Title winners, big hitters and a 10-year table - Irish Premiership stats of the decade
At the start of the decade, Linfield were kings of the Irish Premiership. 10 years on, the Blues still reign supreme - but an awful lot has happened in between.
We have had thrills, spills and every type of goal you can imagine, plus there has been plenty of Irish League Behaviour.
With help from Northern Ireland's 'stat king' Marshall Gillespie, we have put together some of the most interesting facts and figures from the last decade.
There is a lot to pack in, so get yourself comfy, put on the kettle and enjoy.
|Who won what in Northern Ireland?|
|Irish Premiership||Irish Cup||League Cup|
In one sense, so much has changed in the last decade, but in another, things have very much stayed the same.
The Gibson Cup has exclusively stayed in Belfast, jumping between Windsor Park, Solitude and Seaview.
Thankfully, Northern Ireland's two main cup competitions have been spread about a bit more than the league title.
Before their drop down the pecking order, Lisburn Distillery's sole League Cup trophy stands out at the beginning of the decade, while Ballymena United's 2017 triumph adds gloss on three failed attempts in the decider over the last 10 years.
Not that Cliftonville fans need reminding, despite their dominance in the Premiership and League Cup, the Irish Cup has evaded the north Belfast club since 1979.
Interestingly, no team has completed a treble in the 2010s (we are not including the County Antrim Shield in this, sorry Linfield fans), which highlights how difficult it is to challenge on all fronts across the season.
Table of the decade
|Overall Premiership table of the decade|
|*Deducted 12 points|
|Stats correct as of 29 December|
There is so much information here, it really is staggering. 18 teams have graced Northern Ireland's top flight over the decade, with eight of those teams having a permanent stay in the top flight.
After lifting the Gibson Cup four times in the 2010s, Linfield also take top honours in our table of the decade. Crusaders are the only other team to average more than two points a game.
Cliftonville are a lonely third, with Coleraine in fourth to Glenavon in seventh all nicely bunched together.
With only 19 games under their belt, Larne's early-season form skews the statistics a little bit - however it shows that the Inver Park side have maybe flown under the radar since their promotion, and how competitive the league has been this season.
It is interesting to note that eight of the 18 teams have failed to average more than a point a game during their time in the top flight. On that reading, it is perhaps unsurprising that all eight of those teams have faced the dreaded drop at some stage over the decade.
The rise and fall of giants (and rise again)
By some margin, Linfield are the most consistent team over the last 10 years, followed by Stephen Baxter's Crues.
Glentoran's demise and rise is quite evident when looking at the stats. For a club that has had such success in the past, their decline is quite sad to see, but with recent investment and as their Boxing Day win over Linfield shows, the rebuilding process is well under way at the Oval.
Likewise, Cliftonville dropped away after their two titles early in the decade, but after a spell in the wilderness, the Reds are mounting a title challenge this season under Paddy McLaughlin and find themselves three points clear at the top at the turn of the year.
It is interesting to see that there has usually been an unlikely challenger, with Ballymena United, Coleraine, Glenavon and Portadown all taking turns at taking it to the established big hitters. The level of consistency by the 'big three' highlights their performance across the decade, and all three deserve huge credit for sustaining that performance.
Speaking of the Ports, the Shamrock Park outfit had an eventful decade, to say the least; finishing second under Ronnie McFall before off-field problems saw them slapped with a 12-point deduction which led to eventual relegation from the top flight.
With the sleeping giants returning to form, plus Larne's investment and promotion to the top flight, the next decade promises to be very special indeed.
Who is Mr Reliable?
Every team needs one stalwart (or six in Crusaders' case). You'll see a familiar pattern when it with the top scorers later on, with Seaview legend Jordan Owens and Linfield goal machine Andy Waterworth leading the way with the most appearances.
Billy Joe Burns is just behind after being a nearly ever-present in Baxter's side at right back when he swapped Windsor Park for Seaview in 2014.
Perhaps surprisingly, only two goalkeepers make the top 12, with Glens stalwart Elliott Morris making over 300 appearances (and scoring one goal) across the decade, with Sean O'Neill not too far off hitting a treble ton.
Ross Redman is a name who maybe flies under the radar a bit when it comes to some of the more established names in the league, with the veteran left back representing Portadown, Glentoran and now Dungannon Swifts.
In the dugout
The Irish Premiership has produced some fantastic managers over the years. Who's the greatest boss of this decade? Well, that's nearly impossible to answer, but we have put together a list of 15 names to try and make sense, statistically speaking, of some of the kings of the dugout.
Roy Coyle's caretaker spell in charge of the Glens would technically put him top of our table after two wins from his three games, so we have limited it to managers who have been in charge for 20 or more games.
