The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Cold, hard stats

24 May 2018

Devon Diary writes: The other day, following the news that the club had agreed a new three-year contract with James McKeown, Pádraig Amond chipped in about the value of retaining key players. He was responding to a fan insinuating that he might be bitter about it, but I think a lot of us would agree that Podge was exactly the kind of player we should have held on to; not because of his length of service, or that he was an upright member of the community, but simply for the goals.

The goals. You can't win a game without 'em – and Town's meagre return of 42 goals in 46 league games (only Morecambe managed fewer with 41) was the most significant factor in the team's struggles over the 2017-18 season.

There are, of course, many points of view as to why Town failed to offer Amond the two-year contract he was looking for after promotion was secured in 2016. These can be distilled down into two camps.

The first camp believes Podge was seen as a flat-track bully, who could score for fun against Conference cannon-fodder, but would struggle against full-time professionals every week once Town had returned to the League. Adherents to this position believe Hursty essentially messed it up by not rating him highly enough.

In the second camp, the blame lies mostly with the directors, who wouldn't offer the player a two-year contract after he declined one in the new year.

Either way, Town could probably have brought Amond back last summer – by which time his goalscoring credentials in the fourth tier were proven beyond doubt – but when asked why we didn't, our then manager Russell Slade suggested we could do better. Let's look at that, shall we? 

Since Amond left to go to Hartlepool, Town have signed 15 more strikers. Their statistics tell a remarkable story. Between them, in all competitions over the past two seasons, these 15 strikers have notched 38 goals.* This is only one goal more than Podge scored on his own in just one season.

Now I know he probably wouldn't have scored 37 goals for us in 2016-17 but since leaving us, Amond has gone on to find the net 29 times (three of them against us).

Podge wanted a two-year deal with Town, which Town weren't willing to offer. By my reckoning, for the cost of one additional year we have shelled out on roughly 13 years' worth of contracts and 5+ years of loan deals between those 15 replacements. There's probably some analogy I could use here about a bloke digging a hole in ten hours being replaced by ten blokes with only one shovel. 

Maybe you've looked at the stats before and shrugged, or been angry and got over it, but this must go down as one of the biggest fuck-ups our club has ever made.

But let's hope we've turned the corner. Let's hope that the Macca contract is a sign that Michael Jolley knows the value of a happy player already at the club. Let's hope that we don't lose another Amond, Pearson or Dizza so cheaply. UTM and all that.

*In a break from CA tradition/rules I am including the Checkatrade Trophy in 'all competitions'. This data also includes Sam Jones, because we played him as a striker despite him really being an attacking midfielder.