I’m drawn to listening to Talksport radio. My wife hates it and my daughters too; it must be all that blokeish bickering about whether it was a penalty or not. I know what they mean to me honest; it’s full of inane chat and despite having schedules full of ex-footballers/managers it rarely delivers any insight. You could listen to messrs Quinn, Gould, Cundy and Warnock for a 100 hours apiece and never get beyond the cliche-ridden level of comment. It’s like being trapped in a conversation with Alan Shearer but with some cackling thrown in for good measure. So why do I listen to it? Because I love words and phrasing and there’s something compelling about the way footballers talk, the little expressions they use and have all adopted. The undisputed master of the footie jargon is the man with the most endearing rhotic speech mannerism Ray Parlour, often referred to as the Romford Pele, or as Ray would introduce himself Way Pahwer, the Womfud Pehwy.
I love listening to Ray, he’s always upbeat. England are always going to win the World Cup and Arsenal the Premiership in Ray’s world. If Ray was a song he’d be ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’. After 2 or 3 minutes listening to him I can’t stop myself talking Rayspeak. It drives C nuts but I can’t help it. All of a sudden I’m a perky Essex geysah with dodgy hair (ha!). And of course you’ve gotta talk football by using the phrases that Ray comes out with. So when referring to a number of football players and teams it’s necessary to describe them as ‘your Rooneys, your Lampards and your Messis’ and the teams as ‘your Barcelonas, your Man Utd’s, your Real Madrids’. The exception to this is when referring to the scousers where the only acceptable phrase is LiverpoolFootballClub. It’s always referred to in this long-form. Don’t ask me why it’s just the way football people do it.
Another stock Rayism is when a manager ‘loses the dressing room’ like he’s put it down somewhere and can no longer find it. But what Ray means is that the prima donna footballers have decided that they’ve had enough of ‘the pwoject’ and being shouted at for performing like a pub team and have sent the captain and ‘Vicey’ off to see the Chairman/Chief Executive for ‘a quiet one’. It’s ‘goodbye Paulo’ at that point. If only the players had ”pwayed between the wines’ better and had learned how to ‘twansition from defence into attack’ with a bit more ‘zip’ and got the ball up to the ‘false no 9’ in ‘your Barcelona style’ things might have been different.
Ah if only signor Di Canio had listened to Ray earlier. Now I’d like to be a fly on the wall at that conversation. Molto bene Raymondo.