Each week Damon and Damian explain a football phrase on the weekly languagecaster podcast. Below is a list of these English for Football expressions from the 2006-07 season in order of when they appeared on the show. Click on the audio link to hear them.
Week 29: Merry-go-round
Today we will talk about the phrase merry-go-round. A merry-go-round is of course the fairground attraction where people get on a revolving merry-go-round and then off again. Very often in football at the end of the season, managers lose their jobs or resign and move to other clubs. This can start a merry-go-round where one manager takes the place of another manager who then moves on to another club. Recently, Sam Allardyce has moved from Bolton to Newcastle, has he started this year’s managers’ merry-go-round?
Week 28: It’s a lottery
Damian: On this week’s English for football, we’re going to focus on two phrases – two clichés actually – which can be applied to any real game, particularly games towards the end of the season where people don’t really know which side is going to win so…
Damon: It’s a lottery and it’s anyone’s game. Damian: Yeah, now Damon what does it’s a lottery mean? Damon: Well of course a lottery is a competition where you buy a ticket, which is drawn out from many thousands to decide a winner. So the chances of winning are very low, but also the most important thing is nobody can tell who will win. It’s a lottery means no-one knows the result.
Damian: Yeah and very very similar to that where nobody knows the result, nobody knows which team is going to win, we can apply the phrase it’s anybody’s game. Now this is a real standard footballing cliché, which you’ll hear quite often from television commentators and footballers themselves, so Damon, this week a big relegation game between Sheffield United and Wigan. What do you think?
Damon: I think it’s anyone’s game. And in the Championship we’ve got four teams in the play-offs. What do you think?
Damian: Oh, it’s a lottery .
Week 27: Give a masterclass
Today’s English for football phrase is to give a masterclass. Now, a masterclass is usually a class given by a master musician, a top musician, to students The teacher is admired for his or her skill and is an example of what a great musician should be. In football, if a team gives a masterclass it means that they ‘teach’ the other team how to play football. It means that they are so good that we should admire their skill and style. It also means that the other team are made to look like students, learners, amateurs. This week, AC Milan gave Manchester United a masterclass in how to play a European cup tie. They destroyed the English team with their passing, speed, and attacking flair. They gave them a masterclass in how to play football. Liverpool also beat Chelsea in the Champions League and Benitez out-thought his rival Mourinho. He gave him a masterclass in tactics. Masterclass.
Week 26: Go down to the wire
Today’s English for football phrase is go down to the wire. Most European leagues are coming to the end of their season. In the English league, Manchester United only lead Chelsea by three points. In the Dutch league, there are three teams on equal points at the top: AZ Alkmaar, Ajax and PSV. It is going to be an exciting finish in both these leagues and other leagues too. When we have this situation, we say ‘the season’s going to go down to the wire‘. We mean that we don’t know who will win, and we will not know until maybe the last game. Originally, this phrase was used in horse racing, when two horses were racing to the line ‘neck and neck’ – close together. The line was a thin tape, or wire. Who is going to win in the Dutch league? It’s too difficult to say. It’s going to go down to the wire
Week 25: Provide the spark
Now, on this week’s English for Football, we’re going to talk about the expression providing the spark. Now, providing the spark means to make something happen, particularly when things are not going very well. So, a player is to provide a spark when he produces a piece of footballing magic to help change the result or the performance of the team. On many occasions this season, Ronaldo has provided the spark for Manchester United victories. Provide the spark.
