This is one for the hard core anoraks only. I’m currently reading Jonathan Wilson’s ‘The Anatomy of England’, in which he claims that Charles Reep, the prototype football analyst who, as the main tactical proponent of the long ball game, was deeply controversial in the ’70’s and ”80’s and for a long time one of the most influential figures in the English game, once worked for Brentford at some point prior to the mid ’50’s. Frustratingly he doesn’t say exactly when, but does say that it was a successful spell. I’ve never been aware of a connection before, but it makes me wonder; was the arch hate figure of technical sophisticates everywhere behind our glory years in the 1930’s? Does anybody have any more information on this?
Brentford 4 Life linked to my post on Charles Reep and as a result I edited my original post about Charles Reep and Brentford. It now reads:
The following season 1950-51 saw Charles’ first involvement with a football league team. Brentford were having a difficult time and were fourth from bottom of the Second Division (corrected 21 June 2012). Charles was introduced to the club by a friend in the RAF and provided analysis of games as well as suggesting how to play attacking football. He recalls that Brentford subsequently won thirteen of their last fourteen matches. Their only defeat was when the manager decided to rely on defence against Tom Finney’s Preston North End team. Brentford lost 3-0 and this proved an informative lesson for Charles about attacking systems. By having a ‘deviant case’ he was able to check his data against this case. (Note: the record of Brentford’s season can be found here which indicates that Brentford lost 2-4 to Preston, Brentford lost three games in their last sixteen games of the season. For a discussion about Brentford see this Forum Thread.)
In editing the post I started thinking about the games Charles was involved in at Brentford.
On 11 November 1950, Brentford lost 2-7 to Grimsby and were third from bottom of the League. What made matters worse was that Grimbsy was second from bottom.
Stockport County knocked Brentford out of the FA Cup on 6 January 1951.
I am not sure of the exact date that Charles started analysing Brentford games, but from 13 January to 5 May the team lost 4 games out of 17 played. Two of these were losses to teams above them in the League (Preston and Sheffield United) and two to lower ranked teams (Swansea and Southampton).
The results of the 17 games were posted by Wanderer Paul:
Swansea 2 – 1 Brentford
Brentford 2 – 1 Hull
QPR 1 – 1 Brentford
Doncaster 0 – 3 Brentford
Brentford 4 – 0 Bury
Brentford 2 – 4 Preston
Coventry 3 – 3 Brentford
Brentford 2 – 0 Man City
Brentford 4 – 0 Cardiff
Brentford 3 – 1 Sheff Utd
Notts Co 2 – 3 Brentford
Sheff Utd 5 – 1 Brentford
Brentford 5 – 1 Grimsby
Leicester 1 – 2 Brentford
Brentford 4 – 0 Chesterfield
Birmingham 1 – 1 Brentford
Southampton 2 – 1 Brentford
It is interesting that Brentford scored in every game. In the sequence of games Brentford reversed the earlier Grimbsy result with a 5-1 victory.
I am grateful to the contributors to the Griffin Park Grapevine for prompting this reflection. I think it raises an interesting historical issue about how we research performance change.
I have written about Neil Lanham‘s work on this blog too. I wonder if Neil has some data about performance change from his analysis of performance at Wimbledon and Watford.
Wales versus Ireland football international at Wrexham