Dictionary365: F is for FA Cup, fairytales, fans, Fantasy Football, football, er, Football365, Forest and France

Dave Tickner
Fans hold up FA Cup trophy
Fans hold up FA Cup trophy

Six letters in to the dictionary, we inevitably alight at F. And this one has some important entries. Including football itself. And thus, also Football365.


FA Cup – The oldest cup competition in the world, sadly devalued by modern football’s top-four obsession but try telling that to these fans of non-league Bumblefuck Rovers FC who have prepared for the third-round visit of Crystal Palace by covering cardboard cut outs of the cup in foil, while the local entrepreneurial butcher has produced a special and horrifying sausage in club colours. (see also: Cup, Magic of the)

FA Cup final – once the final and most important game of the English season, now just whacked in wherever it fits and handed a kick-off time seemingly selected specifically to ensure the two sets of travelling fans from The North must choose between missing the last 10 minutes or missing their last train (see Fans)

Fairytale – see Leicester City, Leicester Fairytale

FA, The – The English Football Association, whose continued refusal to add the word ‘English’ to their name and accept several decades’ worth of observable reality tells you all you need to know about them.

Fans – Low-level stakeholders in the Football Business, whose blind loyalty can be exploited, monetised, manipulated and taken for granted both immediately after and before they are patted on the head, told how important they are and that the game doesn’t exist without them.

Fantasy Football – Wildly popular game in which punters pick a squad of footballers at quaintly outdated values within a quaintly outdated budget and watch those players accrue points for doing good things and lose them for doing bad things. Fantasy football players will often refer to themselves as ‘managers’ and labour under the constant misapprehension that anyone else – even other fantasy football players – cares one jot about the fact they triple-captained Harry Kane just before he missed a penalty.

Fenerbahce – Turkish superclub and likeliest current location of that fella you half-remember who scored three goals in 37 games for Spurs/West Ham/Everton/Villa.

Feyenoord – Likeliest Dutch champions on rare occasions it isn’t Ajax or PSV.

FIFA – Great bunch of benevolent overlords who run world football out of an altruistic and generous desire to ensure football retains its status as the global game, we thank them for their selfless service. Given all they do for us, who are we to quibble if they happen to have their own nests feathered a touch along the way?

Figo, Luis – A footballer so good opposition fans would throw pigs’ heads at him in a futile bid to stymie him.

Fiorentina – Magnificently-kitted Italian side now doomed forever to be unable to live up to either that kit or the fact Gabriel Batistuta used to wear it. Even managed to lose a European final to West Ham, for crying out loud.

Final – the decisive match of a knockout tournament and the chance to prune yourself a hero or more likely a big bottle job loser. Can define whole careers for better or worse. (see Karius, Loris)

Final day – the chaotic concluding round of games in a league season where titles can be won or lost, relegation confirmed or avoided and if we’re all really lucky the Europa Conference sport might even be up for grabs. Guaranteed iconic moments (see Aguerooooo) and misinformation. Nothing speaks higher for the ingenuity and mischief of the modern fan than the fact fake news of a crucial but fictitious goal in another game can and does still spread through a ground like wildfire in the smartphone age.

Fired – What happens to a manager when he doesn’t quit and isn’t sacked, mutually consented, nudged into retirement or moved upstairs.

First man – seemingly impenetrable barrier constructed every time that overpaid idiot on your team takes a corner. Like an absence of early substitutions, an infuriating and maddening handicap that all fans believe afflicts their team and their team alone.

Flick-on – Near-post header beloved of late 80s Arsenal centre-backs and rarely as effective as it seems like it should be. Famously dubbed the ‘little eyebrows’ in one of Big Ron Atkinson’s less problematic commentary neologisms.

Flop – Any expensive new signing who doesn’t immediately dazzle upon his introduction to a new team/country/league. Absolutely no player dubbed a flop within a fortnight has ever gone on to prove anyone wrong, which is why the practice continues.

Football –The name of one sport and one sport only. The greatest of sports, it is the one played primarily by kicking a ball with the foot and not any of the inferior ones played primarily by chucking an egg with the hand.

Football365 – Formerly good and nauseatingly self-referential football website.

Foot, left – see Left foot, cultured.

Footy – No.

Forest, Nottingham – Two-time European champions about to embark on just their eighth season in the Premier League despite their permanent and unchanging place alongside Sheffield Wednesday in yer da’s list of who should be the 20 teams in a ‘proper’ Premier League.

Forfar – Scottish football team and one half of everyone’s favourite banter scoreline.

Form – temporary (see Class).

Fortress – What every team at every level seeks to turn their home ground into, with usually limited success.

Fortune, element of – What literally every goal scored against your club has in common.

France – One of the very best major tournament nations, because they have adopted a policy of doing only the two most correct things for any team at a major tournament: being really good and either winning or going close, or failing that implode spectacularly and go out in the group stage in a hail of acrimony and despair. Perfect. Also currently possessed of such depth that by law any discussion of their tournament prospects must mention that their third-choice team could probably do quite well!

Francis, Trevor – First £1m man in English football when signing for Nottingham Forest, wearer of tracksuits that can be obtained from a mush in Shepherd’s Bush.

Fraud – Any apparently successful football player or manager who has inexplicably failed to prove his credentials in England. Or one who does so but only after the label has stuck, especially if it rhymes with a bit of their name.

Free-kick – Awarded for a foul or offence committed anywhere on the pitch. Mainly harmless, unless the offender has been careless enough to concede such a set-piece in David Beckham Territory (now undeniably less glamorously James Ward-Prowse Territory).

Front up – An impressive and seemingly uniquely English ability to minimise media criticism for a shonky performance by agreeing to sit or stand before said media and talk about it immediately afterwards (see Hart, Joe).

Fulham – London’s least problematic league club and every other London club’s favourite away day due to legendary pleasantness of location, opposition and fans.