As I watch English soccer games on TV and in person, I am constantly taking note of words and expressions that I don’t hear anywhere else – phrases that you might wonder about, if you didn’t think about this stuff as much as I do.
I am writing a book about the game, and one of the things I will do is immerse the reader into as many aspects of it as I can. This includes answering such questions as, “Why do English people call it football and Americans call it soccer?” I will also answer questions like “Who are the Busby Babes?” and “What the hell does ‘park the bus’ mean?”
The whole list, including these updates, can be found here. But for now, a few more terms to know while watching English soccer football.
In the mid 50s, Manchester United was winning league titles with a team that averaged about 22 years old, and their manager was Matt Busby. This would have made them famous enough, but eight of them were kill in the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, when the team plane crashed after a European Cup game.
A wonderful English term for surrender. “Fulham will be looking to rebound this week after their utter capitulation at Hull.”
Any time you see or hear the word “City,” it almost certainly means Manchester City, who won the league in 2012 and 2014.
Class of 92
Six players who came up together through the Manchester United youth system, made their debuts in 1992, and formed the core of their awesome teams in the 1990s: Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville Brothers. (Giggs just retired in 2014!) There’s even a movie about them:
As Urban Dictionary puts it, this is a “more polite version of balls out.” It means really going for it.
Flatters to deceive
He can run, has some skill on the ball, has a great work rate, and seems he’d be a good player – but he always disappoints. He flatters to deceive.
Head for the corner
There’s this really annoying thing teams do to kill time when they are winning late in a game: they dribble into the corner, then put the ball right by the corner flag and turn their backs on the field. When defenders come, the guy with the ball can hold them off, then bounce it off them and out of bounds for a throw-in. Or wait for a foul. Or just wrestle with them and waste time.
I think it’s awesome that the name of the greatest band New Orleans ever produced occasionally pops up during discussions of crusty old Manchester United. Alas, these Nevilles aren’t leading us in Second Line processions to Cajun rhythms; they are Phil and Gary Neville, from the Class of 92, who led Manchester United to a host of trophies in the 1990s and onward.
Park the bus
If you basically make no real effort to score and just have everybody play defense, you have “parked the bus” in front of the goal. An inferior team might do this to grab a point from a superior one, or Chelsea might do it to win the Champions League.
A typical bit of English understatement that comes up often, as in, “There’s a full schedule of games this weekend, including the small matter of the Tyne-Wear derby at St. James Park.”
Suck the goal in
Occasionally, these terms cross over into the genuinely weird-sounding, but “sucking a goal in” refers to when the fans are so enthusiastic that they will their team to score.
This would seem to mean “a manager doing a great job of developing a gameplan for victory,” but in reality you only hear it from the footballing media when a team managed by Jose Mourinho wins a game.