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Announcement: Working at a Club

Posted in Opinion, and Uncategorized

You may have noticed that towards the later half of this season I haven’t been posting as regularly. On top of the usual “I’ve been busy” excuse, one reason for this radio silence has been due to the discussions I’ve been having with an AFL club. Following these discussions, I’m thrilled to announce, live and exclusively here, that in 2018 I’ll be playing Full-Forward for Port Adelaide.

Okay, maybe I’m not cracking the first team just yet, but from next week I will be working in a full-time role for the Power helping their football department make decisions with the aid of data and statistical modelling. I’m very excited to be coming on board with a club who share many of my views on the potential for analytics to improve decision making (in regards to coaching, tactics and list management) and, in turn, improve on-field performance.

What’s Happening to the Website?

The site will remain here, and I will continue to sporadically post interesting tidbits or comments when I feel the need. I’ll also still be around on Twitter doing very much the same.

However, the downside to this great opportunity is that any findings I make or models I develop now become club IP, and will no longer be shared here with the same detail they have in the past. As a lover of open and intelligent analysis of the game, this saddens me, but it’s a necessary byproduct of being given the time and resources to solve some of footy’s most interesting problems as a job. My first priority now becomes what is best for the club. As is the nature of competition, not all edges can be shared.

This leads me on to the main thing I would like to say while I’ve still got you here:

If You’ve Ever Thought About Doing Your Own Analysis, Do It Now

I know the readership of this site is varied. There are a whole bunch of readers who are only interested in more advanced stats about their particular team, there are others that just like reading about the footy in general, and there are others who read with an interest in the direction and development of analytics in sport.

I’d like to encourage anybody who may be interested in trying their hand at some analysis to do so. The community is growing, but there’s still a lot of low hanging fruit in footy analytics, There is no reason that you can’t be the one to pick it. A lot of good work is being done with publicly available data, and I’m sure that a lot more is still to come. Something as seemingly insignificant as a new metric has the potential hugely valuable if it is defined and used properly.

This blog has given me some wonderful opportunities over the two and a bit years. I’ve been invited to meet with coaches and analysts representing many different clubs, through which I have learnt to see footy from different perspectives and understand more about the internal processes of the game I love. I was offered a job and worked for a season with Champion Data as an analyst providing stats and game trends to the Fox Footy commentary box, all the while learning how to watch and appreciate games in ways I hadn’t before. I’ve had the opportunity to work on exciting projects with smart people, of which I can’t say much about now, but will hopefully be able to announce soon. I’ve even been interviewed a few times on TV and in print.

My point is not to brag, but rather to assure you there are people watching this space. If you do good work it will get noticed. Even if your aspirations are not in the footy world, I can think of few better ways to develop data science, programming and visualisation skills than by playing around with a dataset that interests you. These skills are transferable, whether your aspirations are in business, research or tech, footy data is a great way to dip your toes in and learn some skills.

If you do decide to start writing, let me know and I’ll be happy to share it. If you don’t have your own site, I’d also be happy to host certain things here. There are many others on Twitter who I’m sure would also be keen to help.

Of course, there can be no analysis without data. By far the most common question I get here is about data. All data I use on this site is publicly available if you look hard enough and brush up on scraping skills. Unfortunately, I don’t share any raw data out of respect to the data owners. It is expensive to collect this data, and they have decided for business reasons not share more of it. That’s the way things are. For a ready source of what is publicly available, you can’t go past sites like afltables and draftguru.

Thank You

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has ever read, liked, shared or commented on one of my articles. It might seem like a trivial thing, but when you pour tens of hours into programming, graphics, analysis, and writing for a single article, a nice comment or retweet can really make the difference in whether you want to do it all again next week.

The internet would be a nicer place if everybody let content creators when they liked something, and not just when they hated it.

Anyway, thanks for reading, I hope to see you around.


  1. Tim Millar
    Tim Millar

    That’s brilliant! My hearty congratulations – great work and well-deserved! I wish you every success at Port.
    … and thanks for such an inspirational post. Brightened my afternoon!

    October 24, 2017
    • Thanks Tim! Enjoyed your writing early last year. Still punting? Refined the algo a bit?

      October 24, 2017
  2. Harry

    Congratulations on the job! Have you done any courses for stats and analysis at Uni? I’m thinking of doing a Bachelor of mathematical sciences next year.

    October 24, 2017
    • I’m an Actuarial major (but don’t do that unless you like looking for numbers in 30yo tables) with a diploma in stats and stochastics.

      Would definitely recommend the mathematical sciences route if that interests. Make sure to develop your programming at the same time, because Unis are really bad at that and it’s a vital skill.

      October 24, 2017
  3. Geoff

    Long time reader, first time poster.
    I enjoy yours and all the footy stats bloggers’ work.
    Sorry I won’t read your work in the future, but well done on joining the club I’ve supported since I was 6.
    And a great STEM model – you can study maths and stats and end up with what I presume will be a really fun job.

    October 24, 2017
    • Thanks Geoff. Definitely a lot of directions to go with STEM. Maybe one day we’ll get to the point where you can tell a stranger you study maths without the reply “so you want to be a teacher”.

      Mind you, I still prefer that to the also common “I hated maths, why would you do that?”.

      October 25, 2017
  4. Lee

    Congratulations, Robert! Sounds really exciting.
    Were you actually working as an actuary before this?

    Also, can you tell us how this job came about, namely, did Port approach you first, or did you contact clubs first? It sounds like it took some time to finalize, too. Was that because you had to discuss/negotiate the exact role you and they want you to play in their football department?

    November 7, 2017
    • Thanks Lee. No I was working with Champion Data part time whilst finishing up my degree.

      The club approached me. It took time work out my exact role within the club, but was also pushed back due to footy department budgeting.

      November 28, 2017

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