Does a big player roster affect your clubs league position?

Bracknell Town celebrate. Photo: Neil Graham.
Bracknell Town celebrate. Photo: Neil Graham.

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A really interesting part of Mark Pugh’s interview this week with Paul McGrotty was when the Ascot United assistant spoke about his squad and the numbers of players used.

The natural inference is that a tight knit squad with the same players every week will ultimately provid success for a club and you can’t argue that Ascot’s success over the last five years has been down to a regular spine of players in their squad.

Ascot United FC manager Paul McGrotty.
Ascot United FC assistant manager Paul McGrotty.

However, we thought we’d use some maths and check it out for ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d agree with McGrotty that having a committed smaller group is ultimately what any club wants – but my quick bit of research shows it’s not the be all and end all.

Of the current top three in the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division (as of lunchtime on Friday 2nd December) current leaders Thatcham Town are down in 10th having used 30 players, second placed Thame United are joint top with 25 and third placed Flackwell Heath are in fourth with 27.

Here’s the table in full with each clubs current league position in the fourth column.

Team Games Players Used Current Position
Brimscombe & Thrupp 15 25 13
Lydney Town 17 25 11
Thame United 17 25 2
Flackwell Heath 19 27 3
Tuffley Rovers 18 27 6
Bracknell Town 16 28 4
Longlevens AFC 19 29 9
Oxford City Nomads 19 30 16
Royal Wootton Bassett Town 19 30 10
Thatcham Town 21 30 1
Ardley United 19 31 8
Brackley Town Saints 17 32 15
Highworth Town 18 32 5
Highmoor-IBIS 16 39 14
Henley Town 20 40 17
Binfield 19 42 7
Ascot United 19 50 12
Burnham 20 63 18

So you know – I’ve looked at ONLY Hellenic Premier League games and discounted anyone who was listed as an unused sub on the FA Full Time website.

What I learned?

Apart from running this data mid season with teams having played different numbers of games making it largely immaterial (it didn’t stop me writing the article though) we’d certainly say the numbers of players used matters more at the bottom than the top of the table.

In our table above Highmoor, Henley and Burnham all reside in the bottom five while Ascot and Binfield’s recent players changes and use of their youth and development teams appears to have knocked them further down.

In short, if you want to succeed at step five we reckon you want to use between 28 and 30 players in your league campaign – also it helps if they’re any good.

I’ll run the data again at the end of the season and see what comes out!

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