Wednesday

D'ya Know What I Mean?

This blog has recognised the established well of words and phrases that everyone in football, from the top of the football pyramid to the bottom, draws from to express themselves. Many of these phrases originate in football, and the odd one has even crept into general usage outside of the game's bubble.

However, there seems to be an elite group of words and phrases - which are used consistently by football figures- that have been uprooted from their historically mainstream context, never to return. These phrases are now very rarely used in "real life", and have been well entrenched in the football lexicon, but still look far too sophisticated for the (relative) morons that are using them. Would the club chairman of a lower-echelon feeder club really be able to define the word "derisory" if it hadn't been commandeered for the purposes of publicly pouring scorn on a transfer bid from one of the big boys? Of course not - the club's owner has seen "derisory" used thousands of times before by equally unknowing supremos.










These phrases cover every nook and cranny of the sport. We have previously documented the glorious variety of verbs for shooting at goal, the majority of which seem to be nearly obsolete elsewhere in society. When did rifle become a verb, for example?

Goalkeepers often elect to punch - when did you last elect to go to the pub? Custodians between the posts are often grateful to their stalwart centre-half for marshalling their obdurate defence. At the other end of the pitch, profligate strikers can squander gilt-edged chances, their embarrassment only spared by the linesman's flag should they have been adjudged offside.

More successful attackers take advantage of slide-rule passes from midfield schemers, cutting a swathe through the opposition defence, and finishing with aplomb (or, perhaps, an impudent chip). Seriously, what else on the planet has ever been done with aplomb? Every football fan knows what aplomb means in their world but they daren't use it at work, as it would sound ridiculous.

You know when a defender keeps an attacker at arm's length while the ball trickles over for a goal-kick? That's shepherding that is. Apologies to anyone reading this who is, or knows, a shepherd, but you're unlikely to encounter anyone doing any genuine shepherding. Ever had anything rescinded, other than a harsh red card? Ever lambasted someone for being lacksadaisical at work, only to see them turn on a sixpence and maraud out of the door? No.

When football has failed in its attempt to lay claim to non-football phrases, it simply corrupts them and makes off with awkward counterfeit versions. "Champing at the bit" has been warped by visibly confused footballers into "chomping on the bit". No-one seems to know if it's "stomping ground" or "stamping ground", either.

If you have any to add, comment below or tweet me at @FootballCliches - I'm feeling lacksadaisical.