ASK STATMAN

Posted on: Fri 10 Oct 2008

The players are away and it's over a week until the next Chelsea game but the club's official statistician, Paul Dutton, is here to help fill the gap with another statistical surgery.


I am going to begin this time by celebrating Chelsea's current top-of-the-table spot with a question on league positions down the years.

Gavin Markwick emailed in to ask what is Chelsea's average league position over the time since the club was formed in 1905.

Gavin speculates that recent high finishes would only cancel out some of our relegated years and that although on average we are a top-flight team, our mean position would be some way below mid-table, hovering just above the drop zone.

He's not far off the mark. Counting down from the top, regardless of division (so that finishing top of the old Second Division is marked down as a 23rd place finish; fourth in that division is 26th etc, Chelsea's average finish over our 92 completed seasons is 14th - so safely top flight, but we are most certainly exceeding our standard in the past decade!

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Anyone with an aversion to Dutch football should look away now as I am about to briefly turn Ask Statman into a Johann Cruyff special.

The catalyst is a question from Alex Callegari in Australia who has a recollection of seeing a Rest of the World Team play at the Bridge around 1980 with the Dutch legend in the side.

I can confirm there was a testimonial for Chelsea defender John Dempsey against an International XI with Chelsea winning the game 5-3 although Cruyff didn't play that evening.

The opposition that day included Eusebio and Pat Jennings but maybe the international tag referred to capped rather than overseas players as Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, Frank Worthington, Malcolm McDonald and Alan Ball gave it a rather English flavour.

The Chelsea scorers were Mike Fillery, Clive Walker with two, Gary Johnson and Jimmy Clare with the game taking place in February 1980.

Cruyff did play however for LA Aztecs at the Bridge that same season - in October 1979 with Chelsea winning 2-0.

Previously, in September 1978, he played for New York Cosmos in an exhibition match that at drew just under 40,000 to the Bridge, Franz Beckenbauer part of the attraction for a game in which our new assistant Ray Wilkins played for Chelsea. What stands out on that occasion are the crowds for the home league fixtures either side of the match - under 29,000 for a visit by Man City before and just over 20,000 turning up afterwards for a game against West Brom. North American soccer was briefly big box office back then.

For the sake of Cruyff completeness, I should mention a game covered in a previous Ask Statman - the visit by Dutch club Drecht Steden for a friendly played on 14 January 1981.

Guest players for the visitors were Cruyff (pictured below) and his fellow World Cup finalist, Robbie Rensenbrink, both by then aged 33.

Chelsea won 4-2 with Walker again among the goals. With all these visits, it's no wonder the newspapers at one stage were running Cruyff for Chelsea stories.

Johann Cruyff

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Time now to deal with some emails sent to me following-up on answers in the last Ask Statman.

The topic of games postponed shortly before kick-off has begun a discussion with a couple of people raising a match against Aston Villa a decade ago when torrential rain won the day with thousands of fans already in the ground or local pubs.

Firstly, I must make it clear that the matches mentioned last time were a selection of occasions when wind caused a postponement. It wasn't intended as a comprehensive list off all call-offs.

The match recalled by both Phil Roantree and Phil Ball was on Halloween 1998 when waterlogging (pictured top) saw the game scuppered an hour before the 3pm kick-off, although the Chelsea staff were surprised by the verdict.

The good news is we won the rearranged game against John Gregory's high-flying Villa thanks to a late Flo (pictured below) goal.

Tore takes on the Villa

Harald de Boer from the Netherlands had his memory jogged about an evening game versus Southampton when he travelled over but missed out due to rain.

I too remember this one well as I was in what was then Drake's Bar at the Bridge when it was called off, London SW6 having been hit by something akin to a tropical storm despite it being February 1995. It briefly turned the pitch into a lake.

Julian Howard, now over in Beiruit, takes a slightly different angle and asks for a list of abandoned Chelsea games, that's those called-off after they had started.

