The genius of Football Cliches

October 7, 2014, Article by Tom in Books, Books, Football, Sport


If you follow us on Twitter (curse you if you don’t, fools), you’ll have noticed that quite often on a Saturday afternoon we can be found retweeting @FootballCliches, Adam Hurrey’s glorious analysis of the often absurd language, mannerisms, opinions and iconography that define the beautiful game. Crackers such as these…


Well, this 24 karat Twitter gold has now been made into an equally superb book, the perfectly titled Football Cliches. Deconstructing the ridiculous things that pundits, players, managers and fans say, it’s an absolutely screamer. We loved it so much that we placed it right in the top corner of our rundown of the best sport books of 2014. Here are a few little snippets from this shiny, yellowy, beautiful beast…

The Dictionary

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The Disciplinary Tightrope

Footballers’ perpetual sense of injustice means that almost any type of foul is subject to appeal. Here are just a few:

The cynical foul: Cynical is used by co-commentators to describe any foul that looks even slightly deliberate. For the perpetrator, there is a hands-up acceptance of his fate, like entering a guilty plea in court. Despite claiming the mitigation of it being his first foul in the match (there’s that forefinger again), a yellow card is likely to be forthcoming. If it halts a promising opposition counterattack, the co-commentator will use his playing experience to confirm that the booked player will quite happily take that.

Welcome to the Premier League: The standard English top-flight welcome pack for new foreign signings consists of three items: a pair of oversized headphones, a designer washbag and an agricultural challenge from an old-fashioned centre-half.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other: A coming-together or wrestling match that lacks a clear instigator may be referred to as six of one (this particular cliché is established enough to be left incomplete) or, if the co-commentator is sufficiently leftfield, six and two threes. Further TV replays will confirm that the two players were, indeed, both at it.

5 of the 101 Ways to Score a Goal’

  • 4. Thundered: Suitable for describing shots travelling above the ground, which either go in or strike against the woodwork.
  • 14. Thumped: If a thumping takes place from close-range and/or thanks to a goalkeeping howler, it may well be gleefully undertaken. As with a hammering, this act of blunt trauma can also be applied to an entire scoreline, should the margin of victory be sufficiently comprehensive.
  • 42. Stroked: Like passing it in, this requires the sort of composure traditionally found on the Continent. Stroking the ball home is also an option from the penalty spot.
  • 66. Trickled: That heartbreaking way that a ball crosses the line after a defensive mix-up between a hapless goalkeeper and one of his Keystone Cops defenders.
  • 97. Went for power over placement: Related to, if anything, hitting the ball almost too well. Opting for power over placement often results in merely stinging the palms of the goalkeeper.

The Alan Hansen Defending Continuum

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That’s just a brief look at some of the ruddy great stuff packed into Football Cliches by Adam Hurrey, published Thursday 9th October. Order your own copy here. You won’t regret it (unless you’re Andy Townsend, in which case you might feel a little… disheartened).

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