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Grammarman presents

By Thom Kiddle and Brian Boyd

Welcome to Football Crazy!

This is a collection of short,
pre-intermediate texts looking
at different aspects of
The Beautiful Game.

Each text is followed by tasks

aimed at developing skills such
as reading for gist, skimming,
scanning and key areas of vocabulary.

We hope you have fun practising your English with Football Crazy.

Shrovetide Football

The FA Cup

The Apprentice


Badges of Honour


Footballs Hits and Misses


Footballs Believe It or Not!


Going Underground


Just Flick to Kick


You Only Sing When Youre Winning!


Roy of the Rovers


The First Gentleman of Football


Talking Football


Answer key


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Shrovetide Football
Brian Boyd

Long before the FA existed, or the Cambridge Rules were drawn up in England,
the Romans, the Greeks and the Japanese all had the idea of kicking a ball
around for sport. In fact the ancestry of football can be traced right back to 200
BC, when the Chinese played a game called Tsu Chu, using a stuffed leather
ball. In medieval Britain, the forerunner to modern football was Shrovetide

Lent the forty day period of fasting that leads up to Easter begins on Ash
Wednesday, and the four days before Ash Wednesday are known as Shrovetide.
Traditionally, Shrovetide was a time to use up all of the meat, eggs, milk and
butter that were forbidden during Lent. The workers would stop early, have a
feast and play energetic sports. Football was the most popular sport, and it soon
became known as Shrovetide Football.

Those early football matches in Britain werent played on a well-laid out pitch with
referees and linesmen. In fact the games were played using an entire village (or
sometimes two neighbouring villages) as the playing field. There could be more
than a thousand players in each team!

The hard men of recent British football history players like Roy Keane, Danny
Mills and Alan Smith would not have been out of place in a game of Shrovetide
Football; the game was violent and dangerous, with players often getting injured,
sometimes even killed. Brute strength and force of numbers mattered more than
skill and tactics.

One English King after another tried to ban the mob football games, believing
they distracted the men from their important archery practice. Oliver Cromwell

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finally managed to put a stop to football, but this lasted only until he was replaced
by Charles II.
In the 12th Century, more than fifty English towns and villages played annual
games of Shrovetide Football. Nowadays, the market town of Ashbourne in
Derbyshire is one of the few places where the tradition continues.

Instead of a kick off, the ball is turned up to begin a game. In Ashbourne, this
takes place at Shaw Croft car park, following a Shrovetide feast. Usually,
someone of importance is invited to turn up the ball, by throwing it into the crowd
of players. In 2003, the ball was turned up by HRH Prince Charles.

With the match under way, the competition is ferocious. There are very few
rules, and the ball can be thrown, kicked or carried. Deliberately trying to injure
opponents is forbidden, as is the use of motor vehicles to move the ball. Other
than that, anything goes. The area immediately surrounding the ball is called the
hug and its here that the play is most aggressive. Smaller players tend to stay
outside the hug and help their team by pushing and cheering.

All of Ashbourne becomes the football pitch, with the goals three miles apart.
Every year, the towns shopkeepers fix wooden boards to their shop fronts to
protect their windows. The pitch has a small river running through it called
Henmore Brook, and when the ball goes into the river, several thousand players

Henmore Brook is also important to the game because it decides which team
everyone plays for; those born on the north side of the river are called the
Uppards and must move the ball towards the goal at Sturton Mill. Those from
the south side are the Downards and their goal is Clifton Mill.

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After six in the evening, the next goal scored (by striking the ball three times
against the goal marker) ends the game, and the person scoring the winning goal
gets to keep the ball. If the score is tied come midnight, then the ball goes to the
person who turned it up. The game finished, its time for everyone to crowd into
the local pubs to boast about their glories and display their injuries!

Shrovetide Football at Ashbourne has only been cancelled twice in its recorded
history not for the World Wars, but because of outbreaks of Foot and Mouth
Disease. The first of these was in 1968 when they played a mini version in the
park, and then again in 2001, when it was cancelled altogether. It takes
something pretty big to stop the people of Ashbourne from enjoying their
favourite game, as this traditional rhyme says:

Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

These days are always set
To play a game of football
Through sunshine, snow and wet

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History Quiz

The first recorded evidence of Shrovetide Football dates back to the twelfth
century. What other important events were happening around the world at that
time? Try this quick quiz:

a) In 1107, multi-colour printing was invented to stop people from making fake
money. In what country was it invented?
b) Which Cambodian temple was completed in 1150?
c) 1163 saw work start on which famous building in Paris?
d) Which world-famous learning institute was founded in 1167?
e) Construction started on a well-known London landmark in 1176. Name it.
f) Who led his armies to conquer much of Western Asia and Eastern Europe in

How Many ?

a) days are there in Lent?

b) days are in Shrovetide?
c) players are in a Shrovetide football team?
d) villages and towns played annual Shrovetide Football in the 12th century?
e) miles are there between the goal markers in Ashbourne?
f) times must the ball be struck on the goal marker?
g) times has the Shrovetide Football at Ashbourne been cancelled?
h) years were there between the first and second cancellations?

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The FA Cup
Brian Boyd

What gets taken to the FA Cup Final every year, but never used? Answer: the
losing teams ribbons. Hundreds of teams enter the tournament each year, but
only one teams colours will be tied to the trophys handles when the final whistle
is blown.

The first FA Cup in 1872 saw just 15 clubs take part, and the winners that year
were Wanderers FC. Public schools and university sides, such as Old Etonians,
Clapham Rovers, Old Carthisians and Oxford University, dominated the
tournament in the early years.

The qualifying rounds of the FA Cup provide a chance for Britains smaller teams
to battle through and take on the big name clubs. Many times in the cups
history, non-league and lower division teams have become giant killers by
eliminating high-ranking opponents. In 1957, for example, Wolves and Spurs fell
to Bournemouth before Manchester United halted their progress in a
controversial quarterfinal defeat. Newcastle were put out of the tournament by
non-league side Hereford United in 1972. Coventry claimed the cup in 1987, yet
met defeat when they played Sutton United of the Conference League two years
later. Such dreams of glory and victory for the underdogs all add to the mystique
of footballs oldest and most famous domestic cup competition.

After being something of a traveling circus for its first fifty years, the FA Cup Final
found a long term home at the new Empire Stadium at Wembley (more famously
known as Wembley Stadium) in 1923. The organizers felt that the stadium,
which was built to hold 120,000 people, would never be filled. The advertising in
the build up to that game between West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers

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boasted there would be plenty of space with excellent views. However, come
match day, more than 200,000 enthusiastic fans turned up.

As the stadium filled, the crowd was pushed further and further forward,
eventually spilling onto the pitch. Rather than call off the final, a few policemen
on horseback pushed the spectators back to the touchlines. The most prominent
of the mounted officers was Police Constable Storey and his white horse, Billy,
who helped to keep the good-natured fans in order throughout the match. That
historic game is now remembered as The White Horse Final.

The crowd at the 1927 final joined voices and sang the hymn Abide With Me
before the match, and a new tradition was born; it has been sung before the
kickoff every year since. 1927 also saw the cup leave Englands borders for the
first time, when Cardiff beat Arsenal 1-0 and took the trophy home to Wales.

