So I was watching football on TV the other day when the announcer said:
“What a lovely, deft touch.”
What kind of football announcer uses those words to describe a play? An English football announcer, that’s who.
In other words, a soccer announcer. Lately, I have been gulping in massive draughts of English soccer on the Fox Soccer Channel. The differences between the announcing styles are comical. Someday, I would love to hear Troy Aikman utter the following words:
“There are six or seven players out there fancying their chances.”
Nobody in the NFL, NBA or MLB has ever fancied anything. But I heard that line this week, in the middle of a match between Manchester City and the Tottenham Hotspurs. “Fancy” is, of course, a British-ism for “be fond of,” but it’s a term that Americans simply don’t fancy.
A lot of phrases strike me as comical simply because of the differences in American and English slang, as in the following actual lines:
“Both sides are sussing each other out.”
“He feels like his team were hard done by in the first half.”
“That goal was as cheeky as it can be.”
Somehow, I can’t imagine Craig Ehlo braying, “That Matt Bouldin three-pointer was so … cheeky!”
Other lines strike me as funny because they employ unfamiliar soccer terminology, as in:
“It’s the big striker and the flick-on to the little striker!”
“He just got a little bit of the nutmegs there.”
“The keeper will have no clean sheet tonight.”
What? That sounds like a particularly nasty insult, but “clean sheet” simply means a clean score sheet. In other words, a shutout. A “nutmeg” is a ball passed through another player’s legs, so named because … oh, use your imagination.
However, it sometimes boils down to this: The average British sportscaster has a more elegant vocabulary than the average American sportscaster and possibly even the average American poetry professor.
The word “lovely” is heard multiple times per game. I have even heard plays described as “sumptuous.”
A few more examples:
“He is the silkiest of strikers.”
“We are in the dying embers of this game.”
“Tottenham are painting a pretty picture here.”
“They have no answers to the questions that Arsenal are posing.”
“I don’t think he has troubled the back of the net on a regular basis.”
The best lines come during those rare soccer moments when someone actually troubles the back of the net, or, as we say in America, scores.
I have heard a goal described as “a picture-book goal,” “a glooo-rious goal” and a “goal laid on a plate.”
And the best goal of all?
“That was a wonder goal from James Milner!”
A wonder goal? Actually, that does sound a lot like a Matt Bouldin three-pointer.