‘Chronicles of a Head of Digital’ – 33

I don’t like to mention my charity work, but here you go…

So, that was the weekend that was. Two days sat in a tent in a field full of youth football. I say youth, under 7’s to men’s. A full-on two-day fiesta of football for my local club, my boy’s club, the mighty Ashridge Park FC. Anyhow, there I was a couple of weeks previous chatting to the club Chairman when he went all Michael Caine and said to me… “I’ve got a great idea”. At which point, I should have gone to the bar and pretended not to have heard him but no, we progressed.

Out came a packet of fags and a concept was designed on the back of it.

Spreadsheets were shared outlining the full programme of events and the full scale of what I had agreed to, which, in short, was this:

  • 2-day football tournament
  • 12 year groups
  • 167 teams (circa 800 players)
  • 546 matches

This great idea was the build of an app for the tournament that anyone could access and keep a track of the scores of every team over the weekend, see how games were going, and get qualifications from group stages to semis and on to the final. All weekend long, for every year group, every set within, every time, every match, every goal and every cup and every medal. From first kick off at 9am Saturday to the last final score at 6pm(ish) on Sunday. From a tent, in a field.

So, the fag packet designs progressed into code, into tables, into relational data into a responsive mechanic to work on mobile and so forth. This beta model was fully hard coded, front end and fiendishly difficult to work with having been cobbled by me with media queries and tables, and scripts all over the shop. At this point, a degree in astronuclear coding would have been required for anyone other than me to have any hope of updating any scores and results as they were run into the tent from the refs on bits of paper.

Not ideal as I wanted to spend the morning of Sunday in the sun watching the mighty Under 9’s play. So, some ease of use in updating was needed. Simple, stable and intuitive was the key, so onwards I went.

I then pushed the whole thing into Kentico CMS and built out the years, groups, teams and knockout again within the CMS framework. Well, with a complete lack of formal process, what with this being an evening’s hack job the nights leading up to Saturday, other than publish, test, check, sign off one by one we made it. Then came the bombshell of, we are in a field with no Wi-Fi! Yoikes! Last-minute run to town for a dongle late on the Friday before, plug it in, test it from the far-flung corner of the Furby Towers back garden and from there at least I had internet.

Roll on Saturday. Tents up, power on, plug in and hey presto we were up and running. All weekend, results run in and punched in. Houston, the eagle has landed. The app stood up all weekend, we got traffic, we saved much effort on announcements and enquiries and enabled 100% visibility to all games to everyone. The only two snags were the dongle crashing three times and my data running out late on the Sunday, requiring a last-minute top up (1 GB lasted until around 4.30 on Sunday to give you an idea of the volume of data pushed up).

So a quick summation of the stats and analytics, what with this being the year of using data:

App analytics

  • 874 sessions
  • 389 users (3.75 users per team)
  • 5,063 page views
  • 5.76 average pages per session
  • Average session duration 9 minutes 32 seconds
  • 27.23% bounce rate
  • 36.5% new sessions
  • 36.5% new users 63.5% returning sessions


  • 91.65% mobile (64.71% IOS; 35.29% Android)
  • 4.69% desktop
  • 3.66% tablet

Entrance page

  • 90% to /2017 (app main page)
  • 10% # (main site home page)

Traffic source

  • Direct (via QR and URL on a flyer and posters) 497 = 56%
  • Organic search (what people searched to find us) 337 = 38%
  • Referral 25 = 0.3%
  • Social 15 = 0.2%


  • 18–24 = 8%
  • 25–34 = 19%
  • 35–44 = 30%
  • 45–54 = 33%
  • 55–64 = 10%


  • Male = 79%
  • Female = 21%

More real-world numbers and stats from the world in which I live and breath. Next time I shall endeavour to revert to pontificating about the world from my soapbox.

And you know what? The hours, efforts, pressure, deadlines and panics were well worth it.

It’s good to actually use your trade for some good and around something you enjoy, to prove the worth of the profession and the benefits of the application of digital solutions in the right way.

100% positive feedback from ease of use to making the whole thing a lot easier to follow. From the QR code to scan or the URL to go to, Apple, Android, whatever, many people in a field proved worth. We even had users coming in to report score discrepancies as seen on the app to what was reported giving us a live and real audit on every match. The usual line of people at the tent asking questions was reduced to a dribble of a few saving more time and resource, both for us and the attendees, giving them more time to get sunburnt and buy burgers from the BBQ.

Now for next year’s plan.

Dynamic feeds from spreadsheets, self-sorting league tables, outbound push notifications on subscription, in-page alerts to lost properties and breaking news, geo caching and more… Well let’s get all that modelled out in 51 weeks’ time on the back of a new fag packet down the Ship. For now, I shall oil my head, neck, ears, arms and legs with after-sun and have a good night’s sleep.

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