Another unforgettable final saw Blackpools Wizard of Dribble, Stanley

Matthews, making his third attempt to win an FA Cup winners medal in 1953. All
hope seemed lost for Blackpool, with Bolton Wanderers leading them 3-1 just
twenty minutes from the final whistle. What followed has become footballing
legend, as Stanley Matthews turned up the pressure and took the opposition
apart. Twenty minutes later, it was all over, and Blackpool had a 4-3 victory that
is still talked about to this day.

In 1956, Manchester Citys goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, hurt his neck fifteen
minutes from the end of play, whilst making a save at the feet of Birminghams
Peter Murphy. He stayed on the pitch until the end despite being in a lot of pain,
and was able to collect his winners medal. Later, an x-ray showed he had
broken his neck. More players suffered broken bones during the finals of 1957,
1959, 1960, 1961 and 1965, resulting in teams short on players and one-sided
finals. As a result, in 1967, the first substitutes were allowed.

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Triumphs, tragedies, surprises and upsets can be found throughout the FA Cups
history. These defining memories surround the FA Cup competition like no other
in domestic football, guaranteeing it intense global interest each year.

Phrasal Verbs

Look through the text again. Try to find a phrasal verb that means:

1. challenge
2. discuss
3. increase
4. participate
5. eliminate
6. arrive
7. destroy
8. cancel

Comprehension Test

1. How many teams enter the FA Cup each year?

2. When was the first ever FA Cup final?
3. What is a giant killer in football?
4. What was the problem at the 1923 FA Cup Final?
5. What was special about Cardiffs win in 1927?
6. Which two teams reached the final in 1953?
7. Why did the FA allow substitutes in the FA cup Final in 1967?
8. Where was the final played before the new Wembley was completed?

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The Apprentice
Thom Kiddle

Playing in the English Premiership is a dream shared by thousands, if not

millions, around the world. For most of us its nothing more than a dream, but
what about those who are the closest to achieving the goal the apprentice
footballers at the countrys top clubs? You can become an apprentice, or trainee,
at age 16, and most young players come straight up from the clubs academies
(training programmes for schoolboys as young as nine years old). However, its a
hard life and theres no guarantee of success. On average only one in ten
apprentices actually makes it to the big time and gets a full contract. So what is
it like for a young trainee at a top club? What are the ups and downs of life as a
football apprentice? And what are the sacrifices they have to make to pursue
their dream?

Most trainees dont stay at home when they are signed by a club. Instead, they
stay in a club hostel sharing rooms in a dormitory or in digs living with a
local family close to the club. The day starts early for the apprentices they have
to arrive at the training ground at around 9am, long before the professionals. The
first job is to prepare things for the first-team players often a trainee has one or
two professional players whose kit and boots he is responsible for. This means
getting the tracksuit, shirt, shorts and socks ready, and even cleaning the boots
after each training session! When the players have gone off to the training pitch,
the work isnt finished for the apprentices; instead the cleaning continues. The
many cleaning jobs include sweeping and mopping the toilets, dressing rooms,
showers, boot room, weight room, sauna room, managers room, and corridors!
For the rest of the morning from about 10-30am until midday, the trainees have
their own training session, working on ball skills and fitness, but not with the
superstars of the first team no tackling Thierry Henry or Ryan Giggs!

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After lunch, many of the first-year trainees have more cleaning duties scrubbing
professionals boots and taking kit to the laundry. For apprentices, the afternoon
is a time for education off the pitch. Most young players are encouraged to go to
a local college to take courses which will help them if their footballing dream does
not come true. However, very few of them doubt that they will make the grade
and studies are not always taken seriously!

Dinner is served early at the club hostel around five oclock and the evenings
are the trainees own. Unfortunately, most clubs have strict rules about whats
allowed no pubs or clubs, no nights at friends houses, and definitely no girls!
So after TV or video games, its bedtime at the hostel before 11.00pm.

It doesnt sound too glamorous so far, does it? So why do apprentices put up
with it for several years when only 10% of them will make a living from football?
The answer lies in the rewards on offer. Of course, for many the idea of playing
for their favourite club is plenty of motivation. Add to that the fabulous wages top
players can earn, and the celebrity lifestyles of the superstars like David
Beckham, and the attraction is clear. As Manchester Uniteds Gary Neville says
of his trainee days, It's a short career of 10-12 years at the top and I think that
out of a 70 year life it isn't a great deal to give up when you consider the

Neville says that he lived like a recluse for the time he was an apprentice at Man
United. "My dad said to me for two years to just live like a saint I never went
out for two years. I never had an alcoholic drink in that time. I never went to pubs
or clubs.

Its not just the lack of a social life thats hard for trainees though. Many of the
young players at professional clubs complain that they are the lowest in the club,
looked down on by everyone. The professionals can be hard on the young lads
who clean their boots, often calling them into the dressing room to make fun of

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them. Many trainees say it seems that the job they do of cleaning is more
important than becoming a better footballer. Heres one apprentice at a
Championship club: Whereas football should be the main thing, the jobs seem to
be the main thing and the football seems to fit around the jobs you do. I know
we've got a lot of jobs to do but we're primarily here to play football not to clean
peoples boots or to clean the toilets or whatever. Not a happy trainee!

Whatever the downside, theres never any shortage of youngsters who would
love to be a trainee at a Premiership club. Many clubs are realising how
important it is to give their trainees a proper education outside football. With the
new UEFA rules which say clubs must soon have eight players in their squad
who have come through the apprenticeship scheme in that country, life may be
looking up for the young dreamers. The next Wayne Rooney may be cleaning
boots as you read this!

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Reading Skills 1

Check your comprehension of the article.

Which of these statements is correct?

1) All trainees will play in the first team at their club.

2) Trainees have to do other jobs as well as playing football.
3) Most trainees believe they will be successful footballers in the future.
4) Gary Neville regrets the sacrifices he made as a trainee.
5) Wayne Rooney still has to clean his own boots.

Reading Skills 2

Look back at the section titled A Day in the Life. What is a trainee typically doing
at these times?

1) 9.30am

2) 11.00am 3) 12.15pm 4) 3.00pm

5) 8.00pm

6) 12.00am


Look at the words in bold in the article. Can you match each with its definition?

1) cleaning a floor with water

2) thought of as less important
3) a person who stays away from other people
4) achieve success
5) success and fame
6) improving
7) earn enough money to survive

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Badges of Honour
Thom Kiddle

Its the celebration that the fans love the most. The striker shoots he scores!
As he runs away from the goal, the player turns to the crowd in the stands, grabs
his shirt, pulls the club badge to his lips and kisses it, then shows it proudly to the
cheering supporters. It is the ultimate gesture of the players loyalty to, and love
for the club, because the crest is the ultimate symbol of the football club itself.

