Dictionary365: C is for Celebration Police, Champions League, Chelsea, Christmas and Clickbait

Dave Tickner
Both Cantona and Chelsea begin with a C.

And so our chronicling of the language of football arrives at C, as is traditional after the letters A and B. It’s drearily traditional of us.


Calm – (see Cool)

Cameroon – To an entire generation of football fans, forever the team that danced and dazzled and, let’s be honest, hacked their way to the World Cup quarter-finals in 1990. To another generation, the team that had those sleeveless kits that one time. Also five-time Africa Cup of Nations champions, behind only Egypt.

Camp Nou – (see Nou Camp)

Caniggia, Claudio – Chief Argentinian recipient of aforementioned Cameroon hacking in 1990.

Cantona, Eric – Magnifique French bastard who bestrode the early years of the Premier League with collar popped and zero fucks given. Probably shouldn’t have booted that fan that time, but we’re all kind of secretly glad he did. When not being daftly brilliant at football he was talking about seagulls and trawlers or becoming an actor and being really rather good at that as well. Also, in perhaps his single greatest achievement, managed to pull off the near impossible by making a genuinely funny TV advert with those Kronenbourg ones about farmers and that.

Cash in – What all clubs are advised to do with a wantaway star because contracts mean nothing these days and you can’t keep a player against their will, despite neither of those things being true.

Catch – What all goalkeepers should do with all balls and crosses aimed into their penalty area, in the opinion of former outfield players turned pundits. It is certainly the British thing to do, with punching or parrying rightly viewed as deeply suspicious, weak, modern (which is bad) and above all else foreign (which is very, very bad).

Celebration Police – Crack team of dreary blowhards who devote their days to monitoring the celebrations of teams and fans and to make sure they are appropriate. As a rough guide, any team or fans seen celebrating or experiencing any kind of joy whatsoever from any achievement short of winning the league is unacceptable. And even a league win can be over-celebrated if care is not taken – luckily Chief Inspector Keys and Sergeant Agbonlahor are on hand at all times to make sure absolutely nobody has fun without being called small time and mocked. (see Arsenal)

Celtic – One half of Scotland’s Old Firm and winners of nearly all the trophies nearly all the time north of the border to widespread shrugs of indifference from everyone else. Been a while since there’s last been chat about how they and/or Rangers would fare if they joined the Premier League. Let’s kick that one off again, then: they’d do startlingly shit because football is ruined. First British club to win the European Cup. Chance of ever winning a second literally less than that of Aston Villa. Currently in the “Rodgers” phase of their perennial Rodgers-Lennon managerial cycle.

Chairman – The man (and it is still nearly always a man) in charge of a Football Club right up until the point there is some shit hitting the fan, at which point the man in charge is the manager who will be unceremoniously sacked by the chairman who vitally must face no consequences whatsoever for the eighth hiring and firing of his 10-year tenure.

Channels – Now archaic term for the places that broadcast football matches on TV, and where a willing runner is most likely to be found

Champions League – Elite European football competition that is neither a league nor exclusively for champions

Chants – The mainstay of the terraces, the traditional atmosphere-generating efforts of supporters encouraging their own team on to the greatest of heights or, more likely, casting aspersions and questioning the professional capabilities and/or sexual proclivities of the opposition and officials.

Charlton, Sir Bobby – Erstwhile England record goalscorer, fond of a thunderbastard and a combover that fooled nobody. Won the World Cup alongside his brother (see Charlton, Jack).

Charlton, Jack – One of the very best footballers ever to not be the best footballer in his own family (see Charlton, Sir Bobby). Also adopted by Ireland in wake of managerial exploits with the national team. Subject of one of Squires’ very, very best.

Chelsea – Far-fetched pantomime villain football team who, when faced with clubs taking even more villainous routes to success leant into the pantomime. Spent the last year ruining football by buying all the players for ridiculous sums of money, now spending this year ruining football by selling all the players for ridiculous sums of money. Also two-time Champions League winners. (see Abramovich, Roman and Boehly, Todd).

Chip – A very specific finish over a stranded or advancing keeper that is hard to describe but is distinctly different to a lob or a flick and you know it when you see it (see impudent).

