All Goals App: Goals Straight To Your Mobile

ios-click-here

It was Only ever a Matter of Time

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? This is my first posting on The Away Strip for some five months, but don’t be thinking that I forgot about you for a single second. No, this tortuous yet wholly voluntary exile has finally yielded some delicious footballing fruit. And so, today I am delighted to announce The Away Strip’s first mobile and tablet app – All Goals.

All Goals is the first app of it’s kind and , quite frankly, I can’t believe it took an ill-educated technological neanderthal like myself to create it.  This free application for Android and IOS brings the latest goals and highlights from the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A (along with the Europa League, Champions League and International Matches) straight to your mobile device. You can keep tabs on goals from a specific league, use the search function to find a certain goal from the database or just stay tuned to the Latest Goals timeline to see what is occurring across Europe.

We’re talking about footballing democracy here – see the goals you want almost as soon as they go in, see the highlights you want almost as soon as the final whistle blows. All you need is a mobile device and an internet connection.

Too good to be true, right? Well, to an extent, it is. The service has little flaws that I am all too aware of:

1.Not all matches are catered to equally .

The app operates like a search engine meaning it scours video sites looking for the latest football clips and then posts what it finds. This is an extremely fast means of getting Goals to you but it has two drawbacks. 1) Some matches get over exposure – meaning All Goals may give you multiple clips of the same goal. 2) Some matches get very little exposure – meaning it can take a comparatively longer time for All Goals to find clips from that match. For example – if Arsenal score against Manchester City you can expect to see the goal within two minutes but if QPR score against Sunderland we may be talking tens of minutes before you are watching it on your phone.

2. Goals are Best Served Hot

Due to copyright legislation, The Away Strip doesn’t keep videos on it’s server. Instead, All Goals searches out links to other websites that host the videos. This means we can offer this service without encroaching on anyone’s rights as publishers but it also means we do not control what happens to the videos once they are released online.

The upshot of this is, as we have found during testing, that videos get removed from the web by the end of the day by the latest. We try our hardest to remove all dead links from All Goals as soon as the original video is taken down but, from time to time, you will be met by a black video and a notice saying that the video has been removed. But then again, if there are four clips of the same goal the chances are that one of them will still be live.

3. A Slight User Experience Slip

This is more of a heads up. When you find the video you want to watch you are directed to tap the ‘Watch it’ link. Connecting to the video can take up to five seconds – a reasonable time to be left waiting, I’m sure you’ll agree – but these are five seconds with no visible actions on the part of All Goals. What I mean is that on tapping the link there is no moving circle or hour glass symbol suggesting something is going on in the background. Don’t worry, the app is working and will load the video before you can say “Customer Service Department”.

All of these flaws would be non-existent if I had even a shred of app development knowledge. Unfortunately I don’t and All Goals is purely the result of five months worth of blindly fumbling through ‘How-to’ guides and back-alley internet forums. Rest assured though, I am constantly learning new tricks and will address these flaws with updates in the coming months.

Otherwise, that’s it. Below I want to talk about why I made the app but if you don’t care to read my philosophical ramblings and just want the latest Goals and Highlights directly to your mobile device you can click the appropriate link directly below or scan the appropriate QR Code at the top of the page to get All Goals on your Android or IOS device.

ios-click-here

Still Here?

Okay, now that the marketing dross is out of the way let’s have a serious conversation about why I’ve spent five months fumbling through the alien world of app development  in order to make All Goals.

“MONEY”, I hear the pessimists shout. Well… yeah, kind of, but let me explain.

After spending a year writing about football statistics I finally came to the conclusion that I was wasting everyone’s time. The hours it took to gather and manipulate the information and the means by which I disseminated this information to the viewing public were both highly inefficient. Creating statistical models around incomplete data sets and publishing static information that would only ever be relevant for small periods of time was a redundant exercise and of very little value. And even if someone could find my work of some interest or use, they would have to trawl through my long winded explanations and conclusions in order to learn anything worthwhile.

This all lead me to the grander, begrudging and slightly conspiracy-fueled-paranoid conclusion that football is a closed, elitist industry. Football statistics is a prime example of this. Companies like OPTA and Prozone own football statistics, and to get a piece of their property you have to be willing to remortgage the homestead. Yes, some OPTA licensed data is available from sites like Whoscored and Squawka but 1) the data they provide is but the tip of the iceberg and 2) doing anything meaningful with the data is near impossible. I’m not knocking OPTA or Prozone here, they worked hard to get to where they are and employ enough people and equipment to make their price tags understandable.

My issue lies with the underlying, archaic philosophy that is at play here – the privatization of information. Our entire reality is information – “The sky is blue”, “The Earth is round”, “Cher’s last name was ‘Sarkissian’. She changed it because no one could pronounce it”. Everything we percieve is information and the more of it we have the more well rounded our understanding is. In terms of statistics, only a privileged few truly understand football and this fact has slowed the games evolution down to a snails pace.

Okay, so say I somehow was granted access to OPTA’s entire statistical database, would that kick-start football’s evolution. No. No for two reasons – 1) I am stupid and 2) I am nobody. Let’s delve deeper into these two tragedies.