The badges are instantly recognisable, as much as the swoosh of Nike, or the
golden arches of McDonalds. We all know the badge of Liverpool, Manchester
United or Arsenal without having to read the name of the club, but have you ever
looked really closely at your favourite clubs insignia and wondered why, how,
when, or by whom it was designed? The story is often closely linked to the clubs

Arsenals design, for example, features a cannon and is a reminder of the clubs
beginnings as a team at the government weapons factory in Woolwich, London.
There were three cannons in the original crest and they all pointed up into the
sky, but this was changed to a single cannon when the Gunners moved to

Liverpool FCs image has its origins even earlier in history. It features the
mythical Liver bird a combination of a cormorant and an eagle found in
pictures from the 13th century. The bird is known as the guardian of the city of
Liverpool and it is said that if the famous statues overlooking the River Mersey
ever fly away, the city will disappear and the club will need a new home.

Everton Football Clubs shield shows a circular tower, known as The

Roundhouse or Prince Ruperts Tower. This tower was built over two hundred

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years ago and was actually used as a prison to keep badly-behaved citizens
before they were taken to court in the morning. Although it can still be seen in the
Everton area of Liverpool, todays misbehaving fans are taken to the local police
station instead!

The logo of Manchester United is clearly connected to the clubs nickname The
Red Devils which was chosen by the legendary Sir Matt Busby. However, it
still keeps an image from the original coat-of-arms of the City of Manchester. This
is a ship which represents the Manchester Ship Canal and can also be found on
the badge of rivals Manchester City.

Many more clubs have chosen a design which reflects their nickname. Examples
of this are the wolf in Wolverhampton Wanderers logo, the fox in Leicester Citys,
the canary on the Norwich City emblem, and Sheffield Wednesdays owl.
Other teams decided to show their pride in the region they come from the white
rose of Yorkshire on Leeds Uniteds badge and the red rose of Lancashire in the
Blackburn Rovers design, for instance.

All clubs have changed the design of their insignia over the years to show the
changes in their image, location, nickname or just to reflect the changing fashion
of logo design. Perhaps the biggest change occurred in 1996 when the Football
Association advised all clubs to register their crests as trademarks. This was
intended to stop illegal copying and use of the images, but it meant that many
clubs had to leave out traditional images in their new designs, because they
didnt own the copyright.

While many badges are created by professional designers, some are actually
designed by the fans themselves. Charlton Athletics crest showing a hand
holding a sword was the result of a supporters competition in 1963. The club had
a bit of fun with their followers on April 1st 2002 though. They announced that the
sword image was too aggressive and suggested a nice friendly bird or a smiling

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fish design instead. Hundreds of angry Charlton devotees phoned the club
hotline without realising it was just an April Fools joke!


1. How many synonyms can you find in the text for:

a) a badge
b) the supporters of a club ?

2. Can you find the word from the paragraph which means:

a) the highest, best or most important? (adjective, paragraph 1)

b) a big gun with wheels? (noun, paragraph 3)
c) a person / thing which looks after a person / place? (noun, paragraph 4)
d) famous and loved from the past (adjective, paragraph 6)
e) a legally-protected image or name (noun, paragraph 8)

Over to you:

Read more about the crests of some famous and not-so-famous clubs from
Britain and around the world at

If you were to design a crest for a team from your area, town or village, what
images would you use and why?

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Footballs Hits and Misses

Brian Boyd

The 1927 FA Cup final marked a milestone in football history. Cardiffs one-nil
victory over Arsenal saw the cup leave England for the first time. That historic
match also produced another footballing first, when the 90,000 spectators sang
the hymn Abide with Me; a recording of the song which has since become FA
Cup tradition, preceding every final became the first football song.

With more misses than hits, the last seventy five years have seen a huge number
of football songs assault the UK charts, from the moving and inspiring to the fun,
daft and truly awful. Many people believe that football and pop music just dont
belong together, but that hasnt stopped some of the greatest teams and players
in the sports history from trying.

Early efforts included Pass-Shoot-Goal(1931) by Dame Gracie Fields (one of

the earliest female football fans?), I Do Like to Watch a Game of Football (1932)
by Sydney Kyte and Sandy Powells Sandy the Goalkeeper. But it wasnt until
1970 that football scored its first number one: The England World Cup Squads
Back home went to the top of the charts as the national team tried to repeat
their World Cup success of 1966.

It became traditional for teams to release records to coincide with big

tournaments. This typically involved cramming the players into a recording
studio to sing a reworking of a classic tune. Despite hits such as Blue is the
Colour, which took Chelsea FC to number five in 1972, Nice One Cyril, Spurs
1973 homage to fullback Cyril Knowles and Good Old Arsenal which saw the
Gunners at number fifteen, the songs were generally poor and instantly

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In 1990, the England team got a helping hand from new wave band, New Order.
Their Italia 90 song, World in Motion, spent two weeks at the top of the UK
charts and began a new trend towards football songs from established

The Lightning Seeds, with the help of British comedians Frank Skinner and David
Baddiel, released Three Lions in 1996. The song went to number one and
captured the nations excitement during the European championships; the
opening chant Its coming home refers to the tournament being held in
Britain, the home of modern football, and the title Three Lions refers to the
emblem on the England badge.

Previously, football songs bragged of unstoppable teams, certain to win. What

makes Three Lions different are its fond memories of Englands 1966 World
Cup victory, and a never-ending belief that those glory days can return. The
chorus filling Wembley Stadium with passion in the summer of 96 went: Three
lions on the shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming. Thirty years of hurt, never stopped
me dreaming. The song became Britains biggest selling football recording of all

Successful football songs are usually those that are rhythmic, simple and catchy,
making them easy to learn and sing along to at matches. Three Lions certainly
achieved that. So did Come On You Reds, putting Manchester United at the
number one spot in 1994, when they teamed up with UK rock legends, Status
Quo. But in 1998, Fat Les (a band comprising of installation artist, Damien Hirst,
comedic actor, Keith Allen and bass player from Britpop band, Blur, Alex James)
took simplicity to a new level with their song Vindaloo. The title refers to
Britains new national dish curry. The song was infantile and silly, but with its
military drums and chant-along chorus it was perfect for the terraces. In terms of
record sales, Vindaloo takes second place only to Three Lions.

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The majority of footballs attempts at pop success are probably best forgotten. In
the Mars-sponsored Music Hall of Shame survey, the Top Ten Worst Songs
Ever included three songs by footballers: Fog on the Tyne by Paul Gazza
Gasgoine, Diamond Lights, a duet by Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle, and the
Anfield Rap by John Barnes and Liverpool FC (Red Machine in Full Effect).
Then there are football songs released for a good cause. On May 11th, 1985,
disaster struck at Bradford Citys ground, when a stand caught fire. Fifty five
people died, and more than two hundred were injured. The Bradford City
disaster fund benefited from the sales of Youll Never Walk Alone by The Crowd
a collaboration of many British artists. Another number one charity record was
Ferry Cross the Mersey. This time raising money for 1989s Hillsborough
disaster, the song also brought together various artists.

So, for better or for worse, football songs will be around for the foreseeable
future. With each World Cup, footballers, actors, comedians oh, and
musicians across Britain put pen to paper, hoping to compose the next great
football anthem.

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What does it mean?

Match these ten definitions to the words which have been highlighted in the text:
1. memorable and infectious
2. happen at the same time
3. highlight or high point
4. song of praise
5. projected, anticipated
6. boasted
7. attack
8. a movement or development
9. childish, immature
10. simple or insignia

How Much Can You Remember?

