Dictionary365: B is for Barcelona, Barclays, Beckham, Big Six and Brazil

Dave Tickner
David Beckham celebrates during the 1999 Champions League final

Week two of Dictionary365 sees up predictably arrive at the letter B. Which comes just after the letter A.


Badge – What a player will kiss three weeks before handing in a transfer request.

Ball – Can’t have a game without it. Although you can win one with very little of it. What teams should always strive to get their best player on. Also a synonym for pass in general use, but crucially and specifically not when prefixed by ‘long’ – those are two very different things, one of which is cultured and has great verticality and creates swift transitions and the other of which is a big ol’ hoof.

Baller – An accomplished exponent of Association Football.

Ballon d’Or – The most prestigious individual award in football and one largely commandeered over the last 15 years or so by a certain Cristiano Ronaldo and a certain Lionel Messi which is quite funny because you don’t have to go all that far back from the start of that GOAT duopoly to find Michael Owen winning it in 2001.

Ban – Dished out to players who get red and yellow cards. Not to be confused with ‘lengthy bans’ which are more commonly the suggested punishments whenever a small minority of idiots ruin something for the vast majority of genuine fans.

Banks, Gordon – World Cup-winning England goalkeeper who in 1970 made what is still the most famous save in football history which is quite a cool thing for a goalkeeper when you think about it.

Banter – Catch-all defence for anything from mild ribbing of team-mate’s dress sense or taste in music to sustained campaigns of misogynistic harassment and abuse.

Barcelona – Quite famous football club.

Barcelona, That Night In – Knowing reference to Manchester United’s dramatic 1999 treble-securing Champions League final win over Bayern Munich in which they came from 1-0 down to win 2-1 in the closing stages and a phrase friend of F365 Clive Tyldesley remains biologically incapable of getting through 90 minutes of commentary without uttering. (see Istanbul, That Night In)

Barclays, The – Still the accepted correct nickname for the Premier League despite Barclays not having been the title sponsors since 2016 (see Our League)

Barnstormer – A high-paced, exciting and generally goal-filled game of football and one of those words whose original meaning of ‘performing aerial acrobatics in small planes’ has been almost entirely lost to – or certainly entirely overtaken by – its metaphorical football-based deployment (see slide-rule). Also apparently a rollercoaster at Essex’s top-rated family day out, Adventure Island theme park in Southend.

Beckenbauer, Franz – Indisputably one of the greatest footballers of all time with the CV to prove it, grandfather of modern defending, World Cup winner as player and manager, and the only defender to win the Ballon d’Or twice. Our two favourite things about Beckenbauer, though, are that he scored the same number of goals in the 1966 World Cup as Geoff Hurst and that Der Kaiser is easily the coolest nickname in football history. Our least favourite thing is all that FIFA unpleasantness over Russia and Qatar.

Beckham, David – Fancypants showpony who enraged Yer Da by breaking Bobby Moore’s record for outfield England appearances. Subsequently lost that record to Wayne Rooney, which is better but still not okay. Was an early adopter of the MLS payday option, signing a contract with LA Galaxy that gave him the option to buy an MLS expansion team for $25m, which he duly did and now Inter Miami is a football club that can buy actual Lionel Messi. Despite playing almost 400 games for Manchester United, over 150 for Real Madrid and 115 for England, there are still people who think he could only take free-kicks. Not true. He could also take corners (this is a joke). Probably still England’s most famous footballer among people who aren’t football fans and enragingly getting more handsome with age. Won league titles in four countries – England, Spain, USA, France (on loan at PSG) – which no English player had done before. Scored from the halfway line. Scored an injury-time free-kick. Kicked Diego Simeone. Scored a penalty. Has a gold Blue Peter badge.

Bellingham, Jude – Preternaturally gifted and startlingly English central midfielder whose ability is such that the poor young sod inevitably dubbed ‘The next Jude Bellingham’ – Bristol City’s Alex Scott – is in fact only two months younger than the original Jude Bellingham. Having impressed for England and Borussia Dortmund, Bellingham has secured his dream move to Real Madrid for a fee of £88.5million or £115million depending on whether or not you are a British tabloid headline writer (see add-ons).

Bergkamp, Dennis – Arsenal and Ajax legend, a Dutch master with the feet of an angel and the brain of a genius, could do things on a football pitch mere mortals couldn’t even conceive of. But that goal was still definitely a fluke, come on.