Week 24: Promotion race
Now, this week’s English for Football is promotion race. Now, promotion comes from the verb to promote which means to move up, so for example to improve your position or to move up a position in a company. Now in football when a team moves up one division or league, for example The Championship to the Premiership, this is called promotion and it’s the opposite of relegation. Now, promotion race describes the situation between the teams trying to win promotion to the league above. So, this year’s promotion race in the Championship is a very close one indeed
Week 23: Take centre stage
This week I want to introduce the phrase to take centre stage. To take centre stage means to be the focus of attention, to be something that is the main news, the most interesting thing, person, or in team for example. At the moment, the Champions League is taking centre stage in Europe, with the final eight big teams all hoping to win the competition. But in each country soon the relegation battles, or the race to be champions will soon take centre stage. I wonder if the UEFA Cup will ever take centre stage? Whether it does or does not, let’s hope Tottenham can win it. Second thoughts, maybe not – Damian would never shut up if they did! To take centre stage
Week 22: Battling for survival
Now today’s English for football is battling for survival. Today we have talked about relegation battles and many teams will be battling for survival. Survival is from the verb survive – this means to live, usually in a difficult situation. Of course, to battle means to fight, to struggle. So, battling for survival means to fight to live, or in football to fight to avoid relegation. Battling for survival
Week 21: Brought down to Earth
Now, this week’s English for Football expression is to bring down to Earth. Now sometimes this expression uses the words, ‘bump’ or ‘bang’ to give it more emphasis, so for example, bring down to earth with a bump or to bring down to earth with a bang. Now the meaning of this expression simply means to come back to reality and usually this reality is not so exciting. So, in football last week we spoke about Yokohama FC, the new team in the J-League, after their wonderful derby victory against their rivals, Yokohama Marinos. However, this week, their dream start to the J- League came to an abrupt end when they were thrashed 6-0 by Kawasaki Frontale. They were definitely brought down to earth with a bang.
Week 20: Last-gasp goal
Today’s English for football is a last-gasp winner or last-gasp equalizer. Now last-gasp in football means at the last moment, in the last minute, so for example, the 90th minute or in extra time. A last-gasp winner is a goal scored in the 90th minute or extra time. For example John O’Shea’s goal against Liverpool was a last-gasp winner beating the Reds one-nil at Anfield. A last-gasp equaliser: for example, Messi scored a last-gasp equaliser for Barcelona against Real Madrid. His goal meant that Barcelona drew with Real Madrid 3-3 in the 90th minute. Last gasp goal
Week 19: One-way traffic
Today’s English for football is one way traffic. This phrase comes from talking about a one-way street or road where the cars can only move in one direction. When we use it to talk about a football match, we mean that all the attacking is coming from one team. Just as on a one-way street the cars move in the one direction, in a match with one-way traffic all the shots or attacking is from one team. It doesn’t always mean that the team who is supplying the one-way traffic wins, just that all the attacking, shots, and chances are from this team and the other team is not attacking. One-way traffic
Week 18: A game of two halves / to give 110%
One of the biggest football clichés has to be it’s a game of two halves. Of course it is! The first half and the second half. But sometimes this cliché is true. For example, Liverpool against AC Milan in the Champions League final in 2005. AC Milan in the first half score three goals. Surely they are going to win. In the second half, Liverpool score three goals to force extra time and finally to win on penalties. Truly a game of two halves. And now here’s a cliché from Damian. Damian – To give 110% Now for my footballing cliché I am going to focus on the expression 110%. Now as Adrian mentioned in the previous report, now he does not know if 110% actually exists but managers usually ask their players to give 110%. It means, of course, to give that little bit extra, to work really, really, really hard. So, for example last Sunday when Robbie Keane was sent off for Tottenham against Bolton his teams gave 110% to ensure victory for the Spurs.
Week 17: Grudge match
This week’s English for Football is grudge match. To hold a grudge is to have a bad feeling against someone because of something that has happened in the past. Of course, in football a lot of history builds up between clubs and if there has been some bad feeling in a game then the next time the teams meet the game becomes a grudge match. Examples of grudge matches this week include: Porto against Chelsea, of course, Mourinho used to be the manager of Porto and when he left he took some key players and staff. Some of the Porto fans have not forgiven him. A grudge match with a longer history is Real Madrid versus Bayern Munich. The Spanish side knocked Bayern out of the Champions League twice, in 2001 and 2004, while Bayern thrashed Madrid 4-1 and 4-0 in 2000. To this list of grudge matches you can add Manchester United versus Lille after their bad-tempered game this week. They are sure to hold a grudge against each other. The second leg will definitely be a physical game. Grudge match
Week 16: To earn a recall
This week’s English for Football phrase is to earn a recall. The word recall means to be asked back to do something and in football is used with the verb to earn if a player has been dropped by the manager but then is asked back into the team. A good example of this is David Beckham at Real Madrid. When Beckham revealed that he was going to join LA Galaxy in the MLS, the Real Madrid coach, Fabio Capello, said he would never pick him again. However, the former England captain was recalled to the side last week helping his team win 2-1 with a goal. Who knows, maybe he will earn a recall from England in the future too? To earn a recall
Week 15: International cap
This week’s English For Football is international cap. This week is an international week, there are lots of countries playing friendly matches. When you play for your country you get a cap. In 1886 the first caps were awarded to England players. The cap, a real hat, was white with a red rose. Now, international caps are awarded for other sports, not just football, but a real cap is not usually given. However, players keep count of the number of caps, or appearances they make. So, if a player has played ten games for his country he has ten caps. An example this week of a player being awarded his first cap is Joey Barton for England against Spain. International cap.