1. Which two teams contested the 1927 FA Cup final?

2. In what year did Back Home reach number one in the UK charts?
3. Which team sang Blue is the Colour?
4. Name the song New Order sang with the 1990 England team.
5. What emblem is on the England badge?
6. What is the most popular meal in Britain?
7. Who sang Fog on the Tyne?
8. Which football ground suffered a terrible fire in 1985?

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Footballs Believe It or Not!

Thom Kiddle

Have you seen the Ripleys Believe It or Not exhibitions and TV shows, or the
Guinness Book of Records? Well, football has its very own amazing facts and
figures, and the home of the worlds favourite game, Britain, can lay claim to
many of them. Who was the fattest goalkeeper? The tallest player ever? And
how do they compare to the stars of todays game? Read on to find out!

Well, lets start with the big ones. The heaviest goalkeeper in professional
football history was William Henry Fatty Foulke, who played 100 years ago for
Sheffield United and even for the England national team. He weighed almost 150
kilogrammes, and even more amazingly, was a professional cricketer for
Derbyshire as well. Can you imagine Thierry Henry trying to squeeze the ball
past him?! He was apparently a very good goalie but had a unique way of
helping when his team was losing he once hung on to the crossbar after
making a save and it snapped, stopping the match!

Willie Foulke almost takes the prize for the tallest player as well. However, that
honour goes to another keeper, from the newest club in the Football League.
Milton Keynes Dons goalie, Scott Bevan, is a giant 2.01 metres tall. As the
crossbar is only 2.4 metres from the ground, its clear that no striker tries to lob
this goalkeeper! And what about his opposite? In recent years, the shortest
player on a Premiership pitch has been former Aston Villa player, Alan Wright,
who measured just 1.62 metres no point in him going up for a corner against
Scott Bevan!

When age comes in to it, there are some crazy statistics in football. Many people
say that a player is nearing the end of his playing days at 30, but goalkeeper
John Burridge played in the Premiership for Manchester City in 1995 aged 43

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years and 157 days. For all time golden oldies however, its hard to look past
football great, Sir Stanley Matthews. This Stoke City and England hero started
playing at Stoke in 1932, and returned to finish his career there 33 years later, at
the age of 50! To read more about footballing legends in the English game,
check out

It was several years ago that Matthew Briggs came on for Fulham to become the
youngest ever player in the Premiership he was only 16 years and 65 days old
not old enough to drive or vote in an election, but given the chance to play in
the best league in the world!

What about the speed freaks? Well, the fastest ever goal in the English
Premiership took only eight seconds. Tottenham defender Ledley King now holds
this record after scoring a goal at the beginning of a Spurs game against
Bradford in the 2000/2001 season.

Talking of goals, Manchester United hold the record for the biggest win in
Premiership history, with a 9-0 hammering of Ipswich back in 1995; Andy Cole
got five of them! Thats a pretty impressive scoreline, but nothing compared to
the 36 goals Scottish side Arbroath scored without reply against Bon Accord
back in 1885! The hottest strikers these days all try to reach the magic mark of
thirty goals in a Premiership season. Compare that to the record of Everton hero
Dixie Dean, who got an amazing sixty goals back in the 1927-28 season when
the top league in England was known as Division One!

And finally, a fantastic fact about famous players. Whos the worlds most famous
footballer? Could it be Beckham? What about Pele, Maradona and Ronaldo?
Well, theyre all very well known, but probably the most famous man ever to play
professionally is far better known in a different world; he was the leader of the
Roman Catholic Church! Thats right, Pope John Paul II used to be a
professional footballer believe it or not!

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Vocabulary Search

Find the words in the text which fit the following definitions:

1) the only one, very special (adjective, paragraph 2)

2) to shoot for goal over the top of the goalkeeper (verb, paragraph 3)
3) facts and figures (countable noun, paragraph 4)
4) famous figures from history (countable noun, paragraph 4)
5) people crazy about a particular thing (countable noun, paragraph 5)
6) a very big victory (countable noun, paragraph 6)


1) The average Premiership player weighs about 82 kilogrammes. How many

Fatty Foulkes would balance a see-saw with a Premiership team on the other
2) On average how often was a goal scored in the Arbroath match?
3) What is the age difference between the oldest and youngest Premiership
4) What is the difference in height between the tallest and shortest Premiership
players in centimetres?

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Going Underground
By Brian Boyd

Football is huge in London, and the city boasts twelve professional teams more
than any other city in the world. Many of the premierships clubs come from
London. For a football fan visiting the capital, what could be better than a
whirlwind one-day tour of the citys professional football grounds? Grab your
tube map and hop on the London Underground to see what The Big Smoke has
to offer lovers of the beautiful game. Mind the gap!

The tour starts at South Ealing station. Here youll find Griffin Park, the home of
Brentford, and the only stadium in Britain to have a pub on every corner
perhaps theres time for a quick drink in each before the next stop. Music lovers
may be interested to know that legendary singer Rod Stewart once played for

Change lines at Hammersmith and head north to Shepherds Bush and the highflying hoops of Queens Park Rangers. After you visit Loftus Road Stadium, be
sure to stop off at Uxbridge Road for an amazing selection of international

Back south now, change at Earls Court and follow the District Line to Putney
Bridge. Here youll find Fulhams ground, Craven Cottage. The stadium is
entirely seated these days, following redevelopment, but the famous Craven
Cottage still sits in one corner, and this is where the players enter the pitch from.

Just north, near Fulham Broadway station, is Chelseas ground, Stamford Bridge.
This is the largest league ground in London. Walk through the ground and youre
walking on a piece of London history the soil removed when building the

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Piccadilly Lines tunnel at the start of the 20th century was used to build Stamford
Bridges terraces.

Its a long journey to the next ground. Go north and change to the Central Line at
Notting Hill Gate. As you race between Tottenham Court Road and Old Holborn,
look carefully out of the windows. If youre lucky you might spot one of the tube
systems forty ghost stations abandoned, forgotten and empty.

Stay on the underground until you reach Leyton, where youll find Matchroom
Stadium (still referred to as Brisbane Road by many of Leyton Orients fans).

Double back to Mile End Station and change to the Hammersmith and City Line
for Upton Park. Boleyn Ground is where West Ham play, and a handsome
statue of England captain Bobby Moore stands outside, proudly holding the world
cup trophy which England won in 1966. Moore is held aloft by fellow West Ham
players Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters and Everton defender Ray Wilson.

Back in the underground, take the Hammersmith and City Line west to Moorgate,
then the Northern Line down to London Bridge. Youll need to use trains, buses
or taxis to visit the next three clubs.

Charlton Athletic returned to their ground, The Valley in 1992, after seven years
of exile and struggle. The Valley, near Londons Millennium Dome, is considered
a favourite away day for London-based football supporters, due to its friendly

Not so friendly, is The Den, Millwalls ground. Visitors are advised not to wear
the colours of opposing teams! The stadium has also been used by Harchester
United an imaginary team. Episodes of Sky Ones TV show, Dream Team,
were filmed here.