Bias – The shameful, clouded, one-eyed view of a football club displayed, strangely, not by fans who support that club but by so-called journalists who don’t (see agenda).

Bid – The financial offer one football club makes to another when they wish to secure the services of a professional footballer currently under contract to said club. Can be opening, cheeky, exploratory, second, third, final, take-it-or-leave it, ambitious or record-breaking but always run the risk of suffering the worst fate in all of football: being dismissed as derisory and rejected out of hand

Big Club – Descriptor often deployed about club whose bigness is at best debatable. Often in terms that sound like the person using it is trying to convince themselves as much as anyone else. ‘This is a Big Club’. Often to be found describing A Premier League Club In All But Name.

Big Club Bias – The cause of any decision that goes in favour of a Big Club. Unlike ‘Big Club’ this usage tends to be about the actual indisputably big clubs and also Spurs.

Big Four – The old Big Six.

Big Lad – Generally to be found up front or in the heart of the defence and often in possession of a deceptive touch or jumping ability.

Big Seven – Catch-all term to describe the most important and bestest Premier League clubs that might well be a Big Six again before too long but not the original Big Six. It all depends on Spurs, as football and indeed life itself so very often does.

Big Six – The old Big Seven.

Bigger Club, Who is the – Deeply tiresome deliberately provocative dick-swinging and unsolvable debate in which the framing of it is so malleable as to make it entirely possible to argue Huddersfield are a bigger club than Spurs or Nottingham Forest a bigger club than Arsenal or Sunderland a bigger club than Chelsea if you really want to and for some reason people on the internet and certain radio stations really do want to. If you really want to spice things up, throw Celtic and/or Rangers up against middling Premier League teams.

Bins, Top – see Corner, Top

Blackburn – Middling north-west team who quaintly managed to buy the Premier League title for about 50 quid and a bag of chips in the ancient far-off history of 28 years ago.

Blackout, The 3pm – Well-intentioned but undeniably weird broadcasting rule that forbids live TV coverage of any football on Saturday afternoons based on the flimsy notion that nobody will bother going to watch their own silly little teams play if Barcelona v Real Madrid is on the telly at four.

Boca Juniors – All-conquering Argentinian football club, one half of the infamous Superclasico rivalry with River Plate, they are at least eighth on the list of shirts your hipster mate is most likely to turn up to five-a-side wearing and their ground, La Bombonera, probably top on his bucket list of stadiums to visit, a list he keeps a laminated copy of in his wallet and none of which he shall ever go to.

Boil over – Something spicy games threaten to do when running the risk of prompting scenes Nobody Wants To See.

Boleyn Ground – Temporary home of West Ham for a couple of years after they left Upton Park but before they moved to the London Stadium. Looked exactly like Upton Park, which was weird.

Bournemouth – see AFC Bournemouth.

Boss, The – see Gaffer, The

Brazil – If England is football’s literal physical home (which it probably isn’t but never mind) then Brazil is its spiritual home. Five-time winners of the men’s World Cup, famed and admired for their Jogo Bonito approach and possessors of one of international football’s greatest and most iconic kits. Football is a vast and global game and there are vanishingly few countries about whom it’s possible to say you simply can’t imagine the sport without them. We can all argue forever about how many countries make that very short list, but none can dispute that Brazil would sit right at the very top of it.

Brentford – Relative Premier League newcomers whose sensible and proven approach to steady progress and growth under an excellent manager has made them a byword for Going About Things The Right Way and who would get far more attention if it wasn’t for…

Brighton and Hove Albion – Relative Premier League newcomers whose sensible and proven approach to steady progress and growth under two excellent managers has made them a byword for Going About Things The Right Way.

Burnley – Serial above-weight-punching Sean Dyche sufferball merchants undergoing thus far wildly successful reinvention under Vincent Kompany.

Business, A – What football is these days.

Butcher, Terry – Centre-back who played almost 600 games of professional football for club and country, who played in three World Cups, won the UEFA Cup with Ipswich and enjoyed great domestic success in Scotland with Rangers before embarking on a long if only sporadically successful managerial career, yet also a man whose entire professional life is encapsulated by one single image that every single one of you already had in your head the moment you started reading this entry.

Butt, Nicky – Class of 92 alum and Pele’s player of the 2002 World Cup.