Sending the Goalkeeper up for a Corner


For a certain generation of men — it’s mostly men — whose world views were formed while eight-seasons deep in Championship Manager 2000/01 the simplest way to explain what’s going on in the planet is the football cliche metaphor, Jim.

Thus, when someone enters an argument with a full-blooded riposte; they’ve “‘gone in two-footed”’. If things take a turn for the ad hominem they’ve “‘taken the man not the ball”’; if it’s a dialectical shoeing, then it’s “‘the full Cantona at Selhurst Park”’. Which can simply become a one-word verb form. Ie, “Did you hear Alex Salmond Cantona Jim Murphy on Radio 4 this morning?”

This extends across the game. A friend refers to the items in his wardrobe as his “squad”, buying new shirts in the allotted “transfer window” of the January sales. Good TV shows or books become “worldies”; a pub with a good vibe has a “cup tie atmosphere” or, if things are really kicking off — your karaoke nights, your quiz nights — it could be described as “one of those special European nights”.

Such rhetorical turns lend an air of romance and drama to quotidian proceedings, giving a heightened profile to dull, everyday tasks and turning a trip on the Tube into an opportunity for prime-time punditry: “The lad’s done well, giving up his seat to a pregnant woman, there. That’s what you like to see.”

It can also help compartmentalise complex/unknown aspects of life, via comforting, bitesize analogies and platitudes, perhaps using the expansion in the European Championship qualification to explain the
impending all-party meltdown at the general election. (Briefly, the greater chance of qualifying/forming part of a coalition government leads the smaller countries/parties to proverbially send the goalkeeper up for a corner and really go for broke).

The possibilities, like Fergie time, are endless. For me.


This post comes from a weekly email mainly written by Sam and Larry, designed by Ronan with illustrations by Jacky. Subscribe here.

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