Holding Back The Year

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Vic Reeves as Mick Hucknall

Vic Reeves as Mick Hucknall

Christmas is a-coming. You can tell that by the way the weather has turned a relentless shade of cold, misty and damp. And the FA Cup Second Round, which is surely as much our gateway to the festive season as Balham is gateway to the south. But we’re not getting involved with all that gubbins this year, having liberated ourselves of our FA Cup duties in Round One for the second time in three years.

Losing to non-league Maidstone United is much more important than losing some form of prestige – it’s the fact that hundreds of men will be left exposed to the risk of having to go Christmas shopping this weekend. Free weekends are one of the worst issues affecting football right now, and we’re seeing no meaningful action from the FA. They’re too busy banning players for tweeting, after all…

With nothing much to do this weekend, we decided to have a look back at the year 2014 and see how, as a calendar year, it stacked up against past years. And if we’re honest, the findings weren’t great. But, then again, we knew this – we were relegated after all, and that does tend to suggest you haven’t been winning your games. Or drawing them. Or scoring goals. And only in a weird, backwards universe (a bit like Luton) is that good.

There are four games to go before we close, seal and archive the file ‘2014’. And the good news is that, in terms of points, it hasn’t been terrible. We’ve already taken 12 more points over the past 11 months than we did in the entirety of 2013. Then again, we saw out last year by conceding four and then conceding four again. Fourkin’ hell! In fact, we earned more points in the second half of 1980 than we did in 2013. It was that bad.

2014 then: We’ve played 42 games so far, winning 13 and losing 20. If you’ve done the maths already, you’ll know how many we’ve drawn. And in those 42 games, we’ve scored 51 and conceded 57 – that’s not the shabbiest record you’ll see in terms of goal difference, but the average of 1.21 goals per game isn’t cause for celebration. It’s quite frugal, like spending your meat coupons at Jack Jones the Butchers.

Our home record for 2014 has actually been bang average – 18th out of 35, or 19th if you count the statistical anomaly that is 1980. It’s away from home that we’ve struggled most in 2014. It seems obvious, maybe, but we’ve never had as bad a year on our travels as this one. Two victories and five draws in 19 on the road, and averaging 0.02 goals per game more than what is fast turning out to be the annus horribilis of 2013.

A win at either across the Bridge or over in ‘Nam will take us to 14 points on our 2014 travels – the same total we achieved in 1983. Two wins before the year is out and we take our points tally level with 2013; we need at least three points from six to bump the average above last year’s. And if they can get Apollo 13 back to earth, then anything and everything is a possibility. Do you believe in life after love?

So. What have we learned?

Well, this year hasn’t been great as we all know. And, technically, it could have been (and has been) worse. It’d take a hell of a nosedive for us to experience as bad an overall year as 2013 (statistically speaking) and the signs generally point towards 2015 being a much more fruitful year on all fronts. Have we learned anything else? That a free weekend is no fun and that we have nothing else to do… except Christmas blinkin’ shopping. Gah.

See you on the Welsh side of the Bridge. Do have your £6.40 ready.

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