A graphical display of a football game played in Delft


Jurryt van de Vooren has unearthed a notation from a game of football played between Delfia Hollandia Combinatie (DHC) and Goudse Sportvereniging (GSV). The record indicates that this was a promotion game (promotie-wedstrijd).

The Delpher newspaper archive has a digital copy of the notation. This was published on 2 May 1932 in the Delftsche Courant. There is a match report too (Een narrow escape) for the game played on 1 May 1932.

In Dutch, the title of the notation is: De verplaasting van den bal is grafisch weergegeven in de lengterichting van het veld.

I wondered if this might be the appropriate translation: The ball displacement is graphically displayed in the longitudinal direction of the field.

The Notation

The displacement is notated with the help of nine symbols.

First half

Second half

The notation has a time reference for each possession in the game. The time is set in blocks of five minutes with single minutes marked within each five-minute block.

I wondered if the accuracy of timing used some of the chronographs available at that time. This is one from Longines in 1929:

I wondered too where the analyst sat during the game. There appeared to be a big crowd there.

Match Report

Both teams are listed in the report in their 2-3-5 formations. One of the DHC players, Joop van Nellen (1910-1992) played for the Netherlands in twenty-seven international fixtures. He made his debut in December 1928, aged 18, and played his last game (against Belgium) in February 1937. He won his first twelve caps while playing for Delft at the second level of Dutch football.

Gouda won the toss and chose to play with the sun and wind at their backs.

Gouda scored first in the 13th minute. It took forty minutes for Delft to equalise. One minute later Delft took the lead. A goal in the 89th minute gave Delft a 3v1 win.

Pattern of Play

Delft were the home team and appeared to control the game for large parts of the notation.

Gouda’s goal looks like a very efficient counterattack:

After losing the lead in the second half, Gouda have an intense five minutes working to get back into the game (and have one shot in this time):

Delft control the final quarter of the game. Their goalkeeper is involved only once in this time. The game ends with Gouda on the attack after conceding a third goal.

A Case Study

I think this notation, one of the earliest in association football, would make for a fascinating discussion in performance analysis classes that spend some time considering real-time and lapsed-time hand notation.

There is sufficient detail for us to construct a narrative of the game.

It would be a great project to annotate a present-day game in the same way. There is, for example, just one formally noted stoppage in play in the entire game (14th minute of the first half). Time added on by the referee is 2 minutes in the first half and approximately 90 seconds in the second half. What has changed in the game in nine decades?

Photo Credits

DHC in action (Delftsche Courant, 2 May 1932)

Notations (Delftsche Courant, 2 May 1932)

A game of football … from 1932

Jurryt van de Vooren is pushing back the historical record of the notational analysis of football.

His latest discovery was for a game played in Delft on 1 May 1932.

It is a record of a game between Delfia Hollandia Combinatie (DHC) and Goudse Sportvereniging (GSV).

My research indicates that this was an amateur game of football but I will need to check this with Jurryt. It is an excellent possession map that indicates where each possession ends in each half of the game.

I will return to this notation as soon as possible but I am keen to share Jurryt’s discovery. One line of enquiry I will follow now is whether Charles Reep’s and Neil Lanham’s notations used a similar approach in their early days of recording games.

The 1932 game notation has a record of where possession was won and lost as well as a time (within 1 minute) stamp by each half of the game.

For a more recent discussion see this Clyde Street post.

Mr Ted Higgs

The Murray Cods after the Olympic Test Race 1924

I was introduced to Mr Edmund (Ted) Higgs in a Trove newspaper reference from The Mail (Adelaide) on 19 May 1923. I found my way there thanks to Robin Poke‘s research on Australian rowing between the Wars.

Mr Higgs was interviewed about the successes of the Murray Bridge crew. Asked what was the secret of the crew’s success, he  said “I put it down as a combination of practice and theory” and added “the experts will have to watch us more closely before the mystery is solved”.

The story of Murray Bridge’s success over a decade is a great story about coaching and the connection a coach made with crews of rowers.

In 2011, Wayne Groom and Carolyn Bilsborow started to research the story of Murray Bridge Rowing Club as the subject of a documentary of “the great untold story of Australia’s sporting history”.  Their research and the documentary were completed in 2016 under the title Paris or the Bush. Wayne noted at the launch of the documentary:

It is the classic Cinderella story of a crew with no money, no boats and no clubhouse versus wealthy, privileged, city teams.

I was particularly interested in Ted’s role in this story.

The Mail article from 1923 had prompted me to reflect on what insights a coach has to transform a group into a team. In 1913 the crew won the national championships by a quarter of a mile in a three-mile race in very difficult conditions with “superior watermanship”.

Ted had learned about rowing on the Mersey River in Tasmania and had steered his first boat at the age of 10. The Mail article provides some detailed information about Ted that is extended in a more recent post by Geoff Smedley (2013).

Ted coached at Murray Bridge for 40 years and was still rowing himself as a 73 year old in 1953. A Standard article from 15 April 1953 reported:

In 1912-13 a club maiden crew won the champion eights of Australia, and then the interstate championship. In 1920, Murray Bridge won the first King’s Cup, rowed in Brisbane. In 1922 in Sydney it won again, and next year in Perth it retained the title. The crowning triumph the same year when it when it won the right to represent Australia at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.

I thought the documentary Paris or the Bush was a Chariots of Fire story worthy of much wider consideration, particularly in conversations about coaching and coaches’ learning journeys.

I liked the Mail’s description of him:

… he has the far-seeing grey eyes typical of a sportsman accustomed to long distances and accurate judgement.

He talks concisely, yet graphically, like the rower who makes a clean, spectacular stroke.

Ted is pictured below in his club blazer, standing next to the Governor of South Australia.

Tedd Higgs the coach with the Governor of South Australia

This video is a very powerful look back at what Ted and his crews achieved. It is a short (2m 26s) video of descendants of the 1924 crew being shown footage of the crew rowing in Ireland in 1924.

The documentary contains the wonderful story of one of the crew members, Wally Pfeiffer and his crew members’ support for him. It shares an ageless story of values and ethical behaviour and is, I think, as relevant today as it was in 1924.

I am just starting my research about him but am already fascinated by his connections with current coaching issues. He understood his sport, developed a training regime to embed his technical insights in muscle memory and set a standard that his contemporary coaches found difficult to overcome.

Photo Credits

The Murray Cods (The Murray Valley Standard, 3 March 2014)