A Cluster of Clichés

The animal world enjoys an innumerable complement of collective nouns, ranging from the wonderfully alliterative to the impenetrably obscure. You may not be surprised to learn that football has quite a few of its own.

For reasons of sensationalism, laziness, inaccuracy or diversity, football coverage has demanded that a selection of collective nouns be made available, to be drawn from whenever appropriate. The list covers all aspects of the game, and leaves us in no doubt (despite the lack of cold, hard numbers) of the plurality of the objects or subjects in question:

Raft of substitutions - The sole domain of meaningless international friendlies, where the second half becomes fragmented by the experimentation of both managers, seeking to give debuts to one-cap wonders. Games are also seen to lose their shape and tempo.

Host of opportunities - Hosts tend to be fairly negative-sounding collections, consisting of missed opportunities or absentees from the first team.

String of chances - Chances can come in strings, as can a goalkeeper's saves or a player's impressive performances. Deviating slightly from the grammatical theme, teams will also aim to string some wins together.

Brace - A pair of goals, although simply the word "brace" is sufficient, as nothing else football-related arrives in the form of a brace. Braces are often quickfire in nature, and often leave the scorer vulnerable to be substituted before he can complete his hat-trick.

Flurry of yellow cards - Card-happy referees can sometimes end a barren first half-hour or so by unleashing a flurry of yellow cards in quick succession. They will often seek to justify this sudden outburst of disciplinarianism by pointing out various areas of the pitch to bemused perpetrators of persistent fouling.

Hatful of chances - A more flagrant exaggeration, used to ridicule the overpriced striker that has missed these chances, some of which may have been gilt-edged. One of the more imprecise units of measurement in football, as there seems to be no official confirmation regarding the volume of an average hat.

Run of victories - Similar to a string of wins, but tends to be more smoothly and less desperately achieved. High-flying sides aim to embark on an amazing run of victories as they march towards the title.

Array of talent - Most commonly found at major tournaments, but can also arrive on a club's youthful conveyor belt.

Mass of bodies - Generally found at the centre of an almighty penalty-area scramble, a mass of bodies can be the reason for a statuesque goalkeeper being unsighted, as a strike from all of 30 yards flies past him.

Embarrassment of riches - To further emphasise the options a manager has at his disposal, the cumulative international caps and transfer fees of his substitutes are often stated to illustrate his embarrassment of riches. The Big Four, for example, are not averse to turning to the millions of pounds' worth of talent sitting on the bench to spare their blushes in a Carling Cup tie.

Galaxy of stars - A rather naff alternative to the rather more understated array of talent, a galaxy of stars is often presented in contrast to the part-time bunch of journeymen they may be facing in a fairytale FA Cup tie.

Glut of goals - A goal glut can occur in a specific competition, particularly a weekend of league fixtures in a certain division. We will be told how many goals flew in in the dozen or so matches, leaving us to do the maths ourselves to decide if that is actually impressive or not.

Catalogue of errors - The media are always on hand to collate previous errors by an individual, if they sense that a catalogue of errors is emerging. Alternatively, unfortunate players may wish to browse a catalogue of injuries.

Series of high-profile gaffes - A more focused and specific offshoot of the catalogue of errors, a series of high-profile gaffes tends to be more easily attributed to goalkeepers, as the likes of Paul Robinson, David James and Fabien Barthez have all found to their cost in recent years. The series of high-profile gaffes becomes so because Sky Sports News insist in endlessly looping footage of its contents. The result for the victim is often the axe.

Swarm of [insert colour here] shirts - Sides that like to get the ball down and play have an equally established dislike of being denied space. The gameplan of their successful opponents may have been to close them down, snap at their heels and ultimately squeeze the game. Commentators will note the swarm of opposition shirts that descend upon a player if he happens to find time on the ball.


Category Article

What's on Your Mind...