The first 10 games – a warning from previous history by Tim Priestley

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Firstly an admission. I am no statto and failed my GCSE in maths at the first attempt in 1988. Passing it later that year was a mammoth struggle. In recent years I have taught maths to a younger audience at primary school and very much felt a fraud.

Anyway, the confessions are over Father. I am currently an excited Imp fan and cannot recall such feelings for many a year. We sit proudly on top of League Two, bearing down on near neighbours such as Grimsby (I won’t mention them again), Notts C. and Mansfield. We are 10 games through the season and I have watched us play four times now. Like many of you, I am struggling to contain myself and my hopes are raised by opposition managers such as Michael Duff stating that we should end up champions. We continuously have crowds of 9000+ at the Bank which the vast majority of teams in League One would be proud of.

We have a management the team the envy of all and a squad which is stronger than Boris Johnson’s waist band on his running shorts. Our current haul of 25 points means that we average 2.50 points a game. If we continue with this trend, we will end up with 115 points. To put that into perspective, no team has had to achieve more than 99 points in the last 10 years to be L2 Champions. What a time to be an Imp! The others may as well give up now and hand us the trophy. But…

We all want scenes like this again

I decided to look into the recent history of L2 since the 2008-09 season and certain realities came home to roost. The first point to make is that only 3 teams that were on top after 10 league games went on to be champions. These teams were Gillingham (2012-13), Chesterfield (2013-14) and Burton Albion (2014-15). Amazingly, Gillingham had the same points tally after 10 games as Lincoln and only needed 83 in total to be champions. This is the lowest total needed in the last 10 years. Chesterfield followed closely behind with 84 points the next year (22 points after 10 games). That leaves 7 seasons when the leaders after 10 games faltered…

Let us look at last season. Of course, Accrington were the eventual champions (93 points) but the leaders after 10 games were Notts County (25 points – the same as us presently). County went on to finish 5th and floundered in the play-offs. Look at the Magpies now after a tumultuous start to the season. The season before, Plymouth were on top after 10 games and lost out to their neighbours Portsmouth on goal difference to the title. In 2015-16, Wycombe were on top with 21 points and ended up finishing 13th. Morecambe were 10-game kings with 20 points and ended up finishing 15th after only accumulating another 36 points. One significant season was 2009-10 when a certain team from the South coast was on top at the start of October with 24 points. Bournemouth went on to finish runners-up behind Notts County with 83 points.

Of course, stats can be looked at and interpreted in many ways. For example, history hasn’t exactly been kind to the early leaders although six of them have gone on to automatic promotion. We could say that only another 74 points are needed from the remaining 36 games to match the highest points total needed since 2008-09 to be Champions. That is 2.05 (or 2.1 rounded up to the 1st decimal point) points per game which we are already exceeding handsomely. The pessimists (or perhaps realists) will point out the we will have injuries, go on a losing streak, maybe even lose our coveted management duo.

The key point is, who knows? I hate maths…

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