Toby Time: Beyond Doubt


With the release of the excellent Portcast episode featuring our very own Toby Knight, and the discussion therein pertaining to the phenomena known as “Toby Time”, I became inspired to have a look at the numbers and see if they would lie or simply tell us what we already knew for certain; that Port simply perform better when Mr. Knight leaves a little early, and returns a little late, to get a few halftime lagers under his belt.

“Did I not have anything better to do with my time than to go through all our league games since the start of 2018 and see at what time each goal was scored or conceded”, you may ask. Well… yes, yes I did, but my ability to procrastinate is all but unmatched even in the land of Sabai Sabai and, as far as my better half is concerned, this article never happened. Anyway, I have now performed the thorough scientific work needed to truly examine what defies all science, but has long been beyond any doubt to every self-respecting sports fan; our rituals have a real effect on the outcome of the games.

So, what did I find?

First of all, the main character himself says it all started with the mad beginning to the second half at home to Muangthong in June 2018, during which we scored 2 and conceded 3 within the first 14 minutes, all while he was knocking back Leos outside the PAT. This was halfway through the first of our consecutive 3rd place finish seasons so it also happens to make it a perfect cut-off point for a before- and after comparison. Now, I don’t know exactly which games Toby may have missed, and exactly when he would have left and returned to the stands during the ones when he was there, so I have simply looked at every league fixture and defined “Toby Time” as minute 36 through 60, the last 10 and opening 15 of the first and second half respectively.

Since the start of 2018, we have scored 128, and conceded 81 goals in T1. Statistically, goals are about as likely to be scored during any stage of the game so, even taking the extra minutes awarded for stoppages in the first half, the 47 goals (37%) we’ve racked up during Toby Time in the two latest seasons are roughly 12 more than the 34.54 (27%) that we should perhaps have expected. Defensively, we are more aligned with the normal curve, with 24 goals (30%) falling at the wrong end in the same interval, although there were slightly more goals conceded than the expected 21.87 (27%).

The graph below shows the big disparity between expected and actual goals scored, and a smaller difference between expected and actual goals conceded.



The goals came thick and fast even before Toby stumbled on to his magic formula, with 11 out of 35 (31%) scored, and 8 out of 22 (36%) conceded in the timespan between 36 and 60 minutes.

In order to prove Toby Time though, we have to look closer at what has happened since that fateful night when Toby’s thirst for beer and conversation just barely trumped his hunger for derby day football. During the last season and a half, Port have banged in 93 goals and allowed our opponents to find the net 59 times. 36 of our goals came during Toby Time, an increase of a whopping 8% from the 31% in the first half of 2018, while the number of goals conceded were merely 16, representing a 9% drop down to the expected 27%. The graph below shows the 8% increase in goals scored and the 9% drop in goals conceded since the Muangthong game in June 2018.


Goals Scored Jan-June 2018 (mins 36-60)Goals Scored since June 2018 (mins 36-60)
11 (31%)36 (39%)


Goals Conceded Jan-June 2018 (mins 36-60)Goals Conceded since June 2018 (mins 36-60)
8 (36%)16 (27%)



All of this shows that we were not only right all along in that we are more likely to score when Toby leaves for an extended half time beer break, perhaps a bit surprisingly, we are far less likely to concede. Proving once and for all that what, when, and where the fans drink, is almost as important as the performance of the players on the pitch. And Toby, by taking one for the team and keeping away during the most goal intense period of the games, could well be one of the key components in Port’s 2020 title bid.


Toby Time Wins: Port FC 1-0 Sukhothai FC

The pioneering 20th century social anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard conducted most of his early research on the Azande, an indigenous African tribe living primarily in what is modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo. His fieldwork formed the basis of his classic text Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. Published in 1937, the book champions the relativist theory of psychological attribution. Are you still following me? Well here’s a good example from the book; 8 Azande people die when a termite infested door frame causes a house to collapse. Evans-Pritchard clearly sees evidence of termites in several areas but the Azande dismiss this notion and conclude that it was caused by witchcraft and start conducting elaborate ceremonies and rituals to regain the favour of the spirits and deities they worshipped. So who is right? Rational thought would automatically conclude that the termites caused it, but what if some higher power could control or effect them to carry out this whole episode that we know nothing about? Evans-Pritchard concluded that both were right; if your personal belief system convinces you it is true then it is true.

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