Football Read Review: How to interpret the language of football

bandkFOOTBALL is the sport of cliché and jargon, of that we are all certain. New words and phrases creep into the lexicon on an annual basis. Recently, “game management” and “worldie” have become part of the everyday language of the game.

You get wrapped up in this world within a world, so much so that when you are trying to interview a manager post-match and need his attention, you might ask a player to seek out “the gaffer”. You buy into it – you have to.

Ian Bendelow and Jamie Kidd have produced a book which provides an easy-to-grab guide on the lingua franca of the beautiful game.

Bendlow & Kidd’s Dictionary of Football is not a million miles away from a recent book on football clichés, but it’s an entertaining publication all the same.

As someone who has advocated proper media training for players, I especially enjoyed the reference to “Obviously, you know, I mean”, the opening words to most post-match interviews with a footballer, described as being more about stumbling vocabulary and stock phrases than anything else. The sort of interview that typifies the Gerrard, Rooney, Terry generation…sorry, “golden generation”.

“The phrase is almost always delivered with a hand on the neck, a look away to their left and wincing expression as it they are looking up into the loft.”

Then there’s the curious terminology to describe a good left-foot player, whose favoured foot is always “cultured” – the cultured left foot. Nobody has ever had a cultured right foot.

Bedlow & Kidd remind us that we’ve all suffered from “cup fever”, “squeaky bums” and the odd “purple patch”. And they do it with a touch of humour and irony. It’s the companion to an afternoon’s SKYTV football.

Bendelow & Kidd’s Dictionary of Football is published by Oakamoor, priced £ 10.99

Time for clubs to educate their players on the English language

It’s time that football clubs started to educate their players on how they should speak to the media. We are tired of hearing meaningless comments by players after a match, often in a form of English that belongs to the darkened bus shelters of the inner city.

Admittedly, a large percentage of players would probably be sitting around in such places if they had not been scooped up out of a hard life of under –achievement, but isn’t it in the best interests of the clubs to ensure their players are representing them in the best possible way?

Last week, Joey Barton spoke to the French media in the sort of accent more associated with the TV sitcom “’Allo, Allo”. It was midly ridiculous, but was he merely “taking the mickey”?  I think he may have been.  And what about Eric Cantona and his equally tongue-in-cheek “sardines” comment!  Incidents like these, however, stand out in a bland sea of cliché and jargon.

Players are not the brightest floodlights in the football arena – otherwise they wouldn’t tolerate the nonsense that goes on around them – and their post-match interviews reflect this. How many “you knows” can you squeeze into two minutes? Other classic phrases include “done well” and “didn’t do nothing”,  amongst others.

Let’s not forget that these young men are supposed to be role models for every working class kid who dons the replica shirt.  But they are being influenced by people that have little education or grasp of the English language – and I am not talking necessarily about the foreign imports!

The game has never been graced by rocket scientists, but then again, why should it? Years ago, if a player had any sort of academic prowess – and there are some – it was always referred to in virtually every media report or pen picture. I recall West Ham’s Trevor Brooking being highlighted as someone who had a couple of O Levels – it was that basic. Chelsea’s Juan Mata is also an educated man, and it shows in the way he conducts himself (he recently bought into his former club to help save it…decent fellow that he is).

The clubs should spend a little time ensuring that their players give the game a decent image. I say “Let’s kick illiteracy out of football”.