He attended a midweek cup tie against Norwich at Carrow Road in the 70s where fog struck.

That match is one of only four I can find recorded.

The first was in our fourth season, a match away at Bury in January 1909 which was abandoned when the score was 4-1 to Bury; the cause was also fog. Chelsea lost the rearranged game 2-1.

In December 1935 we were losing 2-1 to Portsmouth at home. This time it played into our hands as the second game was won 1-0. However for this game I can't uncover the reason for the abandonment. Any suggestions?

Game three is a famous one from January 1969 when Chelsea were beating Preston 2-0 in a home FA Cup replay when the floodlights failed.

Unable to be repaired on the night, a new game was set for a midweek afternoon when two goals in the closing minutes took Chelsea through 2-1. An impressive 36,522 turned up. How many lost jobs for doing so?

Then it is on to Julian's game which was in December 1972 at Carrow Road. Chelsea were losing 3-2 when the fog became too dense. There was no salvaging this League Cup semi final on the new date, a single goal enough for the Canaries to go through comfortably on aggregate.

Perhaps I should also mention a match that many believe should have been abandoned but wasn't, including then manager Ruud Gullit, when a blizzard hit at half-time in Tromso in 1997.

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I've explained in previous Ask Statmans that I have not had space to immediately deal with every question sent in so now I want to return to one from the close season from Mike Burrows of Wales.

Mike backs up his area of interest with some impressively extensive research of his own, calculating the combined career international caps earned by last season's squad, pointing out that at over 1,100 caps in total, it had broken the previous season's tally and might be a club record.

The exact departure dates of Hernan Crespo last season and Magnus Hedman the season before were grey areas for Mike.

With reference to the international round-up for 2007/08, I can confirm that a mighty total of 1,146 caps had been amassed by last year's squad over the duration of their careers, including Crespo and Phil Younghusband who were officially Chelsea players until June 30.

This total was greater than the previous season's 974, which included Hedman, the Swede having come out of retirement in November 2006 as cover until the end of the campaign following Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini's head injuries at Reading.

On a separate note, Mike also queried a previously-quoted maximum number of games Chelsea could play in a season of 67, or 68 if contesting the Community Shield.

I agree with these figures, highlighting the fact there are no replays in FA Cup semi-finals or any cup finals.

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I'll follow that long answer with a short one. Ken Whelton asks for some stats about the goal ratio for each end of the pitch - i.e. Shed End v Matthew Harding End. His feeling is we score more goals at the Matthew Harding end.

Well Ken, you were certainly correct last season when the ratio was 60:40 in favour of the Matthew Harding.

However, looking at the 12 goals scored at home so far this season, it currently stands at 67:33 in favour of the Shed.

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Statistics relating to games played on supporters' birthdays is a recurring theme and Bob Turner has a link between his birthday and two major European nights.

May 21st was the date of Moscow last season and the Cup Winners' Cup replay win over Real Madrid in 1971, a game Bob was at.

He also recalls a famous promotion-winning 7-0 league victory over Portsmouth in 1963, the season having dragged on after the 'big freeze' winter. He asks have Chelsea played any other games on this notable date.

The answer is only friendlies - three to be precise - in Iran in 1973, in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1964, and going back even further, in Baltimore in the United States in 1954.

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Family favourites now as a request has fallen my way from V Fascione who is asking for some stats on his older brother, Joe, a Chelsea player from the 1960s.

Joe Fascione joined as an apprentice in 1962 having signed from Scottish junior side Kirkintillock Rob Roy. He became a pro later that year and made his debut in 1964. He started 27 games with a further seven sub appearances, scoring one goal.

A winger, he was mainly an understudy to Bert Murray and Charlie Cooke and left in the summer on 1969 for Durham City.

Joe's brother recalls that the best game was against Chelsea's forthcoming Champions League opponents Roma, a night we won 4-1 at the Bridge in September 1965.

