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Football is a game of two halves . . . and many more inane cliches

The fitba' season beckons with all that giddy glee that the Wehrmacht once reserved for the weather forecast in Stalingrad.

Mark Lawrenson and Gary Lineker are back for the fitba'
Mark Lawrenson and Gary Lineker are back for the fitba'

It will be colder with more casualties in the Scottish kickball campaign, of course. But who could not warm to the prospect of the SPFL campaign? A rational human being with a life of purpose, I hear you say.

But as there are very few of those in my immediate circle who fall into that category - or even stand up in that category - it is best to devote these witterings to matters of the round ball and, more specifically, what commentators mean when they launch a cliche attack that observes no ceasefire.

I have a lot of time for commentators. Usually about 90 minutes with time added on. But I accept they are designed to irritate rather than inform. It is not their fault. Well, it is if one is Mark Lawrenson.

It is an occupational hazard in football commentary that the punter knows more about the game than the expert and that the commentator develops verbal tics that cannot be removed without the aid of disinfectant. Most guys on the telly or radio, too, have a group of phrases that is guaranteed to make the viewer as angry as Roy Keane when he is told Fergie is his fellow analyst. Dr Freud should be the Irishman's analyst, but that is a tale for another day.

Here are the top 10 commentator phrases and what they mean. The top 10 MacDonald phrases and what they mean can be found in the latest edition of Psychiatric Disorders: Their Causes and Symptoms.

10 His first touch let him down

No, what let him down is that he has a level of technical ability that once would have made him last pick in the kickabout in Busby Glen.

9 He switched off there

The only time he has been switched on was when he availed himself of a supplement his agent described, in precisely clinical terms, as Good Gear.

8 He has that in his locker

No, the only things he has in his locker are: more hair products than Vidal Sassoon, a Nuts magazine and a tube of Deep Heat for applying to his team-mates' designer underpants.

7 Oh, that was a late flag

No it wasn't. First, the assistant referee must wait to see whether the player in an offside position intends to interfere with play. The only thing that is late is the commentator's grasp of the rules of the game. Late as in deceased, deid, no more.

6 He can't complain about that

Yes, he can. And if you look at the screen you will finding him doing just that with the foaming mouth of a rabid dog and the emotional stability of a two-year-old who has just been robbed of his ice-cream cone.

5 It's early doors

No, it isn't. It is not even late lintel or punctual window.

4 He's making a bit of a meal of that

This is almost exclusively aimed at foreign players and precedes an emergency intervention by a doctor who performs a rudimentary tracheotomy and quadruple bypass on the pitch.

3 He will be disappointed with that

Nope. He will forget all about that in a flash. His causes for disappointment are as follows: his agent failing to line him up for a boot deal for a sum that would consign world poverty to history, his missus not going on that weekend away so that he has to miss the Page 3 Stunna night out, and his Bentley Mulsanne not having a Twitter feed on its dashboard.

2 The keeper has come a long way

This is not a reference to the custodian's spiritual, emotional or intellectual journey. There has been none since his dad dropped him on his head. When he was 22. The remark refers instead to an intervention on the pitch. Yet the goalkeeper has not travelled far at all. He is still in the same time zone, the same post code and, indeed, in the same 18-yard box that he has inhabited for all the game. The goalkeeper has not come a long way. He has stepped off his line.

1 The wall has done its job

The job of a wall is to separate rooms and to hold up ceilings. What has happened is that one man has kicked a ball very hard and it has hit another man.

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Football

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