Martin Dowey’s weekly column: Statistics point towards Boro promotion

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AS it has been said so many times in the past, statistics are something that can be used to say anything you want them to.

Statistics are heavily relied on at the top level of football, Andy Gray was a big fan before he opted for a career change.

They also feature as far down the pyramid as the NCEL Premier.

Bridlington Town’s manager Mitch Cook is a big advocate of statistics, as he tracks the pass completion of each of his midfield players to keep on top of where things are going wrong or right.

I have been busy digging around prior to this column, taking a look at Scarborough Athletic’s past campaigns and the statistics they have had up to this point of their previous NCEL Premier seasons.

For the past two campaigns the team that has been top at this stage has gone onto win the league, but I really don’t suppose that means too much.

In 2009, Boro were lying second at the mid-point of November, having played 18 games and amassing 37 points at an average of 2.05 per match.

Brid were top on goal difference, but they had played 15, while Rudy Funk’s Rainworth were third, also equal on points.

Things were a little more cut and dried last season, with the impressive Farsley side powering clear, Boro were nowhere to be seen in 13th place.

During the current campaign Boro are averaging 2.13 points per match in third behind Retford and Brid, who have both played more games.

This is the best start Athletic have made to a premier division campaign, but to coin a popular phrase, it is a marathon and not a sprint.

Having spoken to Boro manager Rudy Funk about the side he has at the moment and the Rainworth side, who he led to promotion in 2009-2010, he talks very highly of both.

He underlines that his Rainworth team had the battling qualities that are so key at this level, but Boro have the quality.

It all comes down to what makes the difference in this league, which of these things is more important.

I watched Farsley a few times last season and they had bags and bags of quality. Going forward they just ripped through teams at will - especially Boro on a chilly evening in March.

At the back they were organised and solid, so they didn’t really need to battle after a few blips early in the season.

They ended up winning the league at a canter with a run of 13 wins from their last 14 games.

This term, when Boro have everyone fit and firing on all cylinders, they do have plenty of quality themselves.

The fact that Ryan Blott and Paddy Miller have both committed to the cause this season will come as a massive boost to Rudy and his coaching staff.

There are many strikers about at this level, but Ryan clearly has to be one of the best.

During my trips down to the old Athletic Ground in the Conference days, he was hailed by the coaches as the best finisher at the club, despite the fact I only ever saw him wandering round the corridors eating toast.

During that time, Scarborough FC had the likes of Mark Quayle, Brian Wake, David McNiven and a young Michael Coulson on their books, so he can’t have been doing that badly.

Paddy meanwhile, is a player that has come into his own this season on the left.

He just seems capable of playing anywhere down that side of the park.

We have seen him impressing at full-back, but then on Saturday at Selby, he created just about every goal with his raiding, quick feet and superb delivery.

If I’m honest, I was a bit surprised to see Paddy back at the start of the season because in his first spell, for me, he didn’t set the world on fire.

There is a lot to be said for playing in a good team and playing with good players because that touch-paper has been lit this season and sides from above are taking note.

There is a long way to go and we have to fight our way through the next few months that usually turn NCEL games into scrappy affairs on ploughed fields.

We’ll know more in April though and it will be interesting to see which of the local clubs are still battling to take on Whitby Town in the Evo-Stik first division north next season.