Spend any time with football fans and certain universal truths will begin to reveal themselves: parrots are sick, barn doors should be hit with banjos, and opposing teams very rarely like it up them.
Such phrases are, safe to say, all set to be given a good airing in homes, gardens and pubs across the country on Sunday night when – have you heard? – there’s a game on.
England play Italy in the first major final that the national men’s team has reached since literally before man walked on the moon.
And, after more than 24 million people watched Wednesday’s semi-final victory over Denmark, it’s thought Sunday’s audience could bring some of the biggest TV viewing numbers ever. Aye, maybe even bigger even than when Den told Angie he wanted a divorce.
All of which inevitably means the more seasoned supporter will find themselves having to explain the finer points of the beautiful game to, er, more mixed ability friends and family. Such as yes, England are playing in white. Or no, that’s just how Roy Keane always is.
But don’t worry if you, yourself, are something of an amateur. Don’t worry if you don’t know your elbow from your Insigne. We, at The Independent, have got you covered.
Here’s our cut-out-and-keep guide to the football phrases that will help football bluffers blag their way through the Euro 2020 final…
Couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo
Said when a striker keeps missing easy chances to score. Once upon a time – about two weeks ago – Harry Kane couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo. Which is to say he went three – three! – whole games without netting a goal. Many people demanded he be dropped. Then he banged in four in the next three matches. And a lot of tweets got hastily deleted.
He’s putting a shift in
He isn’t, of course. Putting a shift in is doing 10 hours down a coal mine then walking three miles home to save on bus fare. All Declan Rice does, really, is run around a footy pitch for an hour and a half. Still, perhaps this isn’t the time to quibble. As such, anyone who’s perceived to be expending a lot of energy for the team qualifies for the accolade: doing a decent shift.
A good touch for a big man
Compulsorily deployed when anyone taller than 6ft makes a moderately decent pass.
Parking the bus
A not-entirely complimentary phrase referring to a team that plays ultra-defensively, appears to have no real desire to go forward and hopes to score on any rare counterattack that happens to unfold (see also: smash and grab raid). Some have dared suggest that England’s habit of playing with four or five defenders and two holding midfielders has a hint of bus parking about it. Others say: tickets please, Gareth is our conductor!
A game of two halves
Unless there’s extra time in which case, of course, it’s a game of four halves.
2-0 is a dangerous lead
To be said, sage-like, when your team is winning 2-0 as a means of pointing out that a two-goal advantage brings the risk of complacency, losing momentum and allowing the opponents to get a toehold in the game. Conversely, never, ever to be said when losing 2-0 – when a two-goal disadvantage feels like the absolute bottom of a mountain.
It could be a cricket score
As in: England ran up a cricket score against Ukraine. Very much a saying beloved by pundits and dads.
A no-nonsense midfielder
A brute of a player. A destroyer; a demolisher. There to break both the opposition’s attacks and spirit; someone who doesn’t so much ignore the rules occasionally as fly in hard on them with studs up. Or, if you will, Kalvin Phillips.
Sick as a parrot
Why football fans presume parrots to be especially unhealthy birds remains something of a mystery. But either way, when an important match (such as a European Championship final) has just been lost, do be prepared for your emotional state to be roughly comparable, apparently, with that of a poorly psittaciform.
It’s coming home
Depending on your viewpoint, an arrogant declaration of English exceptionalism that appears to whitewash the fact football may have been invented in the far east or a self-knowing lament to half a century of unfulfilled sporting dreams. Either way, you probably already know what this means because – admit it – you’ve found yourself humming it over the last few days. It couldn’t be… could it?
Source: The Independent