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Selhurst Park is home to Crystal Palace. Nicknamed The Eagles, Crystal

Palace are longtime rivals of Charlton and Millwall. Selhurst Park is actually
Crystal Palaces fourth ground, and they previously played at The Crystal Palace
(stadium), Herne Hill and The Nest.

Back at London Bridge, take the Bakerloo Line to Piccadilly Circus for the
Piccadilly Line to Arsenal. This station was originally called Gillespie Road but
the name was changed in 1932 to promote the club and reflect its importance to
the area. Arsenal Stadium, however, is still known to many fans as Highbury.

At Finsbury Park the Victoria Line will take you to Seven Sisters. Tottenham
Hotspurs ground, White Hart Lane has virtually been rebuilt in recent years,
making it one of the best in the country. It is totally enclosed which really adds to
the overall look of the ground and can make for a great atmosphere.

Change at Finsbury Park again, and then from Kings Cross St Pancras follow
the Metropolitan Line all the way to the final club Watford. Some would argue
Watford is so far out that it doesnt count as a London club. But if you want to
complete the tour, you need to visit Vicarage Road. Their badge is a hart by the
way not a moose!

Finally, back down the Metropolitan Line to Wembley Park. Behold The
National Stadium! Its foundations contain rubble from the old Wembley and this
new ground, with its distinctive arch structure, now plays host to the FA Cup final.
The tour ends here. Can it all be done in a day? Why not find out!

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Challenge one
Is it possible to complete this tour in one day? Supposing you started at 8.00 am
and stopped at each stadium for thirty minutes. Use this route planner to
calculate what time you would finally arrive at the new National Stadium:

Challenge two
Now suppose you couldnt buy a travel card but had to pay for each individual
journey. How much would the tour cost (use the journey planner again)?

Challenge three
Of all the stations on the London Underground map, only one can be spelt
without using any letters from the word Mackerel. Which one? Youll find the
answer here:

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Just Flick to Kick

Brian Boyd

If you were a football-mad boy growing up in the 1970s in England, there was
one game you couldnt be without Subbuteo! In fact, not owning the worlds
most successful tabletop football game would have been the same as not owning
a games console nowadays.

Although the game of Subbuteo was invented back in 1947, the seventies saw
the height of its popularity. Played on a cloth pitch, the game involved plastic
figurines, standing approximately three-quarters of an inch tall and mounted on
rounded bases. These tiny players were flicked at a ball, using the index finger.
Skilful flicking would manoeuvre the ball up the pitch and, hopefully, into the
opponents goal. Kicking, passing and shooting the ball proved to be a lot trickier
than the television advertisements made it look.

Englishman, Peter Adolph, developed Subbuteo, basing it on an earlier game

called Newfooty. Adolph originally tried to register his game at the patent office
under the name hobby, but was turned since just about everybody in the world
already had a hobby he couldnt claim to have invented something that already

Adolph was a keen bird watcher and he soon found an alternative name in his
other pastime. His favourite bird, the English hobby falcon, had the latin name
Falco Subbuteo. He decided Subbuteo was a perfect name for the game, and
all Subbuteo products have a picture of the hobby falcon on their packaging.

Subbuteo was the ideal collectors hobby, and all kinds of accessories were
available. Part of the fun of playing Subbuteo lay in setting up the stadium before
a match. Plastic crowd control barriers, floodlights, press photographers and

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policemen were lovingly placed around the edge of the pitch to give the game
that real match feel.

There have been some bizarre accessories over the years. One example is the
model of Queen Elizabeth II, useful in case you were staging the FA cup final in
your dining room one rainy afternoon. Another is British band The Beatles.
After meeting the fab four and their manager (Brian Epstine) in 1964, Adolph
produced figures of the band members. The packaging proudly proclaimed that
the figures were officially endorsed by John, Paul, George and Ringo
themselves. How you used them in a Subbuteo match is anybodys guess.
Perhaps they could come on and play a few songs (provided by tape recorder)
during half-time of an important match.

But perhaps the most noteworthy addition to the Subbuteo range is one that has
emerged in the last four years the Subbuteo streaker! This anatomically
correct figure is naked and customers can order the male or female set. Each
streaker comes with an arresting police officer of the same gender.

Tom Taylor, from Staffordshire, England, began making and supplying Subbuteo
accessories when Hasbro Toys stopped producing them in 2001. The streaker
sets are his best-selling line, and orders have been sent to all corners of the
world over 6,000 sets to twenty-five different countries!

Tom has even devised rules for using the streaker during games. If a player
feels their opponent is close to scoring a goal, they deploy their streaker as a
last-chance distraction. Play is postponed and a chase begins, with one player
flicking the police officer after the fleeing streaker, attempting to capture him or
her before they escape from the pitch.

Anyone who grew up playing Subbuteo will fondly recall the triumphs and
tragedies of table football. Some remember players parading an FA cup twice

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their size, on a lap of honour after a game. Or holding the goalkeeper over a
lighted match to soften the plastic, and then stretching his arms for better saving
ability. Then of course there was the heartache of carelessly kneeling on a player
the large pitches didnt fit some dinning room tables, and kids were forced to
play on the floor. I, personally, will never forgive my best friend for crushing my
Pele, snapping him completely off the base.

Many youngsters from the seventies rediscovered Subbuteo as adults. UK

Subbuteo clubs alone have more than 70,000 members, and there are Subbuteo
clubs world-wide its a serious business. Collectors pay high prices for hard-tofind sets, and regular World Cup tournaments are held.

Grown men playing with plastic footballer toys? It all sounds a bit geeky. But
you only have to type Subbuteo into Google to get an idea of how many serious
fans the game has. Toy manufacturers, Hasbro, promoted Subbuteo with the
simple message: Its fast, its fun! Just flick to kick. Almost sixty years of
flicking later, it looks like Subbuteo is here to stay.

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Vocabulary booster

Match the words on the left to the definitions on the right:


extremely strange, very unusual


knowledgeable in a subject (usually scientific)

but also socially inept


someone who runs naked in public


a movement performed with care and skill


a hobby, a free time activity


rescheduled an event for a later time

Now complete each of these sentences using one of the words above:

1. Our holiday was ________________ because Dad was too sick to travel.
2. Arranging dried flowers is her favourite __________________.
3. A fast _______________ by the driver avoided a terrible accident.
4. I left computer club because the other kids were so ___________.
5. They stopped the tennis match because a __________ ran onto the court.
6. Its a really good film but the ____________ plot makes it difficult to follow.

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You Only Sing When Youre Winning!

Thom Kiddle

We all know how important the crowd is to a team. They can inspire the team to
play better; some managers even call the supporters their 12th player. When
they feel the team is playing badly, however, they will always let the players and
manager know! But what exactly do the fans sing and chant when we hear them
during a match?

The English Premiership is home to the funniest, most musical, most passionate,
and often, rudest chants in the world of football. While in most countries fans only
chant about their own and other teams, in British football there are also crowd
songs about individual players, managers, past victories and parts of the country.

Although each clubs fans have their own chants about their teams, there are
some common songs which are shared by all teams.
Were by far the greatest team, The world has ever seen!, for example, is sung
by fans of teams even at the bottom of the lowest division, all in complete
seriousness! Its not all serious though: when a team has a good period of play
on the pitch, the crowd will often begin to sing, Its just like watching Brazil!

