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Boundary Park Alert System Statistical Review of 2023

 

© Professor James Reade, University of Reading

 

Another year done. While we ate and drank ourselves mad on Christmas Day, our blue, tangerine or purple-shirted heroes were watching their diets meticulously and keeping away from the drink to be ready to go for the Hartlepool match on Boxing Day. Some were posting on social media without proper advice.

 

This is because football just carries on. New year is the middle of the football story rather than the end or beginning of it. Football time is measured in seasons, not years.

 

But we’re not going to let that stop us from pretending otherwise. Welcome to the Boundary Park Alert System statistical analysis of the year as if it matters.

 

Here’s how it works: 2023 began at home against Notts County, fresh from a 4-1 thumping on Boxing Day. In the silly official league table, we were in 22nd and they were top. In the same so-called league table, we had a paltry 20 points and a minus-14 goal difference.

 

Annual National League Championship


In the more meaningful Annual National League Championship, we started the year on zero goal difference, with zero points accrued. Played none, won none, drawn none, lost none.

 

Our record in this prestigious imaginary competition was as follows:

 

P50 – W21 – D17 – L12

 

We scored 82 goals and conceded 65, giving us a positive goal difference of 17. This ends a run of 15 years in which we have conceded more than we scored. If that isn’t enough to pop the cork on that bottle of tombola fizz, why not put this in your pipe and smoke it: it’s the most goals we’ve scored in a year since 1990.

 

The blue line below illustrates how we have accrued that +17 goal difference over the year. A trend line would look strongest in the period between January and May, and more mediocre since. The rapid improvement since Mellon took over to our yearly best on 30 December offers some hope for January.

We've got form

 

Below is a very, very sophisticated graphic illustrating Latics in 2023 with a blue vertical line for each win, a tangerine line for each draw, and a purple line for each loss. In black is our points per game over the previous six matches, and in red is our points per game over the previous 12 matches. Form, for some reason, is always calculated over six matches, but as that’s quite short term, we arbitrarily took 12 as another measure. Either way, we fluctuated between less than one (starting the year, late March into early April, and late August into mid-September) to hitting the heights of around 2 points per game (right now, end of February, end of April, and October).


The real league table

 

Unsurprisingly, the 2023 National League table (see below) has Chesterfield as annual champions. They accrued 97 points from 49 matches, putting them four clear of runners-up Bromley on 93 points. We finished 5th with 80 points from 50 games, comfortably inside the play-offs. The annual play-offs would see us face up against Boredom Wood at home with Gateshead taking on Southend in the other quarter final. It's not particularly clear the extent to which anybody really cares.

 

One thing though that should be noted is that we are unbeaten against Chesterfield in 2023. Open-top bus anyone?

 


Pl

W

D

L

GS

GC

GD

Pts

 















Chesterfield

48

30

7

11

94

57

37

97

1



Bromley

51

25

18

8

85

53

32

93

2



Barnet

50

25

12

13

86

64

22

87

3



Gateshead

47

22

14

11

89

55

34

80

4



Oldham

50

21

17

12

82

65

17

80

5



Southend

48

22

7

19

67

52

15

73

6



Boreham W

50

18

18

14

58

58

0

72

7



Eastleigh

47

20

11

16

71

72

-1

71

8



Halifax

48

17

18

13

57

43

14

69

9



Solihull M

49

18

14

17

65

71

-6

68

10



Woking

48

18

12

18

58

56

2

66

11



Aldershot

49

17

13

19

75

86

-11

64

12



Altrincham

46

16

15

15

78

73

5

63

13



Wealdstone

47

16

12

19

62

71

-9

60

14



Dag & Red

50

17

9

24

55

69

-14

60

15



Wrexham

23

18

4

1

56

24

32

58

16



Maidenhead

48

12

17

19

48

67

-19

53

17



Dorking W

45

15

7

23

52

79

-27

52

18



Notts Co

22

15

5

2

54

20

34

50

19



York

47

11

16

20

62

79

-17

49

20



Rochdale

26

10

8

8

44

37

7

38

21



Torquay

22

8

5

9

30

33

-3

29

22



Hartlepool

26

8

4

14

41

52

-11

28

23



Oxford C

26

6

6

14

38

50

-12

24

24



Ebbsfleet

27

6

6

15

35

54

-19

24

25



Kidderminster

27

4

8

15

20

35

-15

20

26



Fylde

25

4

7

14

35

49

-14

19

27



Scunthorpe

22

5

3

14

21

38

-17

18

28



Yeovil

23

3

7

13

17

38

-21

16

29



Maidstone

21

0

4

17

15

50

-35

4

30















 

The table has 30 teams, with Maidstone firmly rooted to the bottom with just four points gained in National League football over the course of the year. Hollywood-funded Wrexham managed 16th place, which is not bad given that they played only 23 matches while others played as many as 51.