I am Stupid

The absolute hubris it takes for someone like me to publish articles on football statistics is astounding. What right do I have? I have a degree in Law, I have tended bar, I go to perhaps two live football matches a year, I used to be blonde, I like horror movies. Which one of these facts makes me of any use to the football analysis community? (Rhetorical Question) The only marketable asset I have in this forum is that I have enough spare time to compile data but even then I am wholly unwilling to spend my life in front of a spreadsheet. But imagine if someone with a good grounding in statistics or maths or physics could get their hands on OPTA’s data. Imagine if someone like that could play with those numbers for just a couple of hours a day. That could yield something interesting. Now imagine that any such person with a propensity towards football could use that information and could share and discuss their findings. That, my friends, would be progression. The information age has helped mankind evolve but it is not the finishing line. We will move closer to that line when we learn to embrace the open source age – a time when more and more information is made freely available and instantly accessible thus allowing for more creativity, innovation and progression in all areas of life – football included.

A beautiful picture I’ve painted, I know but before we all start running into the streets, shedding our clothes and singing Kumbaya we are forgetting a very important point…

I am Nobody

Don’t get me wrong I like being nobody, life is complicated enough without living the open book life of the celebrity. It does however put me at a disadvantage as regards getting anything meaningful into the football forum – why spend twenty minutes of your life trawling through one of my rambling, poorly explained articles when you can watch seasoned veterans like Gary Neville and Pat Nevin on TV and online? No resentment here, that’s just the way it is. The way of humanity is to have blind faith in the experts – the doctors, the lawyers, the weatherman and, yes, the football pundits. But this is mass ignorance. These experts are unfairly put on a pedestal, we tend to forget that they are just humans like us, with flaws and misconceptions and worries and trials and bosses and time constraints.

Am I saying that you should ask your green grocer about your stomach pains? No.

Or that consulting your next door neighbour on your legal woes would be just as sensible as talking to your lawyer? No.

What I’m saying is to open your eyes …

A doctor will give a prognosis – tests and scans will give you results.

A lawyer will give an opinion, law books will give you the truth.

Want to know what the weather’s like? Go outside.

Want to know how a player or a team performed in a match? Look at the statistics.

Alan Shearer may sound out a certain player from a game and talk about his movement, his passing and (heaven forbid) he may even take note of the guy’s Shots on Target figures. Meanwhile, someone who can do something meaningful with data could tell you the worth of every player on that field with far greater accuracy and a whole lot less bias.

Problem is, these theoretical guys, their nobody as well and I am afraid to say they probably will remain nobody for a long, long time.

Robbie Savage’s opinions are always going to be more prevalent in the collective consciousness than Dr X from the University of Y because Robbie Savage is on the television and so is immediately gifted a greater acceptance of his legitimacy.

There are people writing blogs and books who could contribute to the world of football in a much more profound way than any pundit or mainstream journalist but in the end they won’t because in the grand scheme of things they are nobody.

This is why I said I was wasting everyone’s time. Why try and help a profession that doesn’t want to be helped? Some may say that if they can change one person, just one persons view of football that it would be worthwhile but that is ridiculous. In reality it’s all. Or Nothing.

So what’s the answer? In my mind the answer is to not be the doctor but be the one who devises the test. Not to be the lawyer but the one who writes the law books. Not be the weatherman but to be the … I don’t know … wind sock … thing. Don’t rely on your writing style, or your on screen presence, rely on the data that backs you up. Don’t rely on the opinion you give to turn heads but the truth in the data you collected and the results that it gives.

Take a tour around the internet, look at some football stats bloggers. Look at their number of twitter followers, look at how many Facebook likes they have. Then compare the numbers to those of sites like Squawka and Whoscored. The conclusion I have drawn is that people don’t want 1000 words when they can get the same information from 10-20.

If I spend my free time writing bloated articles that have a nugget of useful information buried deep within I am wasting my time. But if I shift my focus on making that little bit of truth readily accessible, continually relevant and eternally correct then I may still be nobody but I have quietly given the world something very valuable.

Case in Point

People are employed by a variety of different companies to transcribe football match events. Commentators, play-by-play online journalists, that bunch of old people they wheel into the Soccer Saturday Studios on match days. All of whom use up their valuable time in this world trying to describe to us what is happening on the pitch. This is wholly inefficient. The only people who are needed are the ones who ensure that what is captured by the television cameras is safely delivered to our eyeballs. This is were All Goals comes in, it is a time efficient conduit for the delivery of information to those who want it.

Okay, so some of the aforementioned people are still of worth. All Goals only gives you the goals and condensed highlights, it doesn’t give you the in depth information of the whole match like, say, a radio commentator will. But what it lacks in quality it makes up for in quantity – a radio commentator can only process one match at a time. A vast computer network, the likes of which All Goals is plugged in to can watch as many matches as are being played at any one time and deliver to you the true key events from all of them in the most efficient manner possible.

And yes, as I mentioned before, money does come in to play here – there are adverts on the App. But this is where the grand unified theory comes full circle. Every penny that the App makes gets reinvested into The Away Strip. Regardless of my stupid nobody status I still love football and still love football statistics. And I truly believe in all that I have written today. Football data can help evolve the game but for that to happen it has to be open source, it has to be efficiently delivered and it has to attain a strong enough degree of truth to make whoever is delivering it irrelevant.

Leave a reply