Follow me:

Learn English Through Football Podcast: Dead rubber, ball watching and one for the camera

This week, the Champions League group stages are done and dusted and the remaining 16 teams are waiting for the knock-out stage draw next Monday. We’ll be featuring news from that and other football stories in our good, the bad and ugly section on the podcast this week. We also have some English for football phrases including: dead rubbers, ball watching and one for the cameras. The show also features feature three big games from the Premier League in our predictions battle – Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion, and Liverpool v West Ham. You can read the transcript for the show in our post below (Damian = DF, Damon = DB).

2016-17 Learn English Through Football Podcast: Dead rubbers, ball watching and one for the camera

Subscribe to the show and receive automatic downloads every week

Transcript of the show

DB: Your listening to’s football language podcast. Welcome to our show listener. It’s a show for everyone who loves football and is interested in improving their English language skills. My name is Damon, and I am talking to you from Tokyo, Japan on a beautiful December’s day. For those of you who haven’t visited Tokyo, in winter, although it is cold, it is generally good weather, with blue skies and lots of sun. Now, down the Skype line is Damian in London, where winters are generally a lot greyer than in Tokyo. What’s the weather like there Damian?

DF: Hi Damon. Yes, the weather in the UK’s capital in winter tends to be on the grey side but today, Sunday, is cold but bright. Perfect weather for some Christmas shopping but think I might stay in and watch the football instead!

DB: Sounds good. I’m guessing you’ll be watching your team Tottenham’s game against Manchester United, a game we feature on the show today in the predictions section. Am I right and what else do we have on the show?

Line up

DF: Yes, I will be watching that game later on today – and after going to see Spurs play at Wembley during the week in the Champions League I am hopeful we will put in a good performance at Old Trafford. Right, on this week’s show, as always, we’ll start with some stories from the footballing world in the good, the bad and the ugly section. After that, we’ve got a quiz question for everyone – it’s a tough one this week. Then we will spend a bit of time talking about three English for football phrases: dead rubber, ball watching and the cliche, one for the cameras. And, of course, we’ll finish with our predictions for three key games in the Premier League this weekend.

DB: Let’s kick off with some good news form the world of football. What was good for you this week, Damian?


DF: Well, it was a good week for Lionel Messi who scored his tenth goal of his side’s Champions League group stage in the 4-0 thrashing of German side Borussia Mönchengladbach. It was interesting to note that Messi was not rested for this dead rubber match as he wanted to beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 11 group stage goals set last season. He also scored more goals than 23 other sides in the Champions League group stages this season – including my team Spurs. Remarkable. How about something bad Damon?


DB: Well, I read a rather depressing story connected with the A-League, that’s the top league in Australia. They are considering expanding the number of clubs, which is a good thing as it shows football is becoming more popular there, but they are going to allow TV companies to have a say in which clubs can be admitted to the league. Of course, I know money is part of the modern game now, but to see how directly it can influence things was a bit of a shock. Gone are the days when the best team wins and gets promoted through the divisions. Now, it may just depend on if your team plays in a city that the TV companies believe will give them a big audience. And ugly?


DF: Yes, money does seem to influence everything in the game now. Just look at the Champions League. Well, for ugly I am going to talk about two of the richest clubs in England: Manchester City and Chelsea and their match from last weekend which saw Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the table. The game had an ugly end to it when City’s striker Agüero was sent off for a reckless challenge on Chelsea defender David Luis. This then sparked a melee – or handbags – in which City’s Fernandinho was sent to the stands after an altercation with Chelsea’s Fabregas. An ugly end to the game for City who will be without Agüero for four matches and Fernandinho for three games due to suspension.

Yes, you are listening to And that was in Cebuana, a dialect from the south of the Philippines and thank you to Az for recording that. If you’d like to record your own version of the message, ‘You are listening to’ in another language then you can send it on to us by emailing here at

Follow us

DF: This is the part were we tell you how to get involved with – the main thing is to visit our site at, tell your friends via twitter @languagecaster, or visit our Facebook page Learn English Through Football. And hello to all those who have started to follow us in the past week including Mohit on Facebook and to Stephane, O Fisca da Fiel and to Bend Ball on Twitter. Spread the word!

Quiz question

DB: OK, time for our weekly quiz question. We’ve just talked about the A-League in our news section, so for this week’s question, we’ve got an Australian flavour. Can you name two of the three Australian-born players in the Premier League this season?

DF: Wow. That’s a tough one. I don’t think Tottenham have a Australian player on their books. We’ll be back with the answer to that at the end of the show. Right, next up we have our first English for football phrase, Damon, what do you have?