The chants against the opposing team are just as amusing. Youre so bad, its
unbelievable!, Youre supposed to be a big team!, and Are you (name of very
bad team) in disguise? are all sung around Premiership grounds when the
opposition is playing badly. When a team concedes a goal, the supporters will
often fall silent, which leads to the other teams fans chanting Youre not singing
any more!, soon followed by, You only sing when youre winning! Except in
Grimsby. In this famous fishing port in the north of England, opposing fans will
chant You only sing when youre fishing! when the Grimsby fans are quiet.

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The chants about individual players are usually the most interesting and
amusing. Each clubs supporters will have at least one song for their favourite
players in the team some just the players name put to a tune, as with Thierry
Henry, Thierry Henry; some using a familiar pattern, like Theres only one
Michael Owen, one Michael Owen!; but many with quite individual words and
several verses.

When Ryan Giggs of Manchester United is playing well, the crowd will either sing
Giggs, Giggs will tear you apart again, to the tune of the Joy Division song
Love will tear us apart, or this longer chant, to the tune of the Robin Hood song:
Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, running down the wing,
Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, hear United sing.
Feared by the Blues,
Loved by the Reds,
Ryan Giggs, Ryan Gigs, Ryan Giggs.

Many teams supporters have even got chants for their manager. Again, these
can follow a common pattern: Fergusons red and white army! at Man Utd, or
Gary Megsons blue and white army! sung by West Brom fans. However, some
managers inspire as much love as the star players. When Kevin Keegan was
Newcastle manager, the Toon Army (Newcastle fans) sang a whole song using
most of the words of Winter Wonderland, but singing Were walking in a
Keegan Wonderland!

So where do these chants come from, and how do the fans all learn a new chant
around the ground at the same time? The answer is: a whole variety of places.
Many club songs have been sung for seasons and are repeated year after year,
maybe with small variations as players, managers or results change. When a
new chant starts at one club, it will often be copied by visiting supporters and
applied to their team the following week. Another source of new chants is the
fanzines (unofficial club magazines sold outside the stadium on match days), in

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which supporters will suggest new songs for the coming game. Many chants are
also made up in pubs, on coaches and trains before a match, and sung loudly by
a small group in the stadium until the rest of the crowd has learnt the words. And
there is always the lone fan, who will stand on his seat and sing loudly, hoping
that the rest of the crowd will pick up his chant and join in.

Chants are so much a part of British football that last year there was even a
contest to find a Chant Laureate, (like the Poet Laureate, the countrys official
poetry writer), who will be paid a years salary to tour the stadiums of England
and write new chants for different teams. It seems unlikely that fans will be
interested in having a song made for them by a supporter of a rival team, but it is
certainly a dream job for some more than 1500 people entered the competition.

So next time youre watching an English game on TV, keep your ears focused on
the crowd rather than the commentators, and the next Chant Laureate could be

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Reading skills

Scan your eyes over the nine paragraphs very quickly. Which paragraph will tell
you about:
a) the different things British teams chant about?
b) an official job for inventing chants?
c) songs about managers?
d) songs sung about Ryan Giggs?
e) who starts new chants?

Now read those paragraphs more carefully to find whether these statements are
true or false.

1) Fans in most countries have songs about their favourite players.

2) The Chant Laureate will only write songs about his own club.
3) The West Bromwich Albion manager is called Gary Megson.
4) Man Utd fans have more than one chant about Ryan Giggs.
5) All club songs change every season.


Can you find the word which matches the following definitions?

1) make some one feel they can do something well (verb, paragraph 1)
2) more bad language than others (superlative adjective, paragraph 2)
3) lose or give up (verb, paragraph 4)
4) changes (noun, paragraph 7)
5) not a good chance, not really possible (adjective, paragraph 8)

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Roy of the Rovers

Brian Boyd

A professional footballers career is relatively short and most tend to retire in their
early thirties. There are exceptions, of course gritty veterans, still refusing to
hang up their boots in their late thirties and beyond. Pat Jennings was Irelands
forty one year old goalkeeper in the 1986 World Cup. Then there was Roger
Milla, who carried Cameroon to the quarter finals of the 1990 World Cup at the
grand old age of thirty eight and even went on to participate in the tournament
again, four years later!

But did you know that one of Britains most popular footballers had a playing
career that spanned five decades? From his league debut in 1955 to the tragic
helicopter crash that left him critically injured and in a coma, Roy Race delighted
generations of fans until the mid-nineties.

More commonly known as Roy of the Rovers, Roy Race is a comic book
character who began his astounding career in the pages of Tiger a comic
which editor Derek Birnage described as The Sport and Adventure Picture Story

Derek originally wrote the stories of Roys ongoing triumphs and tragedies.
Young readers followed with enthusiasm as Roy and best friend, Blackie Gray,
were signed on for Melchester Rovers reserve team by talent scout Alf Leeds. It
was less than a year before the skillful pair made their first team debut.

Melchester Rovers, like the other teams featured in the comic, were fictional.
They clashed against rivals such as Weston Villa, Seaford Athletic, Stambridge
City and Langton United. Dont look for these towns and cities on a map of
Britain, because they dont exist!

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By 1976, Roys popularity had outgrown Tiger, and the aptly named Roy of the
Rovers comic was launched. As well as reading about Roy and his evergrowing cast of supporting characters, fans were treated to other footballing
tales, such as Billys Boots, Hot Shot Hamish and The Footballer Who
Wouldnt Stay Dead.

A major reason for the comics popularity was the balance of action and drama
on and off the pitch. The stories covered every angle of a footballers life.
Readers were thrilled by the action-packed matches, and stories often ended on
nail-biting cliff-hangers. Of course, this meant an agonizing seven-day wait to
find out what happened next! Equally enjoyable were the dramas unfolding
behind the scenes, involving Roys family life and the running of Melchester

The stories, the players and the teams may have been fictional, but they seemed
to cross into reality more and more as the years went by and vice versa. In
1960, Derek Birnage stopped writing Roys adventures. The job was taken over
by footballing legend Bobby Charlton.

Soon, celebrities were making regular appearances alongside Roy, Blackie and
the rest of the Melchester squad. Real life football hero, Emlyn Hughes
(Liverpool and England captain) was signed to Melchester Rovers in an attempt
to boost morale after a poor season. So was Bob Wilson another popular
player at that time. Melchester even recruited two members of Spandau Ballet,
a well-known British pop group in the 1980s!

The connection between the comic and the real world of football went a step
further when Melchester Rovers became the first fictional football team to get a
sponsorship deal. Sporting goods manufacturers, Gola, paid the comics

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publishers a fee to have the Melchester characters wearing and using Gola
sports equipment.

In his thirty nine (yes, thirty nine!) years of playing, Roy Race led Melchester
Rovers to numerous cup victories, played for England and even equaled the
record for the fastest ever goal, scoring in just four seconds!

But his career was also plagued by catastrophes. Poor old Roy has been shot,
lost a leg, seen eight teammates killed by a terrorist bomb and watched his home
ground, Mel Park, ruined by an earthquake.

