Clarifying Neil Lanham's Role As Analyst

News of Graham Taylor’s death and the sharing of his football story have revisited his coaching methods and tactical acumen.
Greg Johnson’s account of Graham’s pragmatism includes this observation:

At Watford, he employed Charles Hughes as a consultant who, along with Charles Reep – a former Wing Commander in the RAF – was one of the first to try and devise a formal, data-driven approach to analysing football. The conclusions they reached were flawed – since most of the goals scored in the matches they studied appeared to be preceded by three or fewer passes, they believed that they had stumbled upon an essential truth that could be exploited through long ball tactics.

Someone who knows a great deal about Graham’s game understanding is Neil Lanham.
In personal correspondence, Neil points out that at Watford:

It was Charles Hughes who was curious about what Taylor was doing at Watford and the mechanics behind it … Under Charles Reep’s guidance, my colleague Simon Hartley was Taylor’s then analyst …

When Graham was England Manager:

I was the sole analyst working for Graham Taylor … putting every touch of the ball through my bespoke software … 
An extract from a letter to Neil lanham from Graham Taylor
Extract from a letter written to Neil Lanham, 22 May 1992.

Neil worked as an analyst with Dave Bassett at Wimbledon too (The Crazy Gang, 2015:186).
A quote from the Crazy Gang biography
Ultimately, Neil’s database of match analysis comprises of 5,000 games. 
I have compiled some information about Neil’s work in this Google Doc.
I am hopeful that Neil’s perspective assists our understanding of what was happening at a formative time in the use of permanent records of football performance. Dave Bassett and Wally Downes (2015) give a feel for Neil’s work in a supportive environment:



  1. Hi Keith, I found your blog by chance, which is perhaps appropriate! I would very much like to read the Neil Lanham papers you mention in your Google doc, particularly the 2005 one, but the links take me to partially redacted versions. Do you have, or do you know where I can get, them without having to track down and buy the whole books? Most of the rest of those books would probably be unnecessary to me. If you can help, I would be very grateful. If you cannot, thank you anyway for an interesting series of posts on Neil, Graham Taylor, Charles Reep and others.


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