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banner Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 15:08 GMT
Mind your language
BBC Sport Online's Chris Charles looks at the ridiculous phrases commonly known as football speak.

Poor old Peter Beardsley. After years of being ribbed about his looks, he's now being pilloried for his parlance.

The former England star-turned radio pundit has been picked up for his overuse of the phrase "to be fair".

One eagle-eared listener of BBC Radio Five Live claimed Beardsley managed to squeeze it in once every one-and-a-half-minutes during a recent match.

He suggested there were even occasions when the term was used more than once in the same sentence.

Not that Beardsley's too concerned about it.

"I'm surprised it's only that many," he confessed.

David Beckham
You know...

"I thought it would be a lot more than that - I'm happy with that."

So why is he so fond of that particular saying?

"It's just one of those things," he explained.

"When you're doing a commentary, or a co-commentary, on the whole, as I say, you have to be fair."


"But when I'm on air and I do say it, you can almost see the person next to me laughing. They're waiting for me to say it!"

Of course, Beardo's not the only sports star with a penchant for a favourite saying.


In America, a youngster has just scooped a $1,000 (700) prize for noticing that an athlete said "you know" 30 times in a two-minute interview.

That crime against the English language - a particular favourite of David Beckham's - is traditionally used as an "erm" subsitute, when the speaker doesn't really know what he's talking about.

Footballers consistently pepper their post-match prose with words like obviously and basically - but then if you've managed to learn two whole four-syllable expressions off pat, why not show them off?

Alan Hansen
For me...

Other favourites include the incorrect use of plurals ("you've got your Beckhams, your Gerrards") and the constant use of the perfect tense - "I've looked up, I've seen Giggsy and he's put it away".

But if you want your real gems, you have to go to your managers and your commentators.

When Harry Redknapp had a few injuries at West Ham, he was always "down to the bare bones", while Glenn Hoddle consistently finds himself in one of "them situations" - at the end of the day.

Then there's the Leeds press conferences, which wouldn't be the same without David O'Leary inserting "as I say" at the beginning of every other sentence.

The trouble is, it's always to reinforce a point he hasn't actually made.

When Alan Hansen is in the Match of the Day studios, defenders are "shocking", strikers have "got to hit the target from there" and just about everything is "unbelievable".

Early doors

Mind you, the canny Scot always makes sure the viewer knows that's not necessarily everyone else's opinion by adding "for me" at the end of each declaration.

Yet even Hansen would have to concede that there's only one true master of the comedy commentary - step forward Ron Atkinson.

Big Ron's completely nonensical, but hugely entertaining, ramblings have even inspired a website, called "Learn to speak Ronglish".

In Atko's world, a player who has done well gets a "spotter's badge", a fierce shot has been "given the full gun" and step-overs are "lollipops".

If Big Ron ever forgets a name, the player automatically becomes the big/little/blonde/ginger fella, and if he wants to really get his point across, he'll preface the comment with "I tell you what".

Ron Atkinson
Oops, I did it again

Amazingly, one of his more bizarre phrases has infused itself into the English language.

Now when you want to meet a mate down the pub you'll invariably say: "I'll see you down there early doors" - unbelievable.

Of course Ron's Ronglish doesn't amuse everyone.

English language purists must tear their hair out every time the big fella opens his mouth.

Come on chaps, give him a break. It's not as if he's ever professed to be Charles Dickens, to be fair.

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