Roy Race is as much a part of British football as David Beckham or Michael

Owen. Just ask any British football fan, and youll find nine out of ten spent their
Saturday mornings eagerly waiting for the paperboy to deliver their favourite
footballing comic. Even nowadays, when something particularly dramatic
happens in a match (such as a winning goal in the dying seconds), its not
uncommon to hear the commentators say something like: This is real Roy of the
Rovers stuff!

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Who is it?

1. Who originally wrote the adventures of Roy Race?

2. Name Roys best friend and teammate.
3. Who signed Roy to Melchester Rovers reserve team?
4. Who was the second writer on Roy of the Rovers?
5. Which real-life England captain played for Melchester Rovers?

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The First Gentleman of Football

Brian Boyd

It isnt whether you win or lose its how you play the game thats important.
While sportsmen like Wayne Rooney might be considered poor role models for
young fans, there are those who are as famous for their gentlemanly conduct and
good sportsmanship as for their sporting prowess. Record-breaking athlete,
Sebastian Coe, snooker champion, Steve Davis and Olympic medalist, Steve
Redgrave, all won admiration for their fair play and professional courtesy. But
one British sportsman stands out as the finest role model of them all. The
Wizard of Dribble, Sir Stanley, Clean Sheet Matthews, The Magician, The
First Gentleman a footballer who goes by so many names must have been
quite some player. In fact, Sir Stanley Matthews is widely regarded as the
greatest English footballer ever. His career, spanning some thirty three years, is
a catalogue of firsts, records and memorable highlights.

Stanley Matthews was born in Hanley, Staffordshire in 1915. His father Jack was
a renowned local boxer who taught his four sons discipline, determination and
fair play. These lessons served Stanley well throughout his footballing life.

Young Stanley began playing for local side Stoke City at just fourteen years old,
and turned professional in 1932, aged seventeen. Two years later he pulled on
an England shirt for the first time and scored in his debut match against Wales.

Matthews played right wing, both in league games and internationally. As an

outside right he was unmatched; his marvelous sense of balance and timing,
coupled with an ability to produce bursts of speed that left his opponents
behind, earned him the nickname The Wizard of Dribble, and on the continent
he became known as The Magician. Matthews could also pass with

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tremendous accuracy; he was not so much a goal scorer as a creator of goals for

The Second World War interrupted Matthewss professional career. He served in

the RAF as a physical training instructor, stationed near Blackpool. During that
time he played in thirty wartime internationals.

In 1947, Matthews signed to Blackpool, and during his time there he played in
three FA Cup finals. Blackpool lost the first to Manchester United and the
second to Newcastle United. In 1953, Blackpool met Bolton Wanderers at
Wembley in a cup final that was to be thirty eight-year old Stanley Matthews
finest hour.

The game got off to a terrible start for Blackpool, with Bolton scoring in the
opening minutes. The Seasiders managed to equalize, but Bolton pulled ahead
again just before half time. Early in the second half, Bolton grabbed another
goal, making the score 3-1, and thats when the drama started.

Matthews seemed to move up a gear. He pressured the Bolton players,

dazzling them with his skill. A marvelous cross, twenty two minutes from the final
whistle, found teammate Stan Mortensen who scored, putting Blackpool back in
the game. In the dying minutes, Mortensen got his third of the match and the
score was tied. The Blackpool fans were delighted with this opportunity for thirty
minutes of extra time, but Stanley Matthews had plans of his own. With the last
of his energy, he raced forward and laid the ball back for Perry, who drove home
the winner in a match that will always be remembered as The Matthews Final.

In 1957, Matthews retired from the international game but continued to play
league matches. In 1961, now forty six, he rejoined Stoke amidst criticisms that
he was too old to play. Yet the fans disagreed, and the crowds grew from 4,000
to 30,000 spectators for each game. At a time when there was no televised

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coverage of football, and fame came via word of mouth, Matthews was more
popular than ever; it was said that his name on the teams line up could add
10,000 to an away gate. Within a year, Stoke climbed clear of the bottom of the
second division, and won promotion to the top flight.

With almost seven hundred league appearances and over fifty England caps
under his belt, Matthews played his final match in 1965, shortly after his fiftieth
birthday. 35,000 fans watched that game, which marked the end of an era. The
same year, Stanley received the OBE and became Sir Stanley Matthews the
first ever footballer to be knighted.

But perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Sir Stanley Matthews career is his
commendable conduct; in all his years of football, Sir Stanley was never once
booked or sent off. His outstanding sportsmanship and sense of fair play are
why many remember him as the first gentleman of football.

Sir Stanley Matthews passed away in 2000 at the age of eighty five. Thousands
watched as his coffin was driven around Stoke, and many of Englands greatest
footballers, past and present, paid tribute to the man who had inspired so many.

A permanent memorial to the legendary Matthews has been placed outside

Stoke Citys Britannia Stadium. Comprising three statues, the memorial shows
Sir Stanley at different stages of his career. Although the figures are at Britannia
Stadium, they point towards the clubs old Victoria Ground, where Sir Stanley
played. A plaque on the memorial sums up Sir Stanley Matthews beautifully:
His name is symbolic of the beauty of the game, his fame timeless and
international, his sportsmanship and modesty universally acclaimed. A magical
player, of the people, for the people.

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Matthews Milestones

Sir Stanley Matthews was born in 1915 and he died in 2000, aged 85. At what
age did he mark the following highlights of his footballing career? Try this quiz,
and then scan the article for the answers.

How old was Sir Stanley Matthews when he

a) started playing at Stoke City?
b) began playing professionally?
c) made his international debut?
d) signed up for Blackpool FC?
e) received his FA Cup winners medal?
f) played his last game for England?
g) returned to Stoke?
h) retired from professional football?

Work it out

Find these phrases in the text. What do you think they mean? Make your
guesses, using the context they are used in, then check your answers below.

a) burst of speed
b) finest hour
c) pull ahead
d) move up a gear
e) dying minutes
f) word of mouth
g) the top flight
h) (to have something) under your belt

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Talking Football
Brian Boyd

Imagine youre sitting in a pub, waiting for your friend to arrive. Its getting late,
and youre about to give up on him, when he calls you on your mobile.

Sorry, Im going to have to kick it into touch, he says. My girlfriends found out
Ive been playing away from home and she really kicked off. Its best if I play it
safe for a while.

Whats he talking about? Is he calling from a football match? Actually, phrases

like the ones above have become commonplace in everyday English in the UK,
and many people now use language borrowed from the world of football without
even realising it.

Just as fashions, technology, pop culture and attitudes constantly change, so the
English language changes too; every year, hundreds of new words are added to
the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary. The huge selection of slang terms
used by British people is forever growing, and its no surprise that the countrys
most popular sport has been responsible for some of that slang.

