As I watch soccer games in England and work on my book about the subject, I keep collecting terms and sayings that I find entertaining, or that I think Americans would do well to understand.
For example, what might it mean if you heard the (admittedly terrible) sentence, “Latics supporters were gutted after a shocking sending-off resulted in Burnley beating 10-man Wigan at a canter.”
Well, read on to find out. And here is the full list of helpful English soccer terms.
At a canter
Without going full-speed. When I was headed to Sunderland to see them play Arsenal, my Sunderland friends assured me Arsenal would win the game “at a canter.” And they did, 2-0.
Sam Allardyce, currently the manager of West Ham United.
Most of us know that what we call fries, they call chips, and what we call chips, they call crisps. But you might not know that a fish and chips place could just be a chip shop, or a chippie. And if you want gravy on your chips (a popular option) you might order a gravy chippie. I should also point out that one of the most popular brands of crisps is Kettle Chips, from my home state of Oregon, and I have no idea how they reconcile this exception to the chip/crisp situation.
One time I watched Manchester City play at Southampton, and after an hour it was 0-0, an even and tough game. Then City scored, and they were still ahead 1-0 after 80 minutes. Southampton had to go for the equalizer, which left them open to counter-attacks, and City wound up winning, 3-0. There was general agreement that City weren’t really three goals better on the day, which means the scoreline was flattering to them.
Flatter to deceive
This is another of these fantastic English phrases that could appear nowhere else in the world. Let’s say a young starlet scores a bunch of goals for the youth team and arrives on the senior squad full of promise and hype – but then he is, as we say in the States, a bust. If you assume flatter means “give a better-than-realistic description of,” then the kid’s early performance was flattering but ultimately deceptive.
Really bummed out.
In the States, we would just say huge, as in a huge game.
If one team gets somebody sent off, or just isn’t nearly as good as the opponents, then it’s going to be one-way traffic towards their goal all day long.
Awful – not surprising, which is how Americans would use it. English people would just say “That defending was shocking.”
Suck the goal in
Let’s say a team is playing at home and down a goal. The crowd is going wild, trying to will the team to score. Then the home team scores and the point is saved, or all the “spoils” are claimed. You might say the crowd sucked that goal in.
Throwing tea cups
Somewhere in our minds, we all want to think that English football players are sipping tea at half time, and maybe having a pie, pint and smoke after the game. And maybe they used to. Anyway, one vestige of this that has stuck around is the idea that at halftime the manager or captain goes on a tirade and starts throwing tea cups around the dressing room to get everybody fired. It’s an quaint, old-fashioned version of the hair dryer routine.
If Hull gets a guy sent off and then loses to Chelsea, then you would say Chelsea beat 10-man Hull. Funny thing is, the Hull man could be sent off in the 90th minute with Chelsea already ahead, 2-0, and commentators would probably say “10-man Hull.”