Fixtures and results so far
The Meek that was
CA man of the match
CA un-man of the match
04-05 vs 05-06
Curse of the ex
The Cardiff experience
The season in pictures
World Cup 2006
Mat's betting tips
Meek's World Cup clichés
They played against Town
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
Ballpark Figures: Whither way when?
So another Saturday passed, another home win for Town. It's getting to be a bit of a habit, this. Considering we've supposedly got a terrible home record, did you realise we've now got jointly the most home wins in the division?
I don't know about you though, but at a couple of minutes to three I was expecting the worst. Justin Whittle appeared to choose to shoot towards the Pontoon in the first half! Surely 21 months at Blundell Park is long enough to learn, isn't it? Is he quite mad?
And so that's what I've been investigating this week. Is Whittle off his rocker, and do Town fare better in matches where they shoot towards the Osmond end first, with the home fans roaring on the team shooting towards them in the second half? Or does shooting towards the Ponny in the first half get the Mariners off to a flier?
Historically it appears that the former of these is felt to be the better option. As Captain Whittle made clear in his post-match interview, explaining his decision, he knew shooting towards the home end in the first half went again perceived wisdom. In fact, in 110 home league matches in the past four and a bit seasons, Grimsby have started matches attacking the Osmond end 85 times. That's 77 per cent of all league matches at BP. Only one in four matches starts with the black and whites shooting north-west.
The chart below then, shows the average points per game (ppg), by season, splitting the matches by whether Town started shooting towards the Osmond end (orange) or the Pontoon (purple).
In 2003-04 and 2004-05 the Mariners did better shooting towards the Osmond end in the first half. In 2001-02, 2002-03 and so far this season they've done better attacking the Pontoon end first. This season, the five matches that began with the Mariners attacking the Pontoon have ended with a ppg of 2.60 - four wins and one draw. In fact Town have not lost a match they've begun by shooting towards the home fans since Hartlepool beat them in March 2004.
The chart below perhaps makes the difference clearer. Here we have the difference between the two ppgs, calculated as Osmond end ppg minus Pontoon end ppg. So a positive number means that perceived wisdom is correct and it is better for Town to attack the Osmond in the first half, while a negative number means tradition should be thrown out of a 12th-storey window after jumping up and down on it, setting it on fire and pulling its legs off.
The evidence is clear: Town perform better when they begin matches shooting towards the home end. In fact the difference, over the 110 matches I considered, is 0.25 points. Over a course of a season, with 23 league games at home, this equates to six points. That would have kept us from getting relegated in 2003-04, you know, assuming we'd had the choice of end.
This season the difference is 1.22 ppg. If the 13 matches we started by attacking the Osmond had actually begun with us shooting the other way, and the stats were to hold true, we'd have 16 extra points by now. We'd be 15 points clear at the top of the table, one point off Slade's magic 81, 27 points clear of eighth place and only need four more points to guarantee a play-off berth. In fact we'd only need five wins from our remaining ten matches to guarantee the title.
Justin, if you're reading this, you made the right decision on Saturday. Whenever you get the choice in future, don't bow to perceived wisdom; stick with the stats!