Carole

I thought that a Y-chromosome was required to understand the offside rule. Those experts on genetics, science (and the English language) the football pundits have spoken. And for once they have spoken in words which (unfortunately for them) were easily understood.

Ayra

First, you’re right to call “the beautiful game” football. It is football across the world: the governing bodies include - Fédération Internationale de Football Association, Union des Associations Européennes de Football and Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol. Even the French call it football. Proof positive that’s what the game is called.

Carole has covered most of the points. The football calendar is crowded. There are league matches (played between clubs in the same league, obviously) and cup matches (which are knockout competitions), taking place at the same time. The top teams also play in the European League.

Manchester United are loved or loathed, there is no middle ground. The joke is that everyone who lives in Manchester supports Manchester City. It isn’t true, but their fame wealth and power (and tragic history) mean that Manchester United is one of the most famous (and widely supported) teams in the world.

Most rivalries are local, and derby games (between two teams geographically close to each other) are always passionate and there is sometimes trouble from the fans. I know an Everton supporter and I’d have to disagree with Carole. Everton MUST beat Liverpool, and vice versa. In Sheffield the rivalry is between Sheffield United (the Blades) and Sheffield Wednesday (the Owls).

In my part of the world the rivalry between Newcastle United (the Magpies) and Sunderland (the Black Cats) is almost insane. Sunderland play in red and white stripes. The hatred of those colours in Newcastle is such that, at Christmas, you can buy black and white Santa hats (Newcastle play in black and white stripes).

The atmosphere in “the Toon” (Newcastle) on derby day is electric (and marked buy a massive police presence). The Makkams (Sunderland folk) make the difficult and dangerous journey from south of the River Wear to north of the River Tyne (it’s fifteen miles at most) into the land of the Geordies. And then they watch their team get slaughtered 5-1 Even now, months later, it’s not uncommon to see the word Sunderland written 5under1and.

The gloating rights last until the other team finally manages to defeat their rivals. The rivalries run into everything. Sunderland used to play at a stadium called Roker Park. The Geordies called it Joker Park. The Makkams built a new stadium and grandly (and foolishly) called it The Stadium of Light. Geordies automatically replace the L with the letters Sh… The BBC local radio station runs two separate commentaries on the game, one for Sunderland and one for Newcastle. Even if you aren’t attending a game, if you are in Newcastle on derby day you can tell when a goal has been scored, because you can hear the roar for miles. The chants and songs at the grounds are almost always crude and very rude.

Football even has its own language, its pundits, over the years have shown a cavalier disregard for English.
Sometimes the language it’s simple ‘Set piece,’ ‘It’s a game of two halves.’
Sometimes it’s odd ‘Early Doors’ ‘We’ve got a result’ (personally, I hate the second – of course you’ve got a result. Even losing 5-1 (sorry Sunderland fans – no, actually, I’m not) is a result!)
Sometimes you wish that the commentator had a brain 'I don't think there's anyone bigger or smaller than Maradona.' (to be fair, that one almost makes sense) 'They're the second best team in the world, and there's no higher praise than that.' 'We deserved to win this game after hammering them 0-0 in the first half' 'We managed to wrong a few rights.' (These are all from Kevin Keegan, a former Newcastle manager and a man often referred to on Tyneside as King Kev, or God.)

Sometimes it’s almost profound as Bill Shankley’s famous: 'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.'

What more can I add to that?

Neil