Football is so ubiquitous now that, in certain circles at least, particularly male ones, professing not to take an interest in it is tantamount to saying one doesn’t shower or never gives to charity: an indication that one is somehow deficient, rather than a grown adult making an informed decision. It can leave one feeling very left out. This was certainly the position my ex-housemate found himself in living with three football fans. As a kind of pub-conversation survival guide, I created for him – and now you, dear reader – the ‘football-ionary’.
As general tips, the ‘football virgin’ or ‘football novice’ would be well served to express points in a confident, vociferous, humorous, stereotype-laden and politically incorrect manner, ideally pint in hand. Knowledge of specific facts is actually not terrible important. Good luck and God speed…
50/50 n descriptive of a situation in which both competitors have equal, hence the name, chance of winning possession of the ball.
Armchair fan n a fan who is not seen to support the game and his/her team because he does not spend extortionate amounts viewing matches live (also, fair-weather fan).
Blind adj a judgement passed upon a referee’s – supposed – poor decision making (however, officials, by definition, can’t be blind).
Big lad n both descriptive of a player’s physical attributes and, typically, his high-strength but relatively low-skill game (see also put on the big lad).
Box n the penalty area.
Don’t like it up ‘em colloq a vague term which suggests the opposition particularly does not appreciate, and therefore play well against, aggressive play. It can usually be safely applied by the football virgin testing out the waters of his or her unknown territory, and may often be reinforced by further comments asserting how the team of choice is going to “get stuck in” and “smash them”.
Early doors adj, n early on during the match e.g get stuck in early doors.
Early bath n a sending off, for when players are guilty of a serious foul or ungentlemanly conduct.
FIFA n officially the ruling establishment of football – who are typically referred to very negatively – but also a popular football simulation computer game. Be wary: this is a potential banana skin for the football novice.
Footy Man, Footy Manager or FM n football management simulation computer game that is as important, if not more, for many football fans as the game itself. It is often juxtaposed with the real game e.g “*player* is playing shit at the moment…he’s smacking them in for fun on my Footy Manager game, though!”
Game of two halves n another nebulous, catch-all term which describes the arbitrariness, capricious nature of football.
Gaffer synon manager.
Gloryhunter n a fan of a team who is supposed to only support them for their triumphs, not through thick and thin, which is often considered requisite in football contrary to its largely consumerist, capitalist nature.
Heskey n a lovable oaf, and also anyone vaguely resembling him.
Lad n common way of referring to those men involved in football.
Lino colloq the linesman – the official responsible for determining throw-ins and offsides.
OG abbr own goal.
On a plate adj (concerning a goal-scoring opportunity) easy.
Pen abbr penalty.
Play the whistle colloq a dictum to continue playing until an official directs otherwise.
Poncy adj descriptive of football which is seen to fail for its over-complication and fanciness. Perhaps the foremost exponents of poncy football are Arsenal. When successful, ‘poncy’ football is referred to as, variously, ‘good football’, ‘champagne football’ and displaying ‘tekkers’.
Poof n 1. Any player that reads a broadsheet newspaper (this definition, in football terms, typically extends all the way down to The Daily Mail).
2. Any player that doesn’t recklessly put their body in danger for the benefit of the team.
Prawn sandwich brigade n a term coined by infamous hard-man Roy Keane to describe, negatively, the influx of the bourgeoisie thought to be far less fanatically (and unquestioningly) passionate about the game and ‘their’ team than those who favour Pukka pies for nourishment. A tricky one to employ, but will earn the football novice real respect as a ‘proper’ fan if employed properly (see also Pukka pie).
Pukka pie n stodgy, meat-based produce favoured at half time at football grounds, especially lower league. Generally thought to be real, honest football grub.
Put on the big lad colloq a tactic often employed by teams in dire straits, whereby they stick an aforesaid ‘big lad’ in attack and play long balls up to him in the hope he can push some people out of the way and head the ball for a typically more talented player to score a goal. A pretty foolproof piece of tactical advice for the football novice to spout when a team is not winning.
She fel’ over colloq a chant echoed when a player, typically the keeper, falls over. The humour lies in the fact that most competitors of football are male – not in fact female, as the chant ostensibly suggests.
Short corner crap colloq descriptive of poncy play at a corner, passing the ball rather than whipping it into the box.
Sitter n an easy goal-scoring opportunity (typically applied upon a miss of said chance).
Stonewall adj (concerning a decision) certain. The football virgin can usually get away with applying this if there is merely a reasonably strong case for a decision (if the football novice is feeling adventurous, he may want to mix this with ‘pen’ e.g. “that was a stonewall pen!”)
Tekkers adj, n exhibitive of good technique. If especially so, is often prefaced by ‘unbelievable’. Etymoleng. Technique.
Thursday nights, Channel 5 colloq the term, deriving from the actual scheduling, used to disparage fans of clubs with the misfortune of playing in the Europa League, Europe’s less prestigious domestic competition.
Wanker synon the referee.