was injured after twenty minutes.

There were no substitutes then so Chalmers hobbled around out on the wing to little purpose eventually leaving.  Also, it meant a reshuffle for the City in a hard game as well as being down to ten men. Tottenham scored a couple of late goals for a scruffy win.  There are still people around who remember and for whom this title will have a particular joy.

Meanwhile the media and the web abound with the reasons why City won the title.  My theory is that as their winning run began when King Richard III was buried with full honours at Leicester Cathedral, someone up there is rooting for them.

One aspect all the highly paid experts seem to omit is the way the game has been changing in the last decade or so.  Digitisation is here as well as in so many things.

It has become possible for management to have an abundance of information to hand, statistics, plots and visuals on each player and the team as a whole.  This affects tactics and training as well as the deployment of players in different phases of a match.

What it could mean is that the recent decades of a handful of teams dominating at the top could be over in that more clubs not only have access to the world's best players, but they can be used far more effectively closing the gap between the richest and less rich clubs.

To use a well worn phrase, it makes for a more level playing field. So not only do the top teams take more points from each other but have become liable to drop points playing against teams, thought to be lesser, but who go out there far better prepared to take them on.

We shall see, now where can I find some Everard's?


  1. I had a drop of Everards Tiger bitter yesterday by the river Soar. Very pleasant and the pub landlord was looking forward to a roaring trade over the weekend.

  2. Datacrunching- Brings to mind American Baseball and Billy Beane's stint as general manager in the book and movie 'Moneyball'. One of the takeaways from that was that there's and art to the science- "what matters, and why". I quite enjoy your perspective, as I've worked with and for a few Englishmen over the years and you've been a cultural resource for perspective on the underlying (non textbook)culture. Family left Manchester in the 1870s, so I guess I'm curious about what the Old Country is up to.