Irish football speak - EPL RUNT wont like it

Glossary of Irish Football Speak…footballspeak/

Language is important. Some say it defines how we think, or even what we think.

Some bandwagonning Irish football fans of the English or Scottish Premierships dont like to think of themselves as separate from proper British supporters (even though, paradoxically, they would be horrified to be considered British in any other way).

Thats why they put on funny Manchester and London accents, although the Glasgow accent may be a bit of a stretch for them.

It also is why they, especially when they are members of the media, sometimes test the limits of language and its capacity for doublethink and euphemism. This glossary attempts to provide insight into a few of the terms, and their usages, in order to dispel potential confusion on the part of our old friend, the proverbial Martian landing in Ireland (assuming s/he/it has gotten over the GAA).

Please, please if you can think of any additions to make, make full use of the comment box below.

In no particular order

Across the water = in England. The established convention with which to refer to the dominant nation in the other island without acknowledging that its another country, and without bringing up unhelpful connotations of 800 years of oppression.

We = a club in England with which the speaker identifies. To be heard in general conversation, from pubs to sports reporters and even news anchors getting down with the kids. As in We (Liverpool) were all over you (Chelsea), or, Were a big Man U family, you know. Or, in Roddy Doyle, We were always Leeds.

Us = as above.

Foreigners = players, owners, or fans from outside Ireland or Britain . As in Foreigners are ruining the game. Sometimes this concept is extended, without irony, to disparage other unworthy outsiders, such as Londoners who support Manchester United.

The Used in sports reporting or in general discourse, unless it is qualified by specific reference to another jurisdiction, the definite article can be taken to specify an English reference. So we have

The match = any match between two top EPL teams, or involving any British team in Europe.
The league = the English Premier League.
The season = the English football season.
The game = the game in England. As in, Money is killing the game.
The window you get the drift?

Talented youngster = an Irish player gamely competing with Godless locals and foreigners for a place in (usually) an English lower league or reserve teams. The locals have an unfair advantage because when growing up they didnt have to contend with the distraction of GAA, and because of suspected favouritism bordering on anti-Irish racism. And of course because they arent missing their mammies, Dave OLeary-style. The foreigners have the upper hand because they come from countries in Africa where millions of them are privileged to have nothing to do other than practise football with goats heads. Poverty, you see, gives them an unfair advantage, because poor people make better footballers. Alternatively, the nasty foreigners taking our places have an advantage simply because they are French or Spanish.

Failure = 1. a young League of Ireland player not selected to play for Grimsby, Falkirk, or Barnsley; 2. a League of Ireland player who comes home from England. Expect this person to be patronised for the rest of his career in Ireland, by people breaking off from talking about The League and The Season.

Development = FAI-sponsored process of hot-housing kids so that they can become talented youngsters.

International prospect: 1. Any English person who can kick a ball and who has an Irish granny. Or, better still, a Scot with an Irish granny, which is sure to enrage Rangers folk; 2. Any Irish person who has moved from League of Ireland to play for an English team, from the third division upwards, or for any Scottish league team.

Enemy = the English any time, and in any context, but especially sport, other than when the speaker is expressing undying love of Liverpool, Arsenal or Manchester United.

Irish = 1. Anyone, though preferably Catholic, with an Irish granny who can kick a ball and will declare for the boys in green; 2. Manchester United, Liverpool, Celtic, and any team that features a single Irish player or has an Irish manager or coach. Latterly, Sunderland and Ipswich have been granted this honour.

Traitor = Anyone with an Irish granny who prefers to play for their country of birth if other than Ireland.

Alien = Someone wearing a League of Ireland jersey or talking about LoI. Culturally suspect.

Garrison game = Irish football in Ireland, and not outside Ireland, where it should be. Refers to the foreign sport played by occupying British soldiers. As with Enemy, above, nationalism is no obstacle to love of the game, once it is kept in its place, on the footballing mainland.

Soccer = Football. Especially in RT, where it appears use of the word is banned other than in reference to GAA.

Spectacle = What soccer is meant to be. Normally confined to television, though with the odd day trip to a cathedral of the game anywhere in the world other than in Ireland, or to see Ronaldo or Real Madrid stroke a ball around in their training camp.

Football = GAA. Great altogether activity. So great that, out of deference, all other nations have left this code for the exclusive use of the Irish.

Hooliganism = A problem ascribed to Irish football based on experiences in the English game. See Irish police and FAI security taking crowd control lessons from English police, the better to grapple with weird people who like watching football. Just as pathetic Irish hooligan wannabes ape film and television portrayals of English hooligans, so the security services around the Irish game ape over-the-top British tactics. Wouldnt happen in GAA.

Racism = as above. See the Give Racism The Red Card campaign, whose spokespersons are wont to cite abuse of players in English stadiums because they can unearth little more than a handful of minor incidents in LoI. Wouldnt happen in GAA.

All the action = Catchphrase of sports media that usually pointedly omit League of Ireland action while breathlessly reporting great deeds in sailing and cricket.

Tables = In newspapers, EPL, Championship, League One and Two, Blue Square League, Scottish League, Serie A, La Liga, random European countries leagues, possibly followed by League of Ireland in the smallest type available. Magnifying glass optional.

Fanzone = Section of newspaper dedicated to fans of EPL.

Certifiable = anyone who has anything to do with investment in or the running of a LoI football club, or who suggests that mass spectator sports other than GAA are deserving of public support.

Public service broadcasting = RT spending millions on showing highlights of English Premiership games that have already been shown on Sky, Setanta or ESPN, and which will later be shown on the BBC. Otherwise known as giving the people what they want.

Best fans in the world = Oft-repeated, rarely challenged claim referring to followers of the boys in green, known for their charming leprechaun costumes and inane cheery waving of bananas. Also known as ols, many of them have never been to a LoI game.

Our own = a player who has done good across the water. Most often heard in the context of cloying boosterism in the context of a grand Irish broth of a boy scoring a goal or providing an assist in the EPL, in the midst of all those foreigners. Nothing to do with our own league.

While here at home = Warning. We are about to talk about Irish football. Inserted at the start of the LoI section of sports bulletins. Translates loosely as here comes the boring public service bit.

Who do you really follow? = Ah no, seriously. You must love some English club to bits. This question is asked all of the time. Presumably, it features in a phrase book to help ordinary folk understand and communicate with LoI fans.

Tabloid = Nasty foreign newspaper with low-quality journalism. Term frequently deployed by respectable Irish media or their admirers to describe British newspapers in Ireland which mostly give far superior coverage to Irish football in Ireland.

Authentic = Arbitrary adoption of struggling lower division British club. Sometimes dilletante Irish fans tire of all their success and, blithely bypassing Irish clubs, seek out the real football experience in the lower echelons of the English leagues. Like Middlesborough. Or Scunthorpe. Hard core!