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Football Lexicon

Football Lexicon by John Leigh and David Woodhouse provides the fascinating story behind every stock phrase in football, from schoolboy howler to a Wednesday night in Rochdale.

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Why is a left foot either trusty or educated, but a right foot is neither?

Why is a bad back pass almost invariably suicidal?

Why can you score from a corner with a free header, but never with a free shot?

Why are hooligans always a tiny minority even when there seem to be hundreds of them throwing seats across Kenilworth Road?

Discover how stock phrases – schoolboy howler, sweeper system – are only part of the story in the artfully twisted language of football. Let Leigh and Woodhouse take you on a journey, from the top-flight vocabulary of commentators to the more speculative efforts of footballers, from the Champions League circus to a Wednesday night in Rochdale. And prepare to be very entertained.

‘The boys done terrific. A work of genius.’ Martin Kelner

‘This book is pure kwolity. And I mean kwolity with a capital K.’ Graham Spiers

A sort of Robbie Fowler’s Modern English Usage, the Football Lexicon provides an A to Row Z of the language of football, with over 800 examples of the set phrases we use to talk and write about the beautiful game.

Altercation: A rather euphemistic way of describing a bust-up, a dust-up, a situation where players square up, as in: ‘Bit of an altercation off the ball there.’ See also handbags.

Z: Row Z is a long way from the pitch and so, by inference, the hypothetical destination of any no-nonsense clearance. Defenders who put safety first by playing within their limitations can be praised, but a reference to the back of the stand may also depict a badly over-hit pass: ‘He tried to find Fredgaard on the other wing, but that’s gone straight into Row Z.’ Old-school managers may even condone their players putting the opposition into the stands along with the ball: ‘County boss Billy Dearden was left fuming: ‘O’Driscoll should have finished in Row Z but we were too nice.”