Sunday, 9 June 2019

The Women's World Cup is off!

So the FIFA Women's World Cup in France has kicked off!  Our dice prediction South Korea fared very poorly in their first match against France who proved to be too wizzy for them.  Loads to look forward too, of course, including today's big England v Scotland match.  The BBC have a useful guide to their coverage and to the tournament in general here which might be useful!

So bookmark that link and get ready for some more soccer mad antics!

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

The Cricket World Cup Starts Tomorrow!

Time to get your pads on!  England is hosting the 12th Cricket World Cup, which starts at The Oval tomorrow at 10.30am with a match between England and South Africa.  Cricket's equivalent of football's biggest spectacle will involve the top ten 'Test' playing teams and culminate at Lord's on Sunday 14th July, with a structure somewhat different from the football version - all ten teams will play each other in the first round, before the top four teams go on into the semi-finals. England have hosted the Cricket World Cup four previous times - 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999, but have yet to lift the trophy themselves; famously they exited the competition in 1999 before the official single was released. Perhaps England will triumph this time? Compared to the soccer version, the tournament has been cheap to hold, as existing cricket stadiums have been used - the main case of boosterism in the tournament's history is the infamous 2007 edition in the West Indies, when a reported US$500m was spent constructing new stadiums and supporting infrastructure, but attendances suffered as supporters from the game's commercial heartlands in India and Pakistan found travelling to the Windward and Leeward Islands difficult, perhaps encouraging their teams' early exit from the competition (Majumdar, 2009)!

So why is this tournament of relevance to soccer-mad boffins?  Firstly, there are many historic links between the two sports.  Cricket, a sport favored by the English gentry, emerged as an organized sport a century (or more) before football, and many football clubs were founded to keep cricketers fit during the winter.  Cricket was a bastion of 'gentlemanly amateurism' (until 1973 professional players had to use a separate dressing room from amateurs) and this allowed for many players to play both sports, most notably perhaps C B Fry, who briefly played in the Football League for Southampton. This has become difficult more recently as both sports have professionalised, but many young players still try their hand in both disciplines - of relatively recent players Phil Neville of Manchester United fame played as an opening batsman for England under 15s.
Amateur cricket played on a village green

Secondly, the amateurism theme is one which is important for the history of Sport in Britain in general, and cricket tried to cling onto its amateurism to the extent that in many counties in the South of England eschewed the development of competitive league structures, as they were felt to encourage professionalism. The research of top cricket historian Duncan Stone on this topic is worth reading!  Cricket is still struggling to establish a viable institutional context for professionalization today, with ever shorter forms of the game being introduced, and new franchises complimenting or replacing the traditional county or state based structures around the world.  Though, there is a good commercial reason for this - if played in Test Cricket form, in which games are played over five days, the World Cup would probably take around three months to complete!

Thirdly, it has a link to 1966 - cricket, then a much more visible TV sport than today, cooperated with the English FA by suspending Test Matches for the whole of July 1966!

So, there are plenty of reasons to fish out your long wave radio and tune into the tournament!

Here is a visual guide to cricket for the uninitiated should any of the jargon above (and cricket has a lot of jargon) have you stumped!

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - predictions

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup almost upon us, we decided to repeat the fun of last year’s Men’s tournament and map out three scenarios: Kevin’s predictions, Alex’s predictions, and the predictions of a dice roll.

A quick explanation as to how the dice roll scores were calculated

-        If rolling a 1, 2, or 3 that’s the score,
-        If rolling 4 or 5 it counted as ‘nil’, and;
-        Rolling a 6 meant roll again and use whatever number comes up (so the upper limit of normal time is 6 goals but it is fairly unlikely to come up).

So what are the predictions?

As usual at the end of the Group Stage we will show all of our predictions and those of the dice vs the reality.  If we can find them, we will also try to compare with any algorithm type predictions as proposed by statisticians working for business consultancies and universities.

We cannot all get every prediction right, so we will then try to do another set of predictions based on who actually gets out of the Group Stages and as the knock-out rounds unfold.

But in the meantime we had a go at predicting the entire tournament…

Random Dice Rolls…

The dice interestingly predict England to get as far as the Round of 16 before losing 0 – 1 China

Scotland meanwhile are set to lose 1 – 0 to Jamaica in Quarter Finals using this method of prediction.

To get there, Jamaica will surprisingly beat USA 3 – 0 in the Round of 16, and eventually reach the final before losing to South Korea 10 – 9 after penalties

Winner: South Korea


Predicts England to finish in fourth place, losing 1-3 to Brazil in third place play-off.

Predicts Scotland to reach the Round of 16 where they lose 1-2 to Canada.

Hosts France are predicted to knock out the USA by 2-0 in the Quarter-Finals, and England 2-1 in the semi-finals, ultimately winning the tournament having beaten China 2-1 in a hard fought final.

Winner: France


England will finish in 4th place, ultimately losing 0-2 to a strong Japanese team whom he predicts will be the surprise package of the tournament, and will eventually finish 3rd in the world. 

