In Praise of a Point
Three points for a win is commonly thought to have been introduced to England in 1981-2 as the brainchild of Jimmy Hill. It took Fifa until 1994 to get on board, the plucky draw fell out of fashion and, notwithstanding the efforts of Sam “respect the point” Allardyce, has not made a comeback since.
But when I spent my birthday this year looking at old non-league tables [lonely tears splashing the yellowing pages of the “Isthmian Statistical Review”], I was surprised to discover that the innovation had actually been in place below the professional game as early as the 1973-74 season.
The effect of the change on K's appears unclear, analysis of the raw data not being aided by the fact that the team in the1970s was consistently rubbish whichever way you add up the points, the club seemingly dragged down by the same world-historical forces which undermined post-war social democracy and popularised glam rock.
K's finished 8th in April 1973, drawing 10 of our 42 games under the old “two-point” system. With the carrot of three points dangled before us the following year, we resolutely chose to ignore the incentive, managing to draw 15 games while falling to 15th position. In 1974-75, we got half the hang of it – drawing only 4 games all season but instead losing an extraordinary 25 times, no doubt piling valiantly forward in a doomed attempt at late wins at Richmond Road as long-haired, bearded fans in bell-bottoms roared their disapproval. [1974 was also the first general election that a Liberal candidate took second place from the Labour party in Kingston Upon Thames, a political shockwave that would culminate 41 years later with Jon Tolley on the council.]
Which brings me to Monday 12 October 2015 and K's fourth visit to Earlsmead since August. We protected our unbeaten run and avoided defeat but, said one disgruntled fan, “it's another draw.”
I disagree. It was, to use the phrase of our times, “a point gained”, which is infinitely preferable to a defeat [“three points dropped”]. Particularly after Hendon's Russell Short had put the home side ahead with only 15 minutes left. A fifth loss of the campaign loomed. Ryman history conclusively shows [excuse me while I dry the pages of the Statistical Review] that losing 5 matches before November bodes ill for the long winter. Momentum would have stalled, confidence eroded.
But up stepped Malachi Hudson to respond, menacing with every turn, driving the team forward. His chant duly echoed behind the goal, the Sex Pistols time-travelling three decades across the sparse terrace-car park while Jamie converted a traffic cone into a jumbo-vuvuzela, a sight unlikely to have greeted K's players in 1973. The winger duly jigged down the left, cut inside and curled a superb shot around Joe Wright to secure a draw. Sod the point[s] and the stats. No one thought of the table, just the loss averted and the hope maintained.
Match report by Taimour Lay.