The Language of the Run InFor this week’s listening report, we focus on the language of the run in, the end of the season when the title race is decided. This weekend, the J-League in Japan features the last week of games, and two teams have a chance of winning the title. If you have questions or comments, email us at: (Damian=DF Damon=DB)

The Language of the Run In

The last weeks of the season are usually the most exciting for football fans if their team has a chance of winning the title or is in danger of relegation. At this time of the season there are many football phrases used to describe what is happening. Many come from horse racing. If it is a particularly close finish with two or three teams in with a shout, down to the wire might be used. Down to the wire refers to the line at the end of a horse race, traditionally marked with a wire across the track. For example, in Japan, the season has gone down to the wire with Urawa and Osaka having a chance of winning the title on the last day. In this situation, the last few weeks have been described with our second phrase borrowed from horse racing – a two-horse race, meaning Urawa or Osaka could win the title – they are the two horses with a chance of winning as they run in to the finish.

Another common phrase used at the end of the season will be ‘squeaky-bum time‘, a phrase coined by ex-Man United manager, Alex Ferguson. Squeaky is an adjective derived from to squeak, to make a short, high pitched sound. Bum is a casual word for a person’s bottom or behind. When squeaky and bum are combined it makes the image of someone on the edge of their seat, moving forwards and backwards in a nervous manner. When a finish to the league is close, this is exactly what happens to fans.

If the title has been decided before the last game, you might hear, all sewn up, a phrase which means something is already decided. Incredibly, some pundits are saying that Chelsea, in the Premier League, already have the title sewn up, that Chelsea will definitely win the league.

An ideal season, though, will see a final few weeks with lots of teams trying hard to win the title, qualify for various competitions, or avoid relegation. In this situation there is all to play for, the teams will try their best to win, they have a reason to try hard.

If you want to know more about a particular area of football language leave a comment below and of course you can check out our huge list of football vocabulary here.


the run in: the final games of the season, the last section

relegation: finishing at the bottom of the league and dropping to a lower division

in with a shout: having a chance

coined: created (a new word or phrase), started

Related Links

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

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