Nobody's Perfect Football's Coming Home

Samstag, 20.45 Uhr, zwei deutsche Teams im Wembley-Stadion, für Insulaner: Shocking! Unser Lieblingsbrite Ian McMaster kennt fiese Fußballfloskeln und feine Fangesänge. Fürs Finale Bayern gegen Dortmund hat er einen Musikwunsch frei - but now let's switch to English.

Jürgen Klinsmann mit Queen und EM-Pokal (Wembley 1996): Nee, war dat schön!
picture-alliance/ dpa

Jürgen Klinsmann mit Queen und EM-Pokal (Wembley 1996): Nee, war dat schön!

"A prediction; The final will be played by 22 men kicking a ball about for 90 minutes, and at the end the Germans will win" (Gary Lineker on Twitter)

The football season is finally over in England. Manchester United are the champions, Wigan won the FA cup, Chelsea won the Europa League, and my team, West Ham, came a very respectable tenth in the Premier League. Excellent.

OK, OK, I know, the season is not quite over. There's still one more important game to come at Wembley: England's friendly against the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday 29 May. But then we can all turn our attention to cricket.

I've forgotten something? Just joking. Of course I've heard that there's another "friendly" at Wembley on Saturday, 25 May between two German teams. I don't know why they need to go to London to play each other, but I'm sure they'll have a good time.

In fact, I think it's wonderful that Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are in the Champions League final in our capital. For two reasons. First, this guarantees that a German team will actually win at Wembley. (Note: that is not really funny, because, after their defeat in 1966, the German - or West German - team won at Wembley in 1972, 1982, 1991, 1996 and 2000.)


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Wembley-Tor: Niemals war der drin!
The match in 1996 was Germany's semi-final victory on their way to winning the European Championship. At the time, England's tournament song was "Three Lions", with its famous "football's coming home" lyrics. How ironic it would be - and how painful for the English - if the Bayern and Dortmund fans sang that song together at Wembley before the game. Go on! I dare you!

The second reason why I like the idea of an all-German final is purely economic. Britain and its public finances are in such dire straits that they need all the bailout help they can get from rich Germans. So, if you're in London for the weekend, please spend as much as possible in our pubs, restaurants, hotels, shops, clubs, and, well, wherever else you go after the game…

"Keep it on the island, mate!"

German fans will, I am sure, be given a great welcome. Anti-German nonsense can still be found in Britain's tabloids, but normal Brits admire Germany for its efficiency and, increasingly, its football. They have also discovered that Germans are fun, including their "comedy ambassador" to Britain, Henning Wehn.

To help you to become a member of the British football community - before, during or after the game - here's a short guide. First, you need some typical football clichés, not all of which follow standard grammar:

  • It's a funny old game, innit?
  • It was a game of two halfs.
  • We was/wuz robbed. (The referee was terrible.)
  • We done well. (Instead of "we played well".)
  • We played them off the park. (We dominated the game.)
  • We were/was all over them. (We dominated the game.)
  • It only takes a second to score a goal.
  • It's not over till the final whistle.

For more soccer-related language, see here.

You also need to shout abuse during the game. If a defender kicks the ball a long way off the pitch, you can shout "Keep it on the island, mate!" If a striker can't shoot on target, you could say, "He couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo". And if a player has been generally useless, you can say, "He's done sweet FA!". The initials "FA" stand for the Football Association, the governing body of English football. But "FA" or "sweet FA" is also a more polite way of saying "F*** all", a vulgar expression that means "absolutely nothing". If you want to be really colloquial, you can say, "He ain't done f-all".

Well, I might even take up German nationality...

Songs and chants are a key part of football. Two melodies are particularly important. First, the chorus of "Guantanamera", known to German fans from Ein Rudi Völler , es gibt nur ein Rudi Völler. In English, it goes like this: "One Arjen Robben, there's only one Arjen Robben", or, if you can speak incredibly quickly, "One Robert Lewandowski, there's only…". The same melody can also be used to taunt opposing fans when your team silences them by scoring an equalizing goal: "Sing when you're winning. You only sing when you're winning".

The second important football melody is also used to silence opposing fans. It is based - culture alert! - on the Welsh hymn, "Cwm Rhondda", and often known in English as "Bread of heaven". It was sung in full at the last royal wedding, but all you need is the last part of the chorus, to which you sing: "You're not singing / You're not singing / You're not singing anymore / You're not singing anymore". Here's a typically unmelodic version.

Many clubs have their own songs, of course, such as "You'll never walk alone", Liverpool's song of solidarity. My sorry team, West Ham, on the other hand, has one about our dreams fading and dying:

"I'm forever blowing bubbles
Pretty bubbles in the air
They fly so high
Nearly reach the sky
Then like my dreams
They fade and die"

Now, if I can hear all you Bayern and Dortmund fans singing that song on Saturday while I'm watching the game on TV, I'll seriously consider taking up German nationality.

And may the better team win.

Zum Autor
  • Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur von "Business Spotlight", des alle zwei Monate erscheinenden Magazins für Wirtschaftsenglisch. Er ist Brite, lebt seit 1989 in München, ist ausgebildeter Lehrer für Wirtschaftsenglisch und Co-Autor des Buches "Effective International Business Communication" (Collins).
  • Sprachmagazin "Business Spotlight"

insgesamt 8 Beiträge
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segeln10 24.05.2013
1. keep on writing,please
i always appreciate your articles very much. Thanks for them!
jumpseat 24.05.2013
2. Brilliant....
new song: Ian McMaster is the blaster.
benaulcar 24.05.2013
3. Lovely article
but no need to change your nationality. We love you Brits for your wit, your always apologizing for everything wrong on this planet and for being so wonderfully eccentric! Keep it up, mate!
herr minister 24.05.2013
4. not amused
Nice to see that even in Britain humor and football doesn´t go together.
karend 24.05.2013
5. Hilarious
I even loved the bailout bit. Blimey!
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