English Football-Speak: A Guide for the Perplexed – I

This is a bit of a departure for me, as I’ve never really posted about sport here before. I must confess that I am an avid football fan, and have been compiling a sort of humorous guide to the language of ‘proper football geezers’. I hope you enjoy this first part – check back soon for more.

English Football-Speak: A Guide for the Perplexed

A game of two halves – A game in which the first half was different to the second half. Notable usage by football reporting legend and former Sheffield Utd clogger Chris Kamara: “It was definitely a game of two halves, especially in the second half.”

Six of one, half a dozen of the other – Used by commentators/pundits to indicate that two players appealing for a foul are equally at fault. Often employed when one player has left another writhing around in agony and screaming for his mother, following a leg-breaking, possibly career-ending, foul.

Handbags at dawn – Used to indicate that two players are behaving like a pair of big girls when a confrontation appears to be verging on fisticuffs. Nota bene, such inferences are now regarded as politically incorrect and have been blacklisted by that most worthy and illustrious organisation, the BBC; to wit, after Liverpool goalscoring legend Robbie Fowler recently described Torres and Vertonghen as ‘fighting like girls’ on Match of the Day, he was immediately dragged off by the corporation’s Stasi for ideological reprogramming and soon reappeared on the screen with a glazed look in his eyes, to deliver a grovelling apology in which, rather oddly, he declared himself to be a big fan of women’s football.

The lads have done magnificent” –  Used by club captains (and certain slightly awkwardly matey managers, such as Steve McClaren), to indicate that the team have performed exceptionally well.

The lads – The team.

The gaffer – The manager.

The boss – The manager.

The guvnor –  Paul Ince.

Banter – Light-hearted mickey-taking between players in the dressing room, widely believed to help develop camaraderie and improve morale.

Stick –  Relentless bullying of one player, the traumatising effects of which are presumed to be alleviated by occasionally patting him on the head and telling him it’s “just a bit of banter”.

Obviously, it’s nice to get a goal, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we got the result”  – “Thank God!!!! I finally scored again!!!!! Maybe those bastards will stop giving me so much stick for a while.”

Obviously –  See especially: Parlour, Ray. Used equally by footballers to highlight the fact that something is obvious, and that something is not obvious, thereby rendering it more of a punctuation mark than a word. Example: “Obviously, it was a big game today, and obviously we had to be on top of our game, because obviously, they’ve got some really good players, and obviously the lads in defence and midfield had to work really hard, and obviously, the keeper’s made some terrific saves. Obviously, I’m really chuffed with the result, and obviously I’m going to have chicken tikka masala for me tea tonight, and obviously get a nice bottle of wine, and obviously put a bit of Billy Ocean on and have a cuddle with the wife on the sofa, before hopefully, obviously . . . ”

At the end of the day –  Used by players to begin a reply to almost any question. For example: “At the end of the day, obviously, we had to be on top of our game, because obviously . . . ” Etc., ad nauseum, until you feel like dashing your head against a jagged rock formation.

Doing a Ronaldo –  Being brilliant, in an annoying way.

Doing a Suarez – Cheating. And then being brilliant, in an annoying way.

The dying swan – Trying to claim a foul by going to ground in an elegantly balletic fashion, that would be almost poetic in its exquisite grace, were it not for the fact that it’s so shamefully bloody embarrassing. Nota bene, it is very important, when attempting to execute this tricky maneuvre, to ensure that one foot continues to trail along the ground until you reach the penalty area, at which point you may hit the turf like the proverbial sack of spuds. See: Klinsmann, Jürgen.

The magic sponge – A special, highly mysterious, piece of equipment carried by physios from the top clubs, with a remarkable capacity for curing players who are pretending to be injured, thus resolving the charade to everyone’s satisfaction (with the notable exception of the opposing player who has just conceded the penalty/free kick, in spite of having been a full five yards away from the ‘injured’ player when he did the dying swan).

For me, he’s got that one right” –  Said by one referee about another referee, after he’s just made the most unbelievable howler of a decision you’ve seen all season.

I did not see the incident”  –  “You and I both know that it was a blatant foul/dive by my player.” See, for example: Wenger, Arsene.

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