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TRG’s cut-out-and-keep World Cup Guide

9 June, 2014

The four-year wait is nearly over. England, with three two Saints players in the squad, have touched in Brazil, and on Thursday the World Cup begins! (note to Baseball enthusiasts – World Cup in this context means a Cup competed for by the whole World)  Every newspaper, magazine and website has a World cup guide which tell you all about the teams, players and managers in the tournament. That’s lovely and all very helpful, but what about those times when you are sat in front of your TV at home, or stood in the pub watching a million-inch plasma screen, and you raise an eyebrow at some of the expressions used, many of which don’t make sense? Where is the alternative World Cup guide to tell you what Lee Dixon or Adrian Chiles are talking about? Well, ladies and gentleman, you are reading that guide.
Please note: we’re only covering the Introductory Level basics here. An advanced course is required to know what Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend are on about, and as for Chris “Unbelievable Jeff!” Kamara – I don’t think even he knows.


Most papers and magazines will have a free World Cup wallchart you can cut out and put on the wall at home. You fill in the results of every game religiously and use the data to work out how many Portugal need to beat Ghana by before you can enter them in the box for “Group G winners”. It serves as work of reference and a souvenir, right up until England get knocked out and then it gets angrily chucked in the bin.

On Our Day
“On our day we can beat anyone” is often heard in tournaments. Yeah, if that “day” involves the opposition playing their reserves and your striker breaking his thirteen-game goalless run, you might have a chance. “On your day” is a football-speak expression of eternal optimism which translates as “never”.

He couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo
Used to describe a striker whose shots are somewhat wayward and this inaccuracy means he doesn’t score much. Why cow? Why arse? Why banjo? The details are lost somewhere in history.

110% percent
Giving a mere 100% percent is not enough in the hyperbolic world of football punditry. Giving 110% is the absolute minimum commitment. Giving rates of 1,000% or even 1,000,000% have been known.

Row Z
The first rule of defending is “if in doubt, hoof it out”. Wallop it off the pitch as hard as you can so your team have a chance to regroup before the opposition take their throw. Or, in these days of all-seater stadia, “smack it into Row Z”. Even if the seats in the ground are more than 26 deep, row Z is the mythical back of the stand.

Prawn Sandwiches
Roy Keane bemoaned the lack of atmosphere at Old Trafford since football has become fashionable and the number of corporate tickets sky-rocketed. These corporate spectators spend more time eating their prawn sandwiches, Keane said, than caring about the game. Hence the phrase “prawn sandwich brigade” was born.

Full of legs
If a player has high levels of fitness and runs more than anyone else during the game, he is full of legs. He just is, accept it.

Propaganda Football
Gordon Strachan came up with this one. A team who passes it around midfield a lot looks pretty, gets high possession stats, and maybe even draws a few shouts of ole! from the crowd. But if that’s all they do and they don’t break down the opposition, it gets them nowhere. Propaganda football.

Parked The Bus
This is my favourite phrase. A team that has very little chance of winning, but hopes it can at least scramble a draw, sets out to defend for an entire game without really attacking at all. This is often described as getting every man behind the ball. If they could, they would drive the team bus onto the pitch and park it in front of the goal. Hence the expression “they came and parked the bus”. Famously last season, Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers claimed that Chelsea played so defensively at Anfield that they had parked two busses. Genius.


And finally, there is a dialect among the songs and chants of fans aswell. There are 150 years of tradition and self-contained references behind this that won’t be apparent to the outsider so I won’t go into it all, but I will give you my favourite example of fans banter:

Is there a fire drill?”
Sung to the tune of La Donna E Mobile, this single repeated line is a brilliant insult. As the end of a game approaches, fans of a losing team will decide they have seen enough and head for the exits, especially if they are losing badly. Sometimes the slender hopes of the losing team are snuffed by a goal two minutes from time by the other side, sealing their fate, and there is a mass exodus. At this point, seeing the crowds streaming up the stairs, the winning team’s fans will turn to the losers and, in a mock incomprehension filled with the glory of victory, ask them “is there a fire drill?” Priceless.


Happy World Cup everyone!

From → Blogging, Football

  1. There is of course only one draw back to England actually winning something (okay use your imagination fr that bit) and that is that poor Ian Wright would perish, the poor guy goes into meltdown with ever ball kicked if we were to actually be successful I fear his head would actually explode, however the plus side is we can guarantee that they will have a camera on him as it happens, I actually think ‘Wright-cam’ should be a red button option during all England matches

  2. Me thinks you like this sport. A little bit. 🙂

  3. I am going to do this with you some day.

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