Horse Racing & Football – Football Language Podcast – 2021-22 Season

On this week’s football language podcast, we discuss some phrases from the sport of horse racing and how they are used in football, too. We focus on the title race between Liverpool and Manchester City in the 2021-22 season. The transcript for this podcast is available below, and you can also check out our massive glossary of footballing phrases here. Visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts, and if you have any suggestions or questions please contact us at or leave a question or comment on our forum. (DB=Damon)

Horse Racing & Football – Football Language Podcast – 2021-22 Season

DB: Hello everyone. Welcome to and the show for all those interested in learning English and who love the beautiful game – football.

My name’s Damon, and some listeners may know, I am a Liverpool fan, so I am a little bit down at the moment. My team finished second by one point to Manchester City in the Premier League on the last day of the season. I was gutted on the day, really disappointed, but hats off to Man City. The table doesn’t lie!

Damian, the other member of the languagecaster team, will probably be feeling pretty pleased as his team, Tottenham Hotspur, finished in the top four and above their rivals Arsenal on the last day. Well done to them!

In today’s short podcast, I’m going to talk about some of the language from horse racing and how it is used in football, too. We will look at the race between Manchester City and Liverpool this season for the title.

Stinger: You are listening to (in French).

DB: Yes, you are listening to and that message was in French!

At a canter

DB: So, Manchester city won the league title last weekend by just one point. But, back in January, Manchester City had a large, 14-point lead over Liverpool. It looked like they would win the race for the title easily. They could cruise to victory. In this situation, we can say at the time that they are winning at a canter. A canter is a way to describe how a horse runs, it is like a jog for a human, not a sprint. So, if they can win at a canter it means a team can easily win the title, they can relax a little and not ‘sprint’ or gallop to the end of the season.

Two-Horse Race

At the time, Pep Guardiola said the 14-point lead was a fake lead because Liverpool had two games in hand, they needed to play two more games to play the same number as Manchester City. In a way, he was right, but Liverpool not only won the two games in hand – 6 points, but Manchester City dropped points too. This meant the gap was closer and soon Liverpool and Manchester City were both fighting for the title. A one horse race had turned into a two horse race. Manchester City cantering to the title in January, a one horse race, became a fight between the two clubs – a two horse race.

This is a very common phrase when describing a title race, and we could say a three horse race if three teams have a chance of winning the title; a four horse race, etc.

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Neck and Neck

So, in January Man City were winning the title race at a canter, by March it was definitely a two horse race with Liverpool narrowing the gap to six and then three points. But coming into May, the gap was only one point. It was very close. In this situation we can use the horse racing expression it was neck and neck. In horse racing winning margins can be measured by lengths, the length of a horse, by necks, from the shoulder to the nose of the horse, and by heads, the head of the horse. So, neck and neck, means the two horses, or two teams in football, are very close to each other.

Home stretch

The last months of the title race, April and May, can be called the home stretch or sometimes the home straight, which is another horse racing phrase. Usually, in a horse race the final section of the race is a straight part of the track called the home stretch – home is the goal. Going into the home stretch Liverpool and Manchester City were neck and neck.

Pip at the post

Going into the home stretch, and the last game, Liverpool were hoping to catch Manchester City. They were neck and neck with only one point between them. It had been a two horse race for a couple of months. Liverpool had been one point behind for most of May, and if they caught Manchester City and won the title, we would say they pipped them at the post. They came from behind to just win. In horse racing, a horse might finish strongly and catch the leader just before the ‘post’ the finish line. They would pip them at the post.

Stinger: You are listening to (Hungarian).

Thanks for that message in Hungarian.

So, we have a lot of phrases in football that are borrowed from horse racing. Manchester City looked like they would win the league at a canter, but Liverpool made it a two horse race. In May they were neck and neck in the home stretch, but Liverpool couldn’t pip Manchester City at the post.

Good Bye

DB: OK, thanks for listening and enjoy all the football wherever you are. Remember to check out our site, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, just look for Languagecaster. And remember, there’s a transcript to this show on our site, along with loads more podcasts and hundreds of football phrases. And finally, it’s the Champions League this weekend – Come on your Reds!  Ta ra!

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

Free football language podcast for learners of English brought to you by Damian and Damon. Interviews, match reviews, predictions all with full language support for football fans around the world who wish to improve their English language skills.

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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Horse RacingEpisode 813