I get asked the same questions quite a lot, so I thought I’d stick answers to the most common ones here:
Where do you get your data from?
Except where stated, I only use publicly-available data that can be found online – it’s what powers the BBC’s generated commentary feeds. If you’re looking for some simple data then the best place to start is probably http://www.football-data.co.uk where you can find a load of CSV files that include match-by-match shot counts for a range of divisions. Getting hold of more granular information (such as shot or pass locations) requires either money or the ability to scrape it from the web.
What software do you use?
For the most part it’s nothing more esoteric than Microsoft Excel, although I’ve heavily automated it with my own custom code to create the visualisations.
Why don’t you focus on the top divisions?
The Premier League and other leading European competitions have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to match data (as well as actual money) and there are a myriad of bloggers clamouring to write about them. As a fan of an increasingly lower league club, I think the balance has tipped too far towards the top end of the food chain, so this blog is aimed at catering for the smaller clubs who aren’t usually deemed worthy of mainstream coverage.
There’s a quote I really like from The Secret Footballer blog, which goes something like this:
However when I build something that works for the lower leagues, I’ll often adapt it for as many other leagues as I can get my hands on the data for, as it’s often interesting to compare stats as widely as possible.
Can I adapt / reproduce your material?
Yes, as long as:
- I’m credited;
- there’s a link back to the source material here;
- you aren’t misrepresenting me;
- you aren’t making money out of it;
then it shouldn’t be a problem. I’m all in favour of people citing my work as part of a post about a team’s performance etc – that’s exactly the sort of discussion this blog is intended to foster for lower league football.
Can you write a guest article / appear on a podcast etc?
I’ll try to contribute if I can, but I don’t have a massive amount of free time so please don’t be offended if I decline.
How do I get in touch with you?
The fastest way to reach me is to tweet at @experimental361. However if character limit is an issue, then my all means send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the blog’s name all about?
The original incarnation of this blog focused exclusively on the three Football League divisions, which I’d analyse around other commitments during the six non-footballing days of the week and then see how much I got right on the seventh. The strapline therefore became: “3 divisions covered, 6 days of analysing them and 1 day of being proven utterly wrong”.
My choice of the 3-6-1 formation dates back to playing games like Football Manager, Sensible Soccer etc in the 1990s and feeling compelled to adopt one of the more unusual formations on offer rather than sticking to a more “tried and tested” approach. It didn’t always work, but it felt like more of a legitimate and personal challenge than using a proven template and the successes I did enjoy were all the sweeter for having taken a more individual path.
I try to apply the same philosophy here: not trying to be different for the sake of it, but creating a style of output that covers the things I genuinely care about in a way that I think works best, rather than reproducing what’s already been done.
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