Playing football into your thirties requires many qualities. A passable level of physical fitness, a distant memory of what to do if the ball comes your way and a waistline not so ample that the opposition point and snigger during the warm-up.
However, as important as any of these is the ability to shout inane comments at high volume. This primitive form of ritualistic encouragement is a crucial part of the amateur footballer's armoury.
It is a truth recognised at the top level. One of the reasons given by Sir Alex Ferguson for the departure of Jaap Stam from Manchester United was that he was too quiet. (Ferguson's argument was undermined by the fact that Stam's replacement was Laurent Blanc, a French-man who speaks virtually no English.) The official line was that a louder man was required at the back, even if he was years older, yards slower and by some distance an inferior defender.
Of course, Stam was actually sold because he was deemed to have been disloyal. But the fact that the Dutchman's alleged taciturnity was identified as a weakness by the best club manager in Britain reveals much. Shouting matters.
To be honest, I'm not one of life's trumpet-tongued footballers; more of a Stam than a Roy Keane. Still, when chided by my team-mates I do what the majority of park players do. I think of matches I have watched and bellow the sort of semi-informed clichés that issue from the touchline of, say, Port Vale against York City – morale-boosting platitudes I can shout at reasonably high volume (basically, the sort of thing you shout at the television).
If you want some advice for on-pitch chat, it is: keep it simple. Indeed, "Keep it simple!" is a classic of the genre, as is "Play it to feet!" or the chest-thumping "Let's win this!"
Others might include "Push up!", "Keep pressuring!" or "Squeeze them in!" If in doubt, think of a Wonderbra ad and you won't go far wrong. The beauty is, you can say whatever you want as long as it's said with force.
"Take them out!" is another example. This, incidentally, is an oblique reference to the offside trap, and should be yelled when the ball is cleared by your side's defence after a corner kick. It has nothing to do with kicking lumps out of your opponents (or selling bras).
Daymo – Damien to his mum – is good at shouting, and he is also one of our best players. On Saturday he scored a beauty from 30 yards, the ball swaying through the air before hitting the top corner of the net. In contrast, my own attempt to play the offside trap led to the equaliser. "Offside?" I suggested to no one in particular as their centre-forward skipped through the heart of the defence, rounded the keeper and scored. Apparently not.
Had I roared, we might have got three points rather than one. Who says amateur footballers have nothing to shout about?Reuse content