Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The Language of Football: Part 4


As in, “Andy Johnson is not a diver, it was a stonewall penalty.”

Stonewall, according to the OED, means “to delay or block by refusing to answer questions or by giving evasive replies.” That doesn’t really fit in with common football usage.

Perhaps it’s a covert reference, or subtle tribute, to either the eponymous riots in New York in 1969, or the gay rights group that formed in their aftermath. Perhaps the gay and transgendered diners in the Stonewall Inn fled from raiding policemen attempting studs-up sliding tackles? Were drag queens brought down onto the Manhattan sidewalks by blatant blouse-pulling? This one remains, for now, a mystery.

Sir Bobby Robson once rather charmingly referred to a penalty as being “stone bonkers.” The significance of this we can only muse upon, privately.

Not to be confused with:
Dry Stone Wall – a structure that Jose Mourinho once accused Martin Jol’s Spurs team of building across their goal in an attempt to stop Chelsea scoring – successfully. This method of perimeter construction is traditional in the North West London area where it is used to prevent sheep from wandering onto the North Circular Road.
Stony-faced – default adjective to describe Sir Alex Ferguson after a Rooney dive has failed to earn a penalty.
Stoned – Paul Merson, “off on another one of his mazy runs”?

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