Book Review: Bendelow and Kidd’s Dictionary of Football

Posted by on Aug 12, 2016 in Book Review | No Comments
Book Review: Bendelow and Kidd’s Dictionary of Football

Bendelow and Kidd’s Dictionary of Football
Published by Bennion Kearny
2016, £8.05

The army of terms required to talk convincingly about football has been a great source of mirth over the years. As far back as the 1970s, footballers were depicted as alternating between being ‘over the moon’ or ‘sick as a parrot’ depending on their feelings at 5 o’clock on a Saturday while Ron Atkinson let loose a whole new phalanx of phrases during his co-commentating days alongside Clive Tyldesley – to the extent that ‘crowd scene’, ‘little eyebrows’ and the daddy of them all, ‘early doors’ started to gain common currency.

Ian Bendelow and Jamie Kidd are the latest to draw attention to the sheer glorious illogicality of soccer phraseology. That they are merely the latest is the one criticism one might level at their eponymous Dictionary of Football, for this exercise was carried out in pretty much identical fashion in Leigh and Woodhouse’s Football Lexicon published in the early Noughties and re-republished for as wider audience by Faber & Faber in 2004.

Happily, this doesn’t detract from the readability of Bendelow and Kidd’s effort, nor from its wit or enjoyability – the vernacular of football is ever changing and the template was well overdue an update – while I was left guffawing into my cornflakes by turn.

Hence, the rise of newer phenomena are reflected in entries for the ‘Pulis and Pardew Effects’, ‘dreaded metatarsal’, ‘worldie’, ‘permacrock’, ‘second season syndrome’, and ‘squeaky bum time’. Indeed, some of these have become so common that they have lent themselves to the names of blogs and websites – ‘Good Feet for a Big Man’ and ‘Narrow the Angle’ are two that spring to mind.

Kidd’s father played for Morpeth Town in an earlier age and the dictionary’s Northeast characteristics occasionally shine through – the entry for ‘Cockney Mafia’ is an especially neat summation of the influence of certain foreign bodies on the fortunes of Newcastle United:

Five Individuals who caused much ire among the Geordie nation in 2008. They were Mike Ashley, Dennis Wise, Derek Llambias, Joe Kinnear and Tony Jimenez. Somewhat of an inaccurate geographical slur as four of the five hailed from Buckinghamshire, Gibraltar, Dublin and Spain. Only Wise is a dyed-in-the-wool Londoner. Their main achievements include bringing in world-recognised talents such as Xisco, Ignacio Gonzales and relegation.

That the examples used to illustrate the terminology was a device used by Leigh and Woodhouse is repeated here; once again becoming one of the most hilarity-provoking elements of the whole exercise. Hence, the likes of Cherno Samba, Darron Gibson, Mike Dean, Sam Winnall and Whitehawk FC all find themselves immortalised in print and with a slightly better chance of escaping obscurity.

Published by an imprint of Bennion Kearny who have provided us with not a few interesting soccer titles in recent times, the book would be ideal as the proverbial stocking filler and is worth constructing an extra shelf in the bathroom within reach of the toilet as an alternative to those quiet moments of contemplation.

Above all, I was struck by the amount of phrases that have crept into my discourse in non-football contexts – I’ve found myself referring to a Head of a Marketing department as a ’tough taskmaster’, ‘pandemonium’ in the break-out area and a ‘hot reception’ to a talk on open access publishing provided by a work colleague. As a mode of communication for our times, football beats business speak any day of the week.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

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