To get there, Japan will graduate Group D in second place (pipping Scotland to the post – the Scots taking 3rd place in the Group and not progressing) then Holland 2-1 in the Round of 16.  A controversial 4-1 drubbing of Brasil sees them glide comfortably through the Quarter Finals before running out of steam 1-2 at the hands of Germany in the Semis.

Kevin believes the USA will knock-out another Womens’ soccer superpower China in the round of 16, (2-2 after normal time and then 7-6 to USA after penalties), then they will lose 2-3 to hosts France in the Quarter Finals.

Kevin predicts France to ultimately reach the final, where they will lose 0-2 to Germany.

Winner: Germany

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Readers of this blog might remember that in 2018 Soccer Mad Boffin Alex contributed to a book that was authored by ex-Seattle Sounders FC team captain Ade Webster.

Ade has been busy since then writing another book, with his friend and former team-mate Tony Chursky, the former goalkeeper of the Sounders as well as Canadian National Team.

It is a great book, well worth a read especially for anyone interested in the history of North American soccer and the NASL.

The authors will be donating proceeds from sales of the book to charities. 

The book is available to buy now as paperback or e-book:

More info: 

Tracing the arc of their 46-year friendship, Adrian Webster and Tony Chursky share the inspiring highs and the deflating lows of being professional soccer players in the early years of the Seattle Sounders in the North American Soccer League. Providing anecdotes and first-hand news accounts from the past, they demonstrate how their time together, both before and during the Sounders years, shaped the paths they chose after their careers came to a close. 

Sounders Together, Friends Forever is an uplifting book by Adrian Webster and Tony Chursky, two former Seattle Sounders. It traces the highs and lows of soccer, with a friendship lasting from the beginning of the professional game in North America, and follows two players with hopes and visions for their soccer careers, revealing all the hard work and sacrifices chasing their dream of playing against top players and elite teams of the early 1970’s. 

Dave Gillett - Original Seattle Sounder

Monday, 4 February 2019

Latest Paper Published in International Journal of the History of Sport

We are thrilled that our latest paper has been published by International Journal of the History of Sport.

Entitled 'Opportunities for all the Team: Entrepreneurship and the 1966 and 1994 Soccer World Cups', this paper does exactly what it says in the tin.

The International Journal of the History of Sport, yesterday

We apply swarm theory together with a framework of sports products to analyze the marketing and entrepreneurial 'products' associated with two financially successful FIFA World Cups in the second half of the 20th Century.

The 1966 edition of the tournament was famously hosted and won by England and spawned the trend for World Cup mascots, with 'World Cup Willie'. The 1994 tournament hosted by the USA took the commercialization of soccer to a new level. Both tournaments notably made use of existing stadia rather than the sorts of extensive new-build construction projects so often associated with sporting mega-events, and both also left observable legacies from a social and cultural perspective, as well as for sport.

We hope that you enjoy the paper, which is online now and will be part of a future Special Issue of the journal.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Appearance at York Researchers' Night

On Saturday 17th November we participated in the 'Yornight' York Researchers' Night hosted by University of York.

This was a completely free event, no booking neccessary, open to the public.

Here is a photo of us on our stall, which included info about our research, examples of archival materials and ephemera, and some fun activities for all of the family.

We received a great deal of interest in our work on the organisational and business management history of sport, and our research methods.

As well as the soccermadboffins there were many other exciting stalls, displays, demonstrations and public talks from across the university.

Thank you to all who attended.

A young sport fan has her photo taken with our display trophy

The key audience for Yornight is the general public with a particular focus on school students, and young people.

The main aims of YorNight are:
  • To encourage young people to consider research as a career, and particularly to inspire young girls and women
  • To demonstrate how research improves our daily lives in a range of ways, and provides economic and societal benefits
  • To show that research is varied and unexpected, and that being a researcher is interesting
  • To convey the message to the public that researchers are everywhere, not just in the most obvious places eg laboratories
More information from:

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Research Impact: Soccer Mad Boffin Contributes to Soccer Guide

Dr Alex Gillett has contributed to a new book by Adrian Webster (ex-Seattle Sounders FC and Colchester United FC).

Adrian wanted his coaching book to be different. This book shares his views and experiences of having been involved in the game as a player, coach and manager at youth, college and pro levels.

Adrian started to get involved in coaching when he first joined the Seattle Sounders in 1974, quickly discovering the importance of understanding the way that we learn, and that in coaching football is very much like teaching.

Alex contributed by providing advice on content and on the title of the book, to help with clarity of the text, which includes not just technical detail about playing and coaching, but also Adrian's personal reflections on his experiences as a player during the historically significant era of US soccer during the 1970s.  As an author with experience of writing published material on 20th century soccer history, Alex was well equipped to assist Ade in his 'goals' for this book!

A proportion of income from sales of the book will be donated to a childrens' cancer charity.

The book is available to buy now from amazon at a very accessible price: