We had our first home game of the season on Saturday. It was like finding a comfortable old sweater you'd misplaced for a few months.
We drew 1-1 against Derby, who were really quite poor. We dominated the first half, went a goal up from our promising new striker Nicky Maynard, then fell apart after the break and gave away a soft goal from a shocking defensive error by our best midfielder. Honestly, it was just like watching England.
So now we're seventh, with 4 points from six games. If I said that a last minute winner would have made us third while a last minute loser would have made us fifteenth, you can see how little placings mean so early on.
Paul Wilson, meanwhile, has been writing about Championship attendances. It's often said that the Championship, although only the second most popular football division in Britain, is the fourth most popular division in Europe. Wilson points out that this is only true if you judge it by total attendance, which is higher in the Championship because there's 24 teams playing 552 games, whereas other leagues have perhaps 20 teams playing 380 games. Measured by average attendance, it's only the eighth most popular division. Even the German second division comes higher.
Excuse me, but I said this months ago. Received wisdom in general is almost reliably wrong. Birmingham doesn't have more miles of canal than Venice. The Pope isn't 'special' somehow. The moon isn't about the same size as the sun. Neil Warnock isn't actually a warthog, he's something far, far worse.
The significance of attendance figures depends on what aspect of the game you're considering. So why might we be doing this? Not why are we asking pointless questions about numbers? - wash your mouth out with saline solution for ever saying such a thing. No I'm asking what pointless questions exactly are we trying to answer from our data?
So let's consider the options. If we're wondering how big it 'feels' to be at a game, then obviously average attendance is the crucial factor. But if you're wondering how much money teams can afford to spend on players, then total attendance across the whole season (and ticket price) is the name of the game. That's why clubs play meaningless friendlies at the beginning of each season. They have to give the teams a runout anyway, so they might as well extract some revenue from it. And it's why baseball can support such huge salaries on such cheap tickets. If players play 162 games a season, their cost per game is almost reasonable.
If you're asking how football-mad a place is, then you have to ask what percentage of the population go to the games. By that measure, there can't be many leagues to compete with the Championship. Take Sheffield. About 9% of the population of Sheffield went to United or Wednesday's first home game. Bristol doesn't quite match that, but you can't expect people in East Bristol to have to go and watch Rovers. There is such a thing as cruel and unusual.
Meanwhile, City have drawn Crewe away in the next round of the Carling Cup. Nicky Maynard's old club. Should be fun.
And after my previous post, my ads have gone all soapy. Lotion pump, soap foam pump, liquid hand soap, foamy delights, soft creamy unction, soapy tit wank ... actually I may have made a few of those up. Frankly, I get quite enough of that kind of thing in the junk mail.