 

We’re better than we were: fact

 

The calendar year just finished was better than the two years that came before it. Okay, we averaged 0.9 points per game over 2021 (Kewell, Curle, Selim) and 2022 (the Shezurrection that never was, and the defensive mundanity of Unsworth). Now I think about it, it’s hard to imagine how we could have been any worse.

 

Miserably, we won just two away matches in the whole of 2022. We got two wins towards the end of our relegation season – at Scunthorpe and Stevenage. Both finished 1-0 and felt vital at the time, but ended up not mattering in the slightest. After that second 1-0 scrape in April, we had to wait until the first match of 2023 before we saw a win away from Boundary Park.


Among other reasons, that is why the club rightly values the support of OASIS (Oldham Athletic Supporters in the South) over any other fan group. We are the club's most dedicated fans. FACT.

 

In 2023, we’ve had more than five times as many away wins (11) as we managed in 2022, and we’ve scored 41 goals. That’s the most we’ve won and scored on the road since in a year since 1907. In 1907, just three years after the invention of powered flight, we won 12 on the road and scored 41, so 2023 is our joint best ever annual away goalscoring. If you're not jumping around after reading that, you might need to check your pulse.

 

It’s hard not to notice though that those numbers are significantly massaged by very recent away performances – since Micky Mellon took over. Mellon’s goals per game on the road is 2.5, whereas our goals per game in the 18 matches pre-Mellon was just 1.4. Our win percentage on the road under Mellon is a ridiculous 83.3% – the virtue of small samples. Our win percentage BM (Before Mellon) was a significantly more modest 33%. Better than two wins in 24, as we had in 2022, though (8% for crying out loud).

 

Historically, two or more points per game has been enough for the National League title (all bar five occasions), and just above 1.6 points per game for the final play-off position of seventh. In 2023 we averaged 1.6 points per game. Must do better.

 

Champions of yesteryear have averaged 1.9 goals per game, conceding 0.9 goals per game, and the last play-off position (which has varied a little given play-offs only began in the National League in 2003) has scored 1.5 and conceded 1.2 per game. We’ve scored 1.6 per game and conceded 1.3 per game in 2023. We really could do with sorting that defence out.

 

Le piss résistance: the Pissboil Index

 

Since the summer, myself, the OASIS IT team and others have been developing a sophisticated measure of the mood of Latics fans. This follows violent disagreements in pubs and on public transport about the absolute state of it.

 

We have named this the Pissboil Index™. It reflects the beliefs of Latics fans prior to each match relative to a more objective assessment of how well we might do in a match, and the actual match outcome. The more objective assessment comes from a statistical model that factors in league positions, goal difference and other variables in an ordered logistical regression model. If you don’t understand that, it’s because you’re not a Professor of Economics at the University of Reading and I am.

 

An additional factor is the distance Latics fans have travelled to away games. For home games, the closer the visitors, the more likely the pissboil, ceteris paribus, which is a flash way of saying “given the given” or “other things being equal”. If Latics win, the pissboil is 25% of what it would otherwise be.

 

Finally, the number we get out of the machine is converted into degrees Celsius using Bayesian inference. This gives us the mean temperature of the piss of Oldham fans after any given game. Again, take my word for it. I’m not messing about.

 

Opponents

Venue

Pissboil

Southend United

A

339.233606

Aldershot Town

H

15.898856

FC Halifax Town

H

425.739729

Chesterfield

A

21.078206

Boreham Wood

A

130.578665

Solihull Moors

H

35.701104

Gateshead

A

18.089754

Dorking Wanderers

H

33.788546

Bromley

A

27.437216

York City

H

28.001722

Oxford City

H

0.000000

Kidderminster Harriers

A

7.149033

Wealdstone

A

51.312249

Maidenhead United

H

243.760164

Dagenham & Redbridge

H

9.952021

Rochdale

A

5.653793

AFC Fylde

A

152.651887

Altrincham

H

23.301665

Eastleigh

H

7.645164

Woking

A

30.182733

Barnet

A

2.737714

Ebbsfleet United

H

19.985075

Solihull Moors

A

4.379007

Gateshead

H

28.826185

Hartlepool United

A

19.039219

Hartlepool United

H

9.352902

 

The index shows that the Pissboil was at its most fierce during the interminable 1-2 home defeat by Halifax, coming so soon after the glorious 5-1 win over Aldershot seemed to have repaired the damage of the absolutely searing pissboil at Southend on the opening day.

 

Flyde can’t go without mention, coming so shortly after the 4-3 win at Rochdale. Honourable mentions also for Boring Wood and Maidenhead.

 

The Pissboil Index will be updated on a regular basis from here on in as we career into 2024. If you have any ideas about how to improve the formula, please keep them to yourself. We’ve done the work and we’re really happy with it.


Happy new year!

 




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