In the opening match, the rank outsider in the Group of Death lost by the odd goal in three when they were at sixes and sevens defensively at the death. To avoid any rush of blood to the head in the second match, their gaffer decided to park the bus.
After an early penalty kick that the minnow’s captain duly put away, it was a ding-dong war of attrition with waves of tiki-taka crashing against a wall of catenaccio, 2014 style. When the underdog’s striker sent a shot into the infamous Row Z, he crumpled to the ground, and tensions flared amidst accusations of simulation. Yet it was really only handbags at ten paces.
Late on, it was rousing Roy of the Rovers stuff, as the underdogs survived squeaky bum time and hung on for the one-nil win. The result had the minnow’s supporters dancing the Poznan. The result was truly the perfect riposte to the pre-match crowing of the frontrunner’s fans.
WTF, and what the hell are those British soccer commentators—like Ian Darke, above and, hilariously, in this date commentary video—talking about, anyway? What exactly do handbags, ding-dongs and squeaky bums have to do with the World Cup?
Relax. We’ve got the scoop on how to impress World Cup aficionadas with your soccer savvy when you’re downing caipirinhas, Guinness or Buds at the local pub during the tournament. Here’s a quick glossary of key terms—and goofy ones.
Group of Death: A tournament group in which at least three of four teams are serious contenders to advance, meaning at least one really good team won’t make it. The U.S. group that also includes Germany, Ghana and Portugal is widely considered this World Cup’s G.O.D.
The Odd Goal in Three: A match in which the final score is 2-1.
Sixes and Sevens: When confusion reigns, usually in a defensive situation.
At the Death: The very end of a match. When a player scores in, say, the 89th minute of a 90-minute match, commentators will invariable refer to it as a goal at the death.
Rush of Blood to the Head: A sudden attack of wild irrationality, usually ending in a shot that has no chance of hitting the back of the net.
Gaffer: A team’s manager or coach.
Park the Bus: A defensive-minded strategy in which a team keeps all its players in front of its own goal and makes little attempt to score.
Minnows: Weaker teams. Underdogs.
Ding-dong: High-stakes, intense, as in a battle or closely contested match.
Tiki-taka: A playing style composed of quick, short passes and fast off-the-ball movement, which propelled Spain to the 2010 World Cup title.
Catenaccio: A tactical system that puts an emphasis on defense, perfected by Italy in the 1960s. The word is actually Italian for “door-bolt.”
The Infamous Row Z: Where a high and wild shot on goal ostensibly goes.
Simulation: Acting as though one has been fouled when one has not been fouled. Referees can now penalize players for this offense, thankfully.
Handbags at Ten Paces: Since any hand to the face means a red card, players engage in a girly push and shove, akin to swinging purses at each other from a safe distance.
Roy of the Rovers: A decades-old British comic strip about a fictional soccer player named Roy Race who played for the Melchester Rovers. The comic often featured dramatic results that went against the odds, so “Roy of the Rovers stuff” happens when an underdog defies expectations.
Squeaky Bum Time: A phrase coined by legendary Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson to describe the last tense minutes of a close match.
Dancing the Poznan: A celebration associated with fans of the Polish team Lech Poznań. The fans stand with their backs to the field and jump in unison.
The Perfect Riposte: A timely reply to criticism. In the context of a match, scoring a goal after surrendering a goal is considered “the perfect riposte!”
OK, now that we’re up to speed, the ultimate aim is to score more than the enemy, even if it’s by one solitary goal. And, international broadcasters have similar ways of expressing a score from Gooooool to Golazo. But British announcers like Ray Hudson are known for their hyperbole when describing a goal. Using a combo of mixed metaphors, dodgy Shakespearisms, and broken English overstatement, Hudson’s beauties can include: a William Tell hit, a Darth Vader death ray of a strike, a radioactive shot, a flame thrower, the finish is nothing less than magisterial, or it was a Bernini sculpture of a goal! We’ll leave you with the Hudson classic below. If it makes any sense at all, you’ve clearly been paying attention…