At This Stage: October 2023


By Pete H

Blink and you’ll miss it; October 2023 is marked ‘complete’ – and we’re now deeply immersed in this current League One campaign. As we go from one storm to the next, there is no doubt we are hurtling towards deepest winter. On the subject of weather, Boro’ have fared alright in recent weeks. Sure, not every result went our way. But a tricksy line-up of fixtures in October has come and gone – and we’ve kept ourselves in a very respectable position.

League One comparison at this stage

The raw data shows that we dropped from third to sixth over the course of October 2023. Not that it’s a disaster by any stretch; not least when you look at our recent fixtures and results. If it’s causing you a wee bit of distress, please rest assured that Port Vale collapsed from fourth at the end of September to 16th now. Exeter City too have struggled; tumbling from sixth down to 17th. So, that perspective alone gives our current form a warmer glow to it.


Yes, Boro’ may still be six points worse off than our 2012-3 League One campaign. But we are three points better off than at this stage of the season we made the League One playoffs.


Are there any notable lookalike seasons?

As the season wears on, we should start to see fewer and fewer comparable seasons; points totals starting to become spread out more thinly. For now, we have three other campaigns in which we had returned 26 points from 16 league outings. Bizarrely, two of them followed one after the other in 1999-00 and 2000-1. The third was comfortably before that with our start to the 1989-90 Vauxhall Opel League Division Two North season.


Boro’ may have won eight out of their first 16 league games during the 1999-00 season. But it should always be remembered that six of those came in the first six games. The following 10 results produced just two wins, which reflected a shocking downturn in form.


The best and the worst after 16 games

By now, it’s becoming clear which of our past campaigns are the GOATs. Both the 1980-1 and 1993-4 seasons saw us on 13 league wins out of 16; the former only delivering two points for a win at that point in history though. So, even though the points haul doesn’t seem as great, that caveat explains it. The Goals For and Goal Difference columns also speak for themselves. Not far behind those two campaigns, meanwhile, are two more from the early 1990s.


Believe it or not, Boro’ were on 35 points from 16 league outings last season (2022-3). That’d be the next one you come to if we continued the above list. And it highlights just how great our start was 12 months ago. That tally from that number of games is comparable too with a 1985-6 campaign in which we’d claim the Vauxhall Opel League Division Two North title.

Now, our worst showings after 16 fixtures…


So, can you believe 2022-3 marked our best-ever return at this stage of a season since 1994? In isolation, it’s an impressive feat. But it’s all the more so when you realise that all three of the seasons before that generated our lowest points totals from 16 games. The only other to muscle in on this unimpressive act is the 2015-6 season, when Teddy Sheringham was gaffer.

Main photo: Jim Steele

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