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Mark Thomson has asked for some hard numbers - the breakdown of results in each competition under José Mourinho.

I'm happy to oblige.

Pld

W

D

L

F

A

League

120

85

25

10

215

67

Champions League

33

16

9

8

48

27

FA Cup

16

12

2

2

38

14

League Cup

13

10

3

0

25

7

Community Shield

3

1

1

1

4

4

Overall

185

124

40

21

330

119

Two of the games recorded as draws were lost on a penalty shoot out - one League Cup and one Community Shield.

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I'll deal with the next couple together as they hark back to the same era.

Danny enquires about the last time three first-half goals were conceded at the Bridge prior to 2007's FA Cup game against Spurs.

The answer is another FA Cup match, this time against Man United on 4th Jan 1998 when our run as cup holders was short-lived, losing a third round tie 5-3 having been 3-0 down at the break. David Beckham and Andy Cole both scored two for the visitors with Teddy Sheringham also on-target. A Graeme Le Saux goal and a pair from Luca Vialli were the Chelsea consolation.

Season ticket holder Bob Atkin asked about a notable occasion in English football history, wondering if I could find a Premier League game Chelsea have played with a team made up totally of overseas players.

Against Southampton away on Boxing Day 1999, we became the first team in the country to begin with 11 from outside UK shores (pictured below), the team being:

De Goey (Netherlands), Ferrer (Spain) , Thome (Brazil), Leboeuf (France), Babayaro (Nigeria); Petrescu (Romania), Di Matteo (Italy), Deschamps (France), Ambrosetti (Italy), Flo (Norway), Poyet (capt) (Uruguay).

Tore Andre Flo netted twice as we won 2-1. Jon Harley and Jody Morris were second-half substitutes to add some John Bull to the side.

The foreign legion

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The 5-3 score mentioned above was goal-laden but it was nothing compared with a match Noel Molloy believes he saw on TV when just eight-years-old.

He wanted it confirmed that he hadn't imagined a 5-5 between West Ham and Chelsea in 1966 - and indeed Noel you hadn't. The game took place at the Bridge just before Christmas and featured two Bobby Tambling goals, plus Charlie Cooke, Tommy Baldwin and Tony Hateley also on the scoresheet. The West Ham defence that shipped five contained recent World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore.

Noel also wanted some info on a friendly game - Wealdstone v Chelsea - towards the end of that decade.

The match remembered was a reserve pre-season friendly in August 1968, which Chelsea won 3-0: scorers Ian Hutchinson, Chico Hamilton, and David Bibby.

The team included Tommy Hughes in goal, Ken Shellito, Tony Potrac, Allan Young, a young Alan Hudson and Barry Lloyd.

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David Roberts has asked for reassurance that a fact he read on Wikipedia is incorrect - that the largest single attendance for a football match in England was over

98,000 for Chelsea v Crawley Town in 1948.

I can safely say it is not true and indeed the 'fact' isn't in the Wikipedia article anymore - which is a good warning about that particular source.

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With Frank Lampard hoping to take his Chelsea form into the weekend internationals, it's appropriately topical to end with a question on our England midfielder.

Bagus Ikonen and a correspondent known simply as Gregg both wish for a breakdown on his complete record from the penalty spot. Bagus wants that extended it to Michael Ballack.

Unfortunately, my records don't extend to give stats on these players' performance before they joined Chelsea but Lampard for England has scored two normal penalties out of two plus one shoot-out penalty scored and one missed, that's the one against Portugal in the World Cup.

For Chelsea he has scored 22 from 24 plus three from four in shoot-outs.

Lampard penalty

Ballack for Chelsea has three from three and one from one in shoot-outs. While at Chelsea, he has not taken any normal penalties for Germany but has scored once in a shoot-out.

And there I'll stop with a request for patience if you have yet to have your query answered and thanks to anyone who has sent one to statman@chelseafc.com

Please keep them coming.