This is probably going to be my last post before Christmas. So, if it is, then Merry Christmas. If not, then I’ll say Merry Christmas again!
Game of the Round – Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers
A bit of an own goal by the A-League here (puns), putting the best game first, with nothing to follow it up over the next five days. Even then, nothing was really leaping out at me, so I just settled for this. There’ll be more on that later.
The Wanderers made their way to a 2-2 draw against the coachless Wellington Phoenix last week, going from 2-0 up to 2-2 within fifteen minutes, with writer for the A-League website, Josh Bennett, writing that they “[had] blown the chance to consolidate a spot in the top six”.
Across the ditch, Brisbane beat the low-dwelling Central Coast Mariners 2-1, Jamie McLaren heading home the winner in the 76th minute.
This might not be the most exciting game, but it’s the one I chose for this week.
Mini-Article – Dodgy Fixturing
An article appeared in today’s Herald Sun by Matt Windley1 with the headline “Fixture scrooges must let soccer be life of party season”.
I’m quoting verbatim from a section here, please don’t shoot me News Corp lawyers:
On Monday, Football Federation Australia trumpeted its summer of football, whereby 10 matches will be played over 11 days during the Christmas-New Year period.
But that’s fewer than the 10 games in 10 days we usually get over the course of two normal rounds – for example, from Friday of Round 10 to the Sunday of Round 11.
Granted, there is no point in playing games on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. But borrowing from not only the Big Bash but also the English Premier League’s popular Christmas-New Year schedule, the A-League could have easily slotted in an extra round’s worth of matches between December 21 and January 8.
As for the “ten games in ten days” thing, the circumstances are somewhat different here. We’re having games played pretty consistently over the eleven days, as opposed to the games bunched up in two clumps under the normal scheme.
But, and this is rare for me, I actually agree with a News Corp article. There is no good reason for the A-League not to have games stockpiled throughout the New Year’s period.
They could argue that it would be destroyed by the Big Bash League, which is true. But it’s being destroyed by the Big Bash League anyway. Also, that period is precisely when people have evenings spare, and don’t have to go to work the next day.
For an example, my dad’s work ends at noon tomorrow, and returns on Monday, January 9. If there was one game played every night in that period, then that would be three rounds in two and a bit weeks.
That’s close enough to the current fixture, you might argue. But we could do it like this: play two games on Friday, December 23, and three on Boxing Day for one round. Then, from December 27 to January 5, play one game each day (there’s two rounds there), and then two games on January 7, two games on January 8, and one game on January 9 to finish it off. Four rounds in the time of three, soccer on almost every not, and possibly larger crowds.
Chart XII – Christmas Leaders
It’s a factoid over in England that I heard once that whoever leads at Christmas usually ends up winning the league.
I thought I’d check how that held up with the A-League, and the answer is pretty well.
Out of the eleven seasons of the A-League, the eventual premier would be on top at Christmas in eight of them (73%). And in the three seasons when they didn’t win, they would end it second.
It’s not surprising that this held true in the early seasons of the A-League, when the season was two-thirds done by the New Year, but it’s pretty impressive that, even when we’re only ~41% of the way through, the leader can set themselves up for the final result.
I got four last week! That puts me at 26 out of 54, which is nearly half!
Hopefully I get four again this round and push myself over the 50% hump.
1Page 54, if you want to look at it (readers in rural areas may have a different layout), or alternatively go to the article on their website.