Christmas period, Busy – The quintessentially British fondness for whacking as many matches as is feasibly possible into a two-week period when all the other far more sensible countries have their feet up or are at worst on a mid-season training break somewhere sunny and warm. English exceptionalism requires us to believe that this confuses and/or enrages Jonny Foreigner who is actually, as is increasingly often the case these days, merely shaking his head sadly at English daftness.

Clash – A football match of such notable import the simple moniker ‘game’ feels wholly inadequate. Could be title (from March onwards), top-of-the-table (pre-March), relegation or the usefully less specific crunch.

Class, Absolute (usually followed by clapping emoji) – Default social media response to football clubs doing anything even slightly nice while conveniently accompanied by camera crews

Class of 92 – Absurd collection of trophy-snaffling footballers who all emerged from the Old Trafford production line en masse and whose own mythology makes them seem now far more annoying than they are really. Apart from Phil Neville, who genuinely is a right wally. (see Manchester United; Beckham, David; Butt, Nicky, et al)

Clickbait – Football fan code for a 1500-word feature about Burnley the conclusion of which angers them (see journalism, Lazy).

Club, Football – Seemingly redundant and needlessly official explainer affixed to the end of any club’s name when you need to talk about them very seriously indeed. It’s almost never good news. “This is Manchester United Football Club we’re talking about here.”

Collapse – Can happen late on within a single game (see comeback) but perhaps more widely used to describe the unravelling of an entire season’s work in the last handful of games (see Arsenal).

Colombia – Most commonly misspelled of all the major football nations, and in 2018 suffered the unique ignominy of losing a World Cup penalty shoot-out to England.

Comeback – Among football’s most exciting spectacles as a team well behind in a game comes back thrillingly to win or at least draw. Football scholars remain irrevocably split over whether or not a comeback can be described as ‘complete’ at an equalising goal or only when the lead is taken. Most likely a counterpoint to a collapse. Very likely to involve Spurs in one role or the other.

Common sense – The one thing we want from referees, apart from when the one thing we want from referees is consistency.

Composure – Vital attribute the maintaining of which is among the core skillset of all world-class strikers who you knew were going to score because they simply don’t miss from there.

Consistency – The one thing we want from referees, apart from when the one thing we want from referees is common sense.

Contracts – Things players sign to say how long they are happy to play for a particular Football Club. Or more accurately, two years longer than they are happy to play for a particular Football Club before they demand a transfer they surely deserve for their 18 months of loyal service.

Cool – What a player – and indeed referee – must endeavour to maintain when tempers flare. Also the kind of finish required when presented with a one-on-one opportunity.

Corner – A set-piece that proffers about a one per cent chance of a goal and yet the winning of which will get an English football crowd disturbingly giddy.

Corner, Top – see Stamp, Postage

Corridor of uncertainty – Evocative phrase shamelessly pilfered from cricket and used to describe a cross sent into an area where defenders and goalkeeper are unsure whether to try and deal with it or leave it to the other. Almost always a low cross fizzed across the six-yard line that just needed someone to provide the finishing touch but alas found a confidence-shorn striker on his heels.

Cracked badge – Lovely piece of tabloid graphic shorthand to show when things have reached the absolute lowest possible ebb for a beleaguered crisis club. A well-deployed back-page badge cracking at the right moment can bring down a manager in a matter of hours.

Creative enough – One of two things England are not (see also Positive enough).

Creator – Near mythical player almost all clubs are in near constant need of finding

Cricket score – Baffling description of a particularly one-sided scoreline despite 0-0 being every bit as much of a cricket score as 10-1 or whatever.

Crisis club – There must always be one. And this doesn’t mean something like, for instance, a lower-league club whose very existence is imperilled by dodge-pot owners who’ve run off with all the club’s money. No, it’s only about important things, like a Big Six club that has gone four games without a win and might possibly be about to sack the manager.

Crunch – See clash.

Crunching – A hefty tackle.

Croatia – Small country with vast football pedigree. Finalists and semi-finalists at last two World Cups. A really quite staggering percentage of its four million people are elite world-class footballers. Most important of all, though? Absolutely smashing checkerboard kits.

Crystal Palace – (see Palace, Crystal)