Fascinating facts: fixture backlogs

Royce Franklin, a life member of the Association of Football Statisticians, digs up yet more fascinating facts about football.

MANAGERS OF teams in the top four divisions of the English game frequently moan about the number of fixtures their teams have to play over a short period.

After the Second World War not all teams in the two third divisions  – north and south – were full time yet the number of fixtures they had to fulfil within a short space of time could be very demanding . At Easter, for instance, there were games on Good Friday followed by Easter Saturday and Easter Monday – three matches in four days.

Spare a thought also for Guernsey Football Club this last season. The club was formed as recently as 2011 ‘to offer the Island’s elite footballers the opportunity to test themselves on a regular basis outside the Channel Islands.’

Last season Guernsey were members of the Combined Central League Premier Division, in effect division nine in the English football pyramid.  With 22 clubs, it involved 42 games.

The club reached the last four of the FA Vase. In the two legged semi-final they played Spennymoor, County Durham, in the quarter final they were away to a team from Walsall, West Midlands and in the previous round away to Spalding, Lincolnshire.

Their cup exploits, coupled with the unusually adverse weather conditions for the Channel Islands, led to 20 unfulfilled fixtures at the beginning of April.  Remember we are referring part-time players who also have to fly to the mainland to complete away fixtures.

For the home first leg of the semi-final of the FA Vase, the club had a gate of 4,290.  Guernsey’s population is 62,915.  This represented nearly seven-per-cent of all islanders going to the game.

Seven of the last 20 games were away – three in Surrey and one apiece in Middlesex, London, Sussex and Hampshire.  They even played four home games on consecutive days at the beginning of May.

In the circumstances, Guernsey can be proud of finishing second in their league. Perhaps some of our more illustrious team managers should look elsewhere before moaning about fixture congestion.

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