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The Darke Side: Football Clichés

Ian Darke on what sporting stars say – and what they really mean

8 April 2020

Harry Redknapp being interviewed after Pompey win the FA Cup

Football can get lost in translation and caught in a crossfire of clichés. The game has a lazy language of its own – and we are all guilty of using it.

Call it a type of soccer shorthand. But what the heck do we all really mean?

Here’s an admittedly cynical attempt to translate the phrases you hear every day in all those interviews and press conferences.

“We will give it 110 per cent.” – No you won’t. The maximum possible is 100.

“We are hoping to get a result at their place.” – We will take a draw all day long.

“Taking every match as it comes.” – A token answer to substitute for any proper analysis of a team’s chances.

“We have banned the word promotion.” – A desperate attempt by a manager to ease pressure and lower expectation at top-of-the-table clubs.

“Buzzin’.” – Happy.

“Gutted.” – Unhappy.

“Give him a tap early doors.” – An attempt to cynically intimidate a gifted opponent by kicking him the first time you get a chance.

“There are no easy games in this division.” – Please try to understand if we lose at home to a struggling team.

“I’m not going to talk about the referee.” – He was hopeless, but I can’t afford the fine from The FA.

“They’ve just come and parked the bus.” – We did not have a clue how to break them down.

“I’m not going to rush into changes.” – None of the other players are good enough to step in.

“I never read the papers.” – I ALWAYS read the papers and hate what they’re saying about me.

“We go again next week.” – We were awful this week.

“We need the fans to play their part.” – Because the efforts of our 11 players might not be enough.

“We really need a mid-season break.” – We need to play a lucrative friendly in America.

“Made no mistake from the spot.” – Scored a penalty.

Next time you hear me commentating and I use any of the above, feel free to write in and complain.

That will be next time I’m on, then!

This column first appeared in this season's Pompey v Coventry matchday magazine.

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