Taylor Made: a BBC football version of This is Your Life

Bill Taylor gets lost in stats
Bill Taylor gets lost in stats

Bill Taylor came across a nifty new BBC tool allowing fans of all Premier League teams to calculate their clubs’ performance during their lifetimes. Fellow Sunderland supporters – and others – are invited to have a go and report back any interesting findings …

There’s no evidence to support this, but George Santayana, the Spanish/American writer and philosopher, COULD have been at Wembley in 1937 to see Sunderland clobber Preston North End 3-1 in the FA Cup. Santayana was certainly in Europe at the time.

And the saying he’s most famous for could well be applied to the Black Cats and their long-suffering fans: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

For those of us who have trouble remembering what happened last week, let alone a few decades ago, the BBC’s football website has unveiled a magical new tool to jog our memories.

I say “magical” because, to these aging, techno-blind eyes, that’s what it is. To throw in another quotation, from the science-fiction writer and visionary Arthur C Clarke, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

Be that as it may, if you visit http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/my-premier-league-life, all will be revealed, probably in more detail than you can absorb.

You enter the name of your team and your date of birth and up comes every club statistic you can dream of that’s happened in your lifetime.

I was born on March 5, 1948 (you missed my last birthday but you might want to mark it on the calendar). The very next day, I learn, ManU beat Sunderland 3-1. My personal history gets off to a dodgy start…

And goes from bad to worse. The BBC feels it necessary to point out that on the “milestone” of my 18th birthday, we went down 2-0 to the Mags at Sid James Park.

In my lifetime, to date, Sunderland has had a total attendance of 63,721,574, equivalent to 99 per cent of Britain’s population.

Highest average attendance, in the 1949/50 season, was 47,785 (this is one statistic that’s missing but my bet is that 98 per cent of them were wearing flat caps).

Worst season for attendance was 1986/7, a woeful average of only 13,601. That was the season that Lawrie McMenemy oversaw our descent into what was then the Third Division.

During my lifetime – not counting this year’s season-opener against Leicester [it was written before that game made the record a little worse – Ed] – the club has played 3,199 matches with a slightly better average of wins over defeats – 1,180 to 1,177 with 842 draws.

If I’d watched every one of those games, it would have eaten up 200 days of my life. Though sometimes it would’ve seemed a lot longer.

Our longest winning streak has been nine games, losing streak 14, and unbeaten run 24. We’ve beaten Stoke – 31 times; 34 per cent of our matches – more than any other opponent and lost most to Liverpool, 47 times, 58 per cent of our games.

Players have had 952 yellow cards (most of them to Cattermole?) during our Premier tenure, an average of 68 per season, and 56 reds, an average of 4.

Bill Murray, who lasted 18 years, was our longest-serving manager, and Bob Stokoe is rated most successful.

And so on and so forth. It’s a mind-boggling array of figures. I suggest you try it for yourself and see if you wind up depressed or at least mildly elated.

I’m trying to take heart from the fact that for more than half my lifetime – 56 per cent – Sunderland has been in the top tier, finishing 41 per cent of those seasons in the top 10.

High time for that part of my personal Mackem history to repeat itself…

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3 thoughts on “Taylor Made: a BBC football version of <em>This is Your Life</em>”

  1. When I was born we’d never been out of the top flight, 15 months later we were relegated. Four days after my birth them up the road beat us six-two. I didn’t need the BBC gizmo to tell me these facts, my dad used to remind me of them on a regular basis. No wonder I’m paranoid!

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