10 Very Modern Sporting Cliches

10 Very Modern Sporting Cliches
By Conor Neville
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Cliches move with the times too. Here are the cliches that have sprouted up like weeds in the last few years.

1. Champions League Style Format

Back in the day those tired with the provincial championships used to talk about the 'open draw'. An open draw was the go to alternative to what he had at that time.

An open draw, for instance. is what Galway hurling people, sick of only playing their first championship match in July or August, used to demand.

But now, an open draw is old hat. Now, we're all about the 'Champions League style format'. When people express discontent about the way the season is run, it's never long before the magic words 'Champions League Style format' come tumbling from their lips.

2.   He's done ever so well

Unique to football. We're not sure how long it's been around, but it has, in recent years, been popularised (if that's the right word) by Jamie Redknapp and Paul Merson on Sky. Since then, the sentence seems to have lodged itself in footballers' brains like a song one can't get out of one's head.


It's difficult to see why it has become so popular. The phrase is not a masterpiece of concision. It essentially does the same work as would the sentence 'He did well'.

3.  Hipster

Not a phrase associated with sport until well after the turn of the 21st century.


Hipsters back in Red Foreman's day were incense-mongering, rock music enthusiasts with long shanks of girly hair blocking out their faces, who had little time for the neanderthal oppression of competitive sport.

Now it is a phrase that conjures up an image of a studious but cynical football fan, reading long tomes on tactics, tweeting foreign football journalists, listening to the Guardian podcast and hating television football pundits.

Here is our acclaimed 25 steps to becoming a football hipster from early 2013, though it being all of 18 months ago, true hipsters have probably moved on and will regard many of the tropes as hopelessly out of date.


Of course, the grand irony at the heart of hipsterdom has intruded in recent times. Meaning that the phrase 'hipster' itself, as a result of it's pervasiveness, has become massively unhip.

Even being a hipster now is probably unhip.

4.   El Classico (and jokingly calling other derbies El Classico)


The Barcelona-Real Madrid fixture used to be known in this part of the world as 'the Barcelona-Madrid game'. Now people would look at you strangely if you called it that.

With the ascension of Spanish football in the past decade, people have begun to adopt the argot of the blessed Spanish game. It started off as a thing only said by footballing intellectuals and commentators with a cultured, cosmopolitan outlook (a la George Hamilton) but now it has inescapably mainstream.

People have begun to use it ironically with reference to other derbies, in the League of Ireland for instance. The Longford Town-Athlone Town game, for instance, is now routinely referred to as the 'Midlands El Classico', even in organs that favour a formal tone.


Soon the word 'derby' itself will be redundant.

5. Stephen Cluxton's kick-outs


A rather specific one this.


Kick-outs used to be regarded simply as a means of restarting the game, immune from the skullduggery of tactics and almost incidental to the outcome of the game. Just horse the ball into the middle and let the midfields duke it out. They were essentially akin to a referee's throw-up.

Not anymore. Kick-outs can now decide the winning and losing of a match. And it is impossible to talk about Dublin games without expounding on Stephen Cluxton and his kick-outs. These wondrous beauties have been credited in many quarters with deciding the outcome of the 2013 All-Ireland football final among numerous other games.

Cluxton is like Tom Brady and Gianluigi Buffon all rolled into one.

6. 'Fringes', 'Breakdown', 'Physicality'

These three words are the building blocks of all rugby analysis and the copious use of them is enough to intimidate any GAA fan who's hopped on the glamorous rugby bandwagon in the past few years.

No one ever talks about 'crooked in's' anymore in rugby (that was phenomenon whereby a scrum half doesn't put the ball 'in straight' as people tend to say now.)

 7. Parking the Bus

A new phrase to describe an old phenomenon. Teams have been going out to defend in the hope of securing a scoreless draw for decades upon decades upon decades.

And yet, a phrase uttered by Jose Mourinho of all people (no stranger to the tactic) has now become inescapable. Teams are routinely accused of parking the bus, usually by the managers and fans of teams who have just watched their team pummel the opposition but go away with a 0-0 draw.

8. Take a Bow Son

Another deeply annoying phrase that is inextricably intertwined with the voice of Andy Gray.

Even now, almost four years after he was banished from the cock-pit of modern football, the Sky Sports commentary booth, to the tranquil outpost that is Al-Jazeera, it is impossible to hear the phrase in one's mind without hearing Andy's growling yet excitable Scottish voice.

9. Unbelievable Jeff

An homage to the scourge of street thieves everywhere (well especially in Brazil), Chris Kamara. The phrase is to be uttered whenever something unbelievable and/or unexpected happens. Employed in any field from football to rugby to GAA to politics to banking crises.

10. Tiki-Taka (and sneering at tiki-taka)

Meaning 'touch-touch', the era of tiki-taka is over, amid much rejoicing from those who grew tired of Barcelona winning the whole time.

Where you stand on the tiki-taka thing is a decider for where you stand on other things, such as the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi debate. Those who luxuriate in tiki-taka tend to be Messi partisans who harbour a visceral dislike of the bronzed, preening and otherwordly Ronaldo.

Those who have grown tired of the repetitive sterility of tiki-taka tend to exalt the power and pace of Ronaldo, thumbing their nose at the pretentious intellectuals who made love to Barcelona for so many years.



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