Week 14: Bogey team
Today’s English for football is bogey team. The word bogey means an evil, bad or unlucky spirit or ghost. Mothers often tell their misbehaving children to, ‘be good or the bogeyman will get you’. And bogey also means something that is annoying, something that bothers you. So, if we put these meanings together, something bad and annoying, we get the idea of what a bogey team is. It is a team that strangely always does well against another team. It is a team that one other team finds hard to beat. For example in the fourth round of the FA Cup, Arsenal were drawn against their bogey team, Bolton. Recently, Arsenal find playing Bolton very difficult and have lost several times. West Ham fans may think that Liverpool are their bogey team at the moment. Last year West Ham lost to Liverpool in a nail-biting final, and this year they have lost to Liverpool in the Premier League home and away.
Week 13: To be booked
This week’s English for football is to be booked. To be booked means to receive a yellow card from the referee. Of course if you have two yellow cards, or a second booking, you are given a red card and are sent off the pitch. You can be booked for all sorts of things: for example, a dangerous tackle, kicking the ball away when the opposing team has been awarded a free-kick, dissent (this means arguing with the referee), or using foul language (swearing, using bad words). We use the phrase because the referee writes the player’s name in his book when he gives a card.
Week 12: To take the game by the scruff of the neck
Today’s English for Football expression is take the game by the scruff of the neck. Now, what this expression means is to change the destiny of the game, to control the game, to dominate the game, to turn the game around. Particularly when your team is losing or not playing very well one of your players steps up and changes the game by playing very, very well, by tackling hard, by scoring a goal or making an assist. So for example, in the Champions League Final of two years ago when AC Milan were leading Liverpool by three goals to nil, Steven Gerrard took the game by the scruff of the neck and helped the Reds come back to eventually win the final on penalties. Now earlier on in the show, Damon was talking about David Beckham and in one of his most famous games, when England were playing Greece in a World Cup qualifier, he took the game by the scruff of the neck when England were losing 2-1 to eventually score the goal from a free kick to send England to the finals. So in this week’s big games in the Premier League which of the midfielders will take the game by the scruff of the neck?
Week 11: To be linked with
January is a busy time in the English Premier League because this time is when teams can buy and sell players. It’s called the transfer window, and the newspapers and Internet sites are full of gossip and rumours about which player is moving to which team. In today’s English For Football, we will look at the phrase to be linked with. To be linked with a team means that people think that a player will move, or sign for, a different club or perhaps a team will buy a player. So for example, this week, if we listen to the football rumour-mill, or the gossip, Deportiva La Coruna’s defender Fabricio Coloccini, is being linked to Tottenham. I think we’d all agree that that team needs a defender quickly. Also, Aston Villa are being linked with and offer for Craig Bellamy the Liverpool striker. And to be quite honest they are welcome to him.
Week 10: Underdog / Giant killing
Now this week’s English for Football focuses on two expressions that are connected to the FA Cup. Now, underdog is the name we use to describe the weaker of the two teams that are playing in a game. This team has less chance than the favourite so for example next weekend’s cup match between Chelsea from the Premier League and Macclesfield from the Second Division, Chelsea are the clear favourites and Macclesfield are the underdogs. Now if Macclesfield were to beat Chelsea this would be seen as an example of giant killing and giant killing is the second of our words this week. Now this word giant killing comes from the Bible story of David and Goliath. Now David defeated Goliath who was a giant and a much bigger, more powerful opponent but David defeated him so David was a giant killer. So, when a team, a smaller team, defeats a much more powerful or bigger team we call this giant killing.
