The 2014/2015 season kicked off yesterday at Deptford Green. This season takes the three sided football experiment to its natural next stage – playing a regular set of six teams in a league format with full fixtures and an evolving league table. The league will be called the Luther Blissett London League – and the Luther Blissett Trophy will be awarded by the man himself on the final day.
Towards the end of last season turn out had reached an average of 30 players – with an amazing 41 coming along to play in our final game. As we had started regularly playing across two pitches the time felt right to move from the free for all, one off games of previous seasons to the experimental rigour of fixed teams. How this would alter the flavour of play had been a regular topic of conversation – and the opportunity to put it to the test had at last arrived.
By playing across the two pitches we had already subdivided ourselves into six teams – though participation had been a fluctuating affair. At the conclusion of the final game, the forty players present were distributed equally across the six. From now on players would be part of a regular team. Would the game dynamic move from the self levelling balancing act we had seen before to one in which the positional imperative of the table might create and cement more durable alliances?
At the recent world cup in Denmark (attended by Polscy, PFFC and D3FC) – and about which more later – the scoring and organisation of the table was hotly debated. Do we count goals for as well as against? Do we invert points so the least are awarded for the best results? The system was gradually honed over the last couple of weeks and on Sunday afternoon, before the first games kicked off – the following was agreed:
In keeping with Three Sided Football’s principle of allocating victory to the team which concedes the fewest goals, there will be no points for a win, one point for coming second and two points for conceding the most. If a game is fully drawn (e.g. all teams conceded an equal amount of goals), a single point will be allocated to each. If there is a winning draw (e.g. two teams concede the same amount and the third concedes more) then a single point will be awarded to the drawn teams and two to the one which conceded the most. If there is a losing draw (e.g. two teams concede the same amount and the third concedes less) then two points will be awarded to the drawn teams and no points to the team which conceded the fewest and thus won the game.
Points allocated on the basis of the above will form the principal method of ranking the teams. Total goals conceded will form the secondary method of ranking the teams and in case these two ranking methods are unable to separate the teams, a goal difference – determined by subtracting goals scored (less own goals) from goals conceded – will form the third and final method of ranking.
The mathematics of a six team league mean that it takes twenty games for every permutation of the six to play equally against each other. Divided over the two pitches, this requires ten match days. We will therefore continue to play on the first Sunday of everyday month from September through to June – being the ten match days required.
A fixture list was drawn up to distribute the six teams as evenly as possible across these match days – with an attempt being made to ensure no two teams play against each other on more than three consecutive occasions. The fixtures were prepared on the basis of using letters (e.g. a b c d e & f) – rather than team names – to determine the arrangement – and on the day of the first matches, representatives of each team pulled out a letter from a bag containing one each of a b c d e and f. The letters on the fixtures list were thus transformed into actual games – and as you can see from the chart below – we began the season by playing Philosophy Football FC against Aesthetico Athletico against Polscy Budowlancy – and D3FC against New Cross Irregulars against Strategic Optimists FC.
Both games resulted in winning draws. The first rotation saw both Polscy and D3FC being hammered by an alliance of the two opposing teams – letting in three goals apiece. Careful defensive play saw both get back into the game as the original alliances splintered. While the Poles were finally unable to find parity despite some excellent play, Deptford were gifted an unexpected winning draw through stout defensive play and measured assists. The first table of the League Season therefore sees Aesthetico and Philosophy sharing honours at the top – separated by alphabetical advantage alone. New Cross take third following a deluge of goals scored during their game against D3FC and the Optimists. (Laurence Galpin being the striker to watch). Deptford take 4th place. Polscy and the Optimists take 5th and 6th position on 2 points. Following the recent article about Three Sided Football in Mainichi Shimbun in Japan, a TV news crew from Japanese Kansai TV came along to film the new season. Their intention is to introduce Three Sided Football to Japan in the hope of encouraging a Japanese team to enter the next World Cup in Germany in 2017. We will post a link to their film about the first games of the new season as soon as it is available.