Football: Sporting Vernacular 10. DRIBBLING

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The Independent Online
RYAN GIGGS' wondrous goal for Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final on Wednesday was as perfect an example of the dribble as you will see.

The word has long been associated with anything emanating either in a succession of drops or in a thin stream, or a delivery of something (a payment, for example) in small quantities. In 1865, in his biography of Frederick the Great, Carlyle's wrote: "From about the end of June, the Reichs Army kept dribbling in".

The word was a development of "drib", an onomatopoeic corruption of "drip" or "drop" (cf. "dribs and drabs"). It was applied at first only to liquids. Later, in billiards, it came to denote the act of giving the ball a slight push, and from this it became applied to football - moving the ball forward by dint of a succession of nudges.

The Sporting Gazette in 1863 gave a description of the Eton game, "when the `long-behind' is dribbling the ball before his feet slowly forward", while the 1868 Football Annual wrote about "the science of working the ball along the ground by means of the feet." By that definition, Giggs should be a Nobel Prize-winner.

Chris Maume