In the interest of promoting what I think is one of the best (and, in this country at least, most underrated) places to find good use of the English language, it’s time for Football Talk.
First of all, we’re talking about the Other Football, the kind played in short pants. There’s another essay out there that concerns why I am rapidly losing interest in American/gridiron/NFL football, but for now let it be enough to say that my interest in the Association Game is growing to fill the void. Specifically, I am following the English Premier League, because football is best when the games are called by great old British football experts. And the greatest of these is Jon Champion. If you want to hear some fluid and clever English sentences, you could do worse than tune in.
Here are some good example taken from this past week’s games. These aren’t necessarily Champion at his best– these are just everyday Champion, calling ordinary early season games without the (football) world at stake. (Bournemouth /Manchester City and Chelsea/Everton, for those scoring at home.) I have a notebook that is growing full of this stuff, and I think it is influencing some of my writing for the better.
- On a particularly fine goal: “They’ll be talking about that for a generation or more.” (later) “It’s a fullback’s fantasy!”
- “Halftime, in the sunshine, on the south coast”.
- On Everton’s new uniforms: “Everton, in unfamiliar grey, almost light enough to be called off-white; it looks like a kit that’s gone through the washing machine badly.”
- A previous game between the two was “thrilling, dramatic, destructive”.
- “It’s a warm old day for playing football; it’s a grand day for watching it.”
- Chelsea was “at the moment, the side with most of the wit and virtually all of the imagination.”
- A striker kicks the ball far into the crowd: “He sent that halfway to Hammersmith.”
- At the end of the game: “Only now, with time ebbing away, are Chelsea being asked any kind of serious questions.”
(Final scores: Bournemouth 1- City 2, Chelsea 2, Everton nil. Elsewhere, unseen on US television, Burnley tied Tottenham 1-1 in the last moments, driving Hotspur fans slightly crazy. Come on, you Spurs.)