Statistical proof that the 1997-98 side displayed championship-winning form!
This table is based on the average ratings (out of a maximum of 5) awarded to players in BSaD match reports. Of course, there's nothing scientific about BSaD's player ratings, but the prejudices of Ig and others might be expected to be smoothed out somewhat over a whole season and these figures do provide an interesting guide to the quality of the team and the contributions of individuals in each season. Tracing performances over a whole season also provides an illuminating contrast with the traditional one-off 'Player of the Season' vote (as conducted by the players and the Watford Observer), since it emphasises consistency rather than popularity or memorable individual performances. Figures for BSaD's 1997-98 'Player of the Season' rankings - compiled from readers' monthly votes, so again not merely a one-off exercise - are given in the right-hand column for comparison.
The team improvement in 1997-98 has been phenomenal, as the 'team average rating' figure shows. Individually, and quite astonishingly, every player has improved on his 1996-97 rating (although not always his ranking) with the exception of Stuart Slater whose slip from 1st to 4th in the rankings hardly represents a worrying decline. The most improved players have been Richard Johnson (+0.6), followed by Clint Easton and Tommy Mooney (both +0.5). Johnson's achievements have been much-heralded, but Easton and Mooney are perhaps more surprising - Easton because he played fewer games than in 1996-97 if perhaps with more confidence and class; Mooney because he received plaudits a-plenty in 1996-97 and was top goal-scorer. His improvement indicates how successfully he's settled into his new centre-back role.
Comparing rankings from player ratings against BSaD's 'Player of the Season' rankings shows some interesting discrepancies. Peter Kennedy, for example, appears to be much more popular than his overall performances might suggest (though as top scorer, Kennedy certainly had an excellent debut season), whilst the consistent hard work of vital but less glamorous players such as Nigel Gibbs and Robert Page seems to go relatively unrecognised in 'Player of the Season' votes but gains its just reward in player ratings. Curiously, the contribution of Ronny Rosenthal is recognised under both methods even though he missed several whole voting-months through injury.
Note. This table includes only those players who played 5 or more games over a season but, for comparison, figures are included (in brackets) for players who played in both seasons but only met the 5-game threshold in one. Appearances by players which were too short in duration for them to be awarded a rating other than '0' are excluded from the averages and from the figures given in the 'Played' column.