Squad age profiles: League 1, 2016/17

Continuing today’s onslaught of end-of-season graphics for League 1, here’s an updated version of the squad age profile graphic.

These are intended to give a quick visual overview of the age of players that each club has fielded in league matches using a technique very similar to “population pyramid” graphs, although I’ll freely admit that they’ve come out with shades of the Rorschach test (or as someone observed on Twitter, the Habitat lighting range).


Hopefully they’re fairly self-explanatory, but here’s a quick summary anyway:

For each club I’ve added up all the league minutes played by every player this season and calculated the percentage accumulated by players of every age, rolling up “18 and under” and “35 and over” for neatness’ sake.

Each vertical “step” on a club’s chart is a year, with the major age milestones denoted by slightly thicker lines (as per the labels on the left). The width of the coloured graph at each step corresponds to the percentage of minutes accounted for by players of that age.

I haven’t labelled the percentage values as the graphs were already getting pretty busy and I figured that the general shape and proportions were sufficient to compare teams against each other. I may revisit this (and a few other tweaks) later in the season once I’ve done a bit more tinkering.

I’ve also calculated the average age of each club’s starting line-ups this season and used this to sort all the clubs in a division from oldest to youngest.

Hopefully that’s enough to give you the idea, so let’s dive in. 

The two oldest sides – Northampton and Wimbledon – are both newcomers to the division and the only clubs with an average age of 28 or over. Perhaps they’ve looked to experienced heads to help them adjust? Almost two thirds of the Cobblers’ league minutes have been racked up by players aged at least 27.

Bradford‘s squad may need a bit of remodelling next season, as over two thirds of their minutes were contributed by players in the 28-31 age range, so a few of them will probably have already passed their physical peak.

Port Vale have a bit of a “generation gap” it seems: nearly all of their league minutes have been completed by players who are either under 24 or over 28.

The youngest team in the division are the other not to have used a player in their 30s: Swindon actually didn’t field anyone over the age of 26 and almost two thirds of their playing minutes been accrued by players aged 23 or under.

Experience does seem to have paid off more often than not this season: four of the final top eight are in the “oldest” row and three of the four relegated sides are in the “youngest”.