1) "Who's got tape?"
The gold-dust of amateur football, despite being available in any hardware shop. As the sole provider of tape, once you declare and dispense it, you will never see it again.
2) Injury Prevention
The warm-up routine of the typical Sunday league team is a complex one, drawing on the game's modern obsession with sports science:
- Jog from one touchline to the other
- Run back again - knees up at the front
- And again - heels up at the back
- And again, "picking it up a little bit"
- Sprint to the line, having left around 70% of the team by the wayside
The substitutes, should your team be fortunate enough to have any, are spared this tedium. They have the important task of firing the ball at the goalkeeper from the six-yard line as part of his carefully-tailored warm-up programme.
3) "Ref! Ref!! How long?"
Usually asked by an overexcited player from the leading team, with surprising desperation. Whatever the answer, the player will always add about 10% on before relaying the revised figure to his teammates.
4) "Watch the short!"
It is considered a cardinal sin to let an opposing Sunday league team pass a goal-kick out to a full-back. Precisely what sort of devastating attack an average Sunday league team are expected to be capable of, deep in their own half, with the ball at the feet of statistically the least capable player in their ranks, is anyone's guess.
Traditional goal-kicks, thumped aimlessly as far down the pitch as possible, aren't often the task of the goalkeeper. As the designated goal-kick taker for my side, I can confirm that fetching the ball in preparation for this moment is one of the more soul-destroying aspects of life at around 11am on every Sunday between September and May.
5) "They're fighting amongst themselves!"
An extension of "All day! All day!" from Part One, this is the ultimate psychological blow you can land on the opponents, so gleefully is it delivered.
6) "One of you!"
When a Sunday league midfield is so often instructed to "get a [insert team's shirt colour] head on this", you often witness an unsightly clash of [insert team's shirt colour]-clad bodies as they attempt to perform their primary duty. It is left to a team-mate to helpfully point out that only one of them was required on the scene.
7) How to Insult a Sunday League Opponent - a 3-Step Guide
The Respect campaign is yet to trickle down the grassroots, it seems. Sunday league pitches can be horrible places, as devoid of joy as they are of any real wit. With that in mind, it seems pertinent to document the standard procedure for unpleasantries. When angry adversaries clash, the following hierarchy of verbals should ensue:
- Appearance - Latch on to anything you legally can. Having ginger hair or (in my case) no hair puts one at a significant disadvantage here. Should you be on the receiving end of this, though, my advice is to act genuinely horrified and heartbroken - no-one's prepared for that.
- Presumed intelligence - neither big, nor clever, but this is barrel-scraping territory.
- Footballing ability - Surprisingly, the last bastion of offence in any on-pitch exchange. A simple "you're shit" often seems to suffice.
Amid the snarling testosterone-toting, the hand of friendship can still be extended. Exchanging cheerful words with your opposite number can seem a little odd, and the moment is fleeting, usually because of the sheer banality:
Ask them "how they're doing in the league" - an answer he is unlikely to be able to accurately provide, which is fortunate since you don't actually care.
Ask them if that's their regular goalkeeper - Often squarely to blame for all eleven goals that have sailed past him, the goalkeeper is a worthy spectacle to discuss with his striker. Sharing in his resigned despair at a floundering teammate is a tenuous kinship, which borders on patronising.
9) "Don't let it bounce!"
A rare example of a phenomenon that afflicts a Premier League side just as much as it does your Sunday league rabble. Letting the ball bounce, especially there, is (like raising your hands to an opponent) traditionally asking for trouble.
10) "See it out!" vs "Leave it!"
The former is perfectly acceptable, the latter an absurd taboo. Physical and verbal abuse is dished out in spades but no-one's ever conceded a free-kick for shouting "L**ve it!" after the age of about thirteen.
Thanks to Twitter for providing the occasional few #sundayleagueshouts that weren't about being "pissed from the night before" and which helped compile this.