Football Language: Ball Watching

DB: Right, I’m going to start with the phrase ‘ball watching‘. This is used when a player is looking at the ball and not at the player he or she is supposed to mark, which means that his or her opponent is free. This idea of ball watching is linked to a lack of concentration and sometimes pundits will say that a defender has switched off because they were not concentrating on marking their opponent and instead are looking at the ball. The phrase ‘to be caught ball watching‘ is a typical collocation with the idea of ‘caught’ suggesting that the defender was not ready due to a lack of concentration. How about you Damian, what football language do you have?

One for the Cameras

DF: OK, Damon, I’m going to talk about two pieces of football language. The first is the cliche ‘one for the cameras‘, which is usually used to describe a goal keeper making a save. One for the cameras implies that the keeper has made the save more spectacular than it needed to be; they have exaggerated the save. perhaps there was a shot that was directly at the goalkeeper, the keeper could make a routine save, but instead gathers the ball and rolls on the floor, holding the ball tightly to his or her chest. The save is unnecessarily dramatic. The keeper is showing off to the crowd and the cameras (especially of the game is being shown on TV). One for the cameras.

DB: And the other one?

Dead rubber

DF: Well Damon as our Instagram and Facebook followers may know I was at Wembley this week watching Tottenham play against CSKA Moscow in a Champions League group stage game. Neither side could progress to the knock-out stage so it was a meaningless game and we use the phrasedead rubber to describe such a game. I think the expression may come from tennis and in particular the Davis Cup tournament where countries play against each other in matches known as ‘rubbers‘ and sometimes the final rubber has no meaning as the overall result cannot be affected: a dead rubber. Earlier on in our good section we mentioned that Leo Messi played in a dead rubber game in order to try and break a goal scoring record; his side Barca were already through as group winners while their opponents Borussia Mönchengladbach could not qualify for the next round.

DB: That’s not the first time you’ve seen a dead rubber is it Damian?

DF: No! I was at the Albania versus Romania game during the summer at the European Championship in France when neither side could progress to the next round – a dead rubber.

DB: Good stuff. OK, next up we have this week’s predictions.


DF: Before the games, let’s take a look at the standings. The overall standings have me way out in front on 108 points, Damon, with you trailing in second on 84 and behind you Jose Levy on 71. December has just started and already you are leading on 10 points – I have 9 – with Jose on 7 and the Mighty Toft on 6 points. There are lots of games in December including a full set of fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday of the upcoming week.

DB: Well done, Damian. As you said, there’s still time to get involved with the December predictions. Come along to the site, click on Predictions Competition at the top of the site and either register or login to add your predictions. Right, what games have we got, Damian?

Manchester United vs Tottenham

DF: Well, as today is Sunday we will be focusing on three of the four Premier League games taking place today, and the first game involves the team I support, Tottenham, travelling up to the north west of England to take on Manchester United. A loss for The Red Devils would see them drift further away from the top five; there’s already a six point gap between Spurs and United. So, a lot of pressure on Mourinho’s men. What’s your prediction Damon?

DB: You’d have to fancy Spurs to get the win, but their record at Old Trafford is not great, historically, and they’ve lost their last two visits. I’ve got a feeling Spurs will dominate but will have to settle for a 1-1 draw. You?

DF: I think Spurs have turned a corner with some good performances in the past few games – I think we might sneak it 2-1.

Liverpool vs West Ham United

DB: OK. Next is a match between my team Liverpool and West Ham who find themselves in a relegation battle. What do you think Damian?

DF: Form suggests that Liverpool should win and I think they will. 2-0 for me. How about you?

DB: 3-0. Come on you Reds.

Chelsea vs West Brom

DF: OK, and finally it is the red hot Blues, Chelsea, hosting West Brom at Stamford Bridge. How do you see this one at the final whistle?

DB: 2-0 and the juggernaut roars on, that’s Chelsea winning of course. You?

DF: West Bromich Albion are also in a rich vein of form and were in 7th place in the league at the start of play. They could this a difficult afternoon for Chelsea, so 1-1 for me.

Quiz Answer

DB: OK, just before we go, do you remember the quiz question. Can you name two of the three Australian players in the Premier League? What’s the answer, Damian?

DF: The three Australian players at Premier League clubs in the 2016-17 season are: Adam Federici – Bournemouth, Aiden O’Neill – Burnley, and Brad Smith also at Bournemouth.

Good bye

DB: OK, that’s it for this week. Enjoy all the football this weekend. Ta-rah!

DF: Yes, don’t forget to input your predictions during the week! Bye and see you next week.

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here.
If you have any suggestions, contact us at

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Hosted by

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!
Google | Facebook | Twitter | Mail | Website

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show