That means that Linfield boss David Healy tops the pile, just ahead of Stephan Baxter and the late, great Tommy Breslin.
Mick McDermott has had a strong start to his tenure in the Oval hotseat, and Warren Feeney's stats are impressive despite his relegation-bound spell at Ards.
David Jeffrey, Scott Young and Paddy McLaughlin are the only other managers to average a 50% win rate across the decade.
|Managers' league table of the decade|
|Stats correct as of 29 December|
|Warren Feeney||Linfield, Ards||57||32||14||11||40||110||56%|
|David Jeffrey||Linfield, Ballymena United||315||171||57||60||203||570||54%|
|Paddy McLaughlin||Institute, Cliftonville||60||30||8||22||7||98||50%|
|Ronnie McFall||Portadown, Glentoran||268||113||54||101||32||393||42%|
|Eddie Patterson||Cliftonville, Glentoran||187||79||48||60||58||285||42%|
Goals, goals, goals
When it comes to finding the back of the net in the last decade, the big hitters make present some unsurprising reading.
Crusaders veteran Jordan Owens leads the way with a staggering 158, narrowly ahead of Andy Waterworth's 150 for Glentoran and bitter rivals Linfield.
Paul Heatley has also been scoring for fun with 143 - and which is a fine effort considering he isn't even an out-and-out striker - with Joe Gormley fourth on 141 despite a two-year stint across the water.
Curtis Allen sits fifth in the rankings, and is the only player in the top five who has been a big hitter for three clubs across the decade.
Allen's tally is more impressive when you consider the position of he clubs he has been at, basically dragging Glentoran through the past three seasons. Top poacher!
Football, of course, is a team game, and Stephen Baxter's Crues have found the net more than any other side, but when it comes to keeping them out, Linfield reign supreme once more.
Glentoran's past reliance on Allen is highlighted when you look at the average goals per game, but with the new investment at the Oval, you can expect that figure to rise throughout the next decade.
Double figures, anyone?
Speaking of goals, you certainly get value for money in the Irish Premiership. 10 or more goals have been scored in six matches over the decade.
It seems that Cliftonville, Ballymena, Ballinamallard and Portadown have provided the most entertainment, with all three teams featuring more than once.
Portadown are the only team to have netted 11 goals in a single game, hitting all of them against the poor Mallards. Unsurprisingly, that is also the biggest win of the decade.
Now that is what we call some top-quality entertainment!
|10+ goals in an Irish Premiership fixture|
|19 November 2011||Ballymena United||3-7||Cliftonville|
|7 September 2013||Portadown||11-0||Ballinamallard Utd|
|17 January 2015||Portadown||5-5||Ballymena United|
|21 February 2015||Glenavon||3-7||Crusaders|
|26 January 2018||Ballinamallard Utd||6-4||Cliftonville|
|22 December 2018||Institute||6-4||Cliftonville|
Solid as a rock
As we all know, goals are important but keeping them out at the other end is the difference between winning the title and mid-table mediocrity.
With Linfield conceding, on average, less than a goal a game, it's not really a surprise that the Windsor Park outfit lead the way when it comes to the highest number of clean sheets over the last 10 years.
It is also not overly surprising when you look at some of their shot stoppers, which is an impressive list consisting of Roy Carroll, Alan Blayney, Jonny Tuffey and Ross Glendinning.
You couldn't separate the two north Belfast rivals with some dental floss when it comes to keeping the goals out, albeit the Reds have played a game more, and only 11 clean sheets keeping Glenavon, Ballymena, Dungannon and Portadown a part.
Unsurprisingly, Larne prop up the table with their short stint in the top flight, however a measly 11 clean sheets in 131 games is not great reading for Distillery fans.
Keeping it clean
It is often said that Linfield skipper Jamie Mulgrew is the most-fouled player in the Irish League, but unfortunately the stats aren't available to back that up .
However, Marshall has been digging deep to see who have been the dirtiest teams in the League over the past 10 years.
Glentoran top the charts when it comes to both yellow and red cards, with a staggering 59 sending-offs in 380 games.
Glenavon, Coleraine and Ballymena have also collected over 50 red cards, while Portadown have had as many dismissals as roast dinners despite being relegated in 2017.
Even though they have bounced between the Irish Premiership and the Championship over the last 10 years, Warrenpoint Town's tally of 34 red cards in 213 games is quite some some going too.
Of all the teams to play in the Irish Premiership for all the decade, Dungannon Swifts were bottom of the pile until this festive period, when three red cards in their two games jumping them up above Linfield.
So there we have it, the best facts and figures from the last ten years, and the new decade will be welcomed in with the best title race in years. Thank you to the 2010s, roll on the next 10 years!
All stats are correct as of 29 December 2019