Week 9: Relegation zone
Today’s English for football is relegation zone. To be relegated means to drop down a division. At the moment, Watford are at the bottom of the Premier League and they look like they will drop down to the Championship (the old Second Division). Relegation zone is a phrase we use to describe the bottom group of teams who are in danger of being relegated. In the Premier League at the moment Middlesbrough and Sheffield United are just above the relegation zone and have a big game this week. The relegation zone
Week 8: Two-horse race
Today’s English for football phrase is two-horse race. So, at the moment in the Premier League in England, there is a large points gap between the top two teams and the rest of the league meaning that these two top teams are favourites to win the league. Now in Spain it is looking like a three-horse race as Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Sevilla are all involved in the race for the Spanish League title.
Week 7: To be sacked / fired
This week’s English for Football expressions are connected to losing your job and focus on the insecurity of being a Premiership manager. There are many words and expressions that mean losing your job, with the most common being sacked, fired and axed. They all have a negative meaning and suggest that the decision to leave the position (or club) was taken by the chairperson or boss. This is different from retired or resigned which mean that the person made their own decision to leave. Other negative words for fired include, to be dismissed, to be kicked out, to be released. So, for example, this week Alan Pardew was sacked as West Ham’s manager due to poor performances and results that have left the team in 18th position. The new chairman fired Pardew after the team lost 4-0 to Bolton last Sunday
Week 6: Bouncebackability
Today’s English For Football phrase is bouncebackability. A very new word, it’s still not in most dictionaries. Now, it sounds a long word but let’s cut it up into smaller pieces: bounce, back and ability. The first two words make a phrasal verb, bounce back. This means to recover from a setback or bad news, to come back after something bad has happened. Adding ability to the end of this phrasal verb makes a noun, bouncebackability, the ability to recover from a setback. It was first used by Iain Dowie, the Crystal Palace’s manager in 2003 and is used in football but recently also in general English, so for example, Tottenham showed good boucebackability to win against Middlesbrough this week after their terrible result against Arsenal. Or Liverpool have shown amazing bouncebackability to recover from going three goals down against AC Milan to then win the Champions League final in 2005. Now, Damian can show his bouncebackability in this week’s predictions. At the moment he has 8 points while I have 22.
Week 5: Prima Donna
This week’s English for Football is prima donna. Now the reason for this week’s English for Football’s phrase is that the Queen of England described English footballers as prima donnas. Now, what does it mean? Well, prima donna come from the opera expression, ‘first lady’ so it’s from Italian and it means someone who is probably very egotistical or selfish and they have a high opinion of themselves, possibly vain, even irritating. So, Ronaldo from Manchester United could be described as a prima donna player. And of course, Carlos Tevez for West Ham, the Argentinian international, who walked out after being substituted may also be described as a prima donna. But probably the most irritating and vain player in the whole of the Premier League at the moment has to be Ashley Cole of Chelsea, a clear example of a prima donna
Week 4: Takeover
Today’s English for football phrase is takeover. A takeover is when a businessman or a group of businessmen or business people buys another company, they control the company. In this week’s news there’s an Icelandic businessman called Eggert Magnusson and he is taking over West Ham. He’s going to pay £85 million to be in control of West Ham’s football club
Week 3: Dark horse
This week’s English For Football looks at the expression dark horse. Now, a dark horse team is a team that has an outside chance of winning a competition or a cup. So, for example in this year’s Champions League many people are tipping Lyon from France to be a dark horse. Our own German correspondent, Hans, feels Bremen could be the dark horse team.
Week 2: Winning streak
Winning streak is used when a team wins games in a row, they don’t lose. For example, In the Premier League at the moment Manchester United are on a 5-game winning streak, they’ve won 5 games with no losses. You can also use this expression when talking about a team that has lost some games in a row – losing steak
Week 1: Predictions
Some of the language used by the two podcasters when talking about predictions.
1. What do you reckon for the first game? I’m going to go for 2-0 to Tottenham.
2. So, what about the West Ham – Arsenal game? I can see that going 2-0 to Arsenal.
3. How do you see this game? I see it being a 1-1 draw, what do you think?