Early doors, nutmeg, a clean sheet, sweeper anyone new to the game of
football could be forgiven for thinking sports commentators are speaking a whole
new language; the terminology they use could fill a phrase book. People who
love football usually love talking about football, and some of the more frequently
used terms have taken on new meanings and filtered into our daily

When a footballer kicks the ball into touch, he puts it out of play and concedes a
throw in. Kick it into touch is often used in conversation to mean cancel, reject

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or quit something. A team that visits another teams stadium is playing away
from home. Playing away from home is also used to describe someone in a
relationship who is secretly dating someone else. Kick off is the term used to
describe the start of a football match, but away from the pitch it can mean the
start of trouble or a fight. A team that plays it safe doesnt want to take any
unnecessary risks, and the phrase play it safe is commonly used to mean be
careful. These are just a few examples of footballs influence on modern
English, and there are many more.

In any UK office environment, football can be heard slipping into the

conversations of businessmen. Someone talking about a meeting or project
might talk about getting the ball rolling (starting it), kicking an idea around
(passing it from person to person to see if its any good) or giving a job their best
shot (putting a lot of effort into it).

There are negative phrases too; perhaps youll hear complaints because
management has moved the goalposts (made unfair changes without warning).
Maybe someone could find themselves in trouble if they let the side down and a
person who makes a problem for themselves has scored an own goal.

Footballing phrases are widely used in London home to some of the UKs
biggest football clubs and thousands of football-mad fans. The distinctive
accents and colourful slang used by many Londoners has come to be known as
Estuary English (named after the area of the River Thames estuary), and
football is just one of its influences.

London is also home to Cockney rhyming slang, which originated in an area of

inner London known as the East End. This unusual (and often confusing) slang
is said to have begun life as street traders language, used to hide illegal
activities from the newly founded police force. Rhyming slang is now widely
used, and modern additions often utilize the names of the famous. Liverpool

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defender, Gary Ablett was hardly a superstar of world football, but his name is
sometimes heard in night clubs as a slang term for the drug ecstasy (Gary Ablett
tablet). Englands World Cup hero, Geoff Hurst, has become slang for a first
class honours degree (Geoff Hurst first), and diners in a restaurant will need to
pay the Jimmy Hill (bill) before they leave.

Nobby Stiles, Gianlucca Vialli, Robbie Fowler and many others from the
footballing hall of fame have found their way into British rhyming slang. Even
footballs most famous couple, Victoria Posh Spice Adams and England captain
David Beckham, have their own rhyming slang Posh n Becks (sex).

Such slang and idioms are colorful words and expressions that cannot be
translated literally, yet finding out about them can be the difference between
textbook and real-world language. You might be surprised at how fascinating
and fun they are to learn and use. Football slang and idioms can be baffling at
first, but once you know the Bobby Moore it should be a Glenn Hoddle!

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Can you remember?

Try to match these football idioms to their meanings, then read the article again
to check your answers.

a) score an own goal

1) pass an idea from person to person

b) get the ball rolling

2) make a big effort

c) play it safe

3) cancel or quit something

d) kick it into touch

4) make a problem for yourself

e) give it your best shot

5) start trouble or a fight

f) play away from home

6) fail when others are relying on you

g) kick it around

7) get something started

h) move the goalposts

8) have an affair

i) kick off

9) make unfair changes without warning

j) let the side down

10) be careful

Vocabulary challenge

Look at the bold words in the text. Try to find a word that means:

a) mysterious and inexplicable

b) use or employ
c) characteristic or typical
d) vocabulary and expressions
e) begin or start
f) high class and stylish
g) needless or preventable
h) ordinary or everyday

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Answer Key
Shrovetide Football

History Quiz
a) China

d) Oxford University

b) Angkor Wat

e) London Bridge

c) Notre Dame Cathedral

f) Genghis Khan

How Many ?
a) forty

e) three

b) four

f) three

c) sometimes more than one thousand

g) two

d) more than fifty

h) thirty three

FA Cup

Phrasal Verbs
1. take on

5. put out

2. talk about

6. turn up

3. turn up

7. take apart

4. take part

8. call off

Comprehension Test
1. Hundreds
2. In 1872
3. A small team that manages to beat a big team
4. Too many fans came to watch the match
5. It was the first time the cup left England
6. Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers

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Comprehension Test (continued)

7. Broken bones in previous finals left one of the teams with less players and the
matches became one-sided.
8. At The Millennium Stadium in Wales

The Apprentice

Reading Skills 1
1) False

2) True

3) True

4) False

5) False

Reading Skills 2
1) Cleaning and preparing kit for the professionals.
2) Training.
3) Having lunch.
4) Studying.
5) Watching TV or playing video games.
6) Sleeping.

1) mopping (verb)
2) looked down on (phrasal verb)
3) recluse (noun)
4) make the grade (verb + noun collocation)
5) the big time (noun)
6) looking up (phrasal verb)
7) make a living (verb + noun collocation)

Badges of Honour

1a) crest, insignia, emblem, image, shield, design, logo.

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Vocabulary (continued)
1b) fans, followers, devotees.
2a) ultimate

b) cannon

c) guardian d)legendary e) trademark

Footballs Hits and Misses

What does it mean?

1. catchy

6. bragged

2. coincide

7. assault

3. milestone

8. trend

4. anthem

9. infantile

5. foreseeable

10. emblem

How much can you remember?

1. Cardiff and Arsenal

5. Three lions

2. 1970

6. Curry

3. Chelsea

7. Paul Gasgoigne

4. World in Motion

8. Bradford

Footballs Believe It or Not!

English Language
1) unique

2) lob

3) statistics

4) legends

5) freaks

6) hammering

1) Just six Fatty Foulkes would balance eleven Premiership players!
2) On average there was a goal every two and a half minutes!
3) 27 years 28 days
4) 39 centimetres

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Just Flick to Kick

Vocabulary Booster

a movement performed with care and skill


a hobby, a free time activity


extremely strange, very unusual


someone who runs naked in public


rescheduled an event for a later time


knowledgeable in a subject, but also socially inept

1. Our holiday was postponed because Dad was too sick to travel.
2. Arranging dried flowers is her favourite pastime.
3. A fast manoeuvre by the driver avoided a terrible accident.
4. I left computer club because the other kids were so geeky .
5. They stopped the tennis match because a streaker ran onto the court.
6. Its a really good film but the bizarre plot makes it difficult to follow.

You Only Sing When Youre Winning!

Reading skills
a) Paragraph 2
1) False

b) Paragraph 8

c) Paragraph 6
4) True

d) Paragraph 5

2) False

3) True

5) False

2) rudest

3) concede 4) variations 5) unlikely.

1) inspire

Roy of the Rovers

Who is it?
1. Derek Birnage

2. Blackie Gray

3. Alf Leeds

4. Bobby Charlton 5. Emlyn Hughes

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The First Gentleman of Football

Matthews Milestones
a) 14

e) 38

b) 17

f) 42

c) 19

g) 46

d) 32

h) 50

What does it mean?

a) quick movement for a short period of time
b) moment of glory
c) move into the lead
d) start working or playing harder, or at a higher level
e) the last few minutes before the game ends
f) spread news through conversation
g) a nickname for the premiership (which used to be known as division one)
h) to have something behind you, such as experiences or achievements

Talking Football

Can you remember?

a 4

f 8

b 7

g 1

c 10

h 9

d 3

i 5

e 2

j 6

Vocabulary challenge
a baffling

b utilize

c distinctive

d terminology

e originate

f posh

g unnecessary

h commonplace

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