Some people can get very sniffy if you use the word soccer. Very sniffy indeed. And there’s no point trying to tell them that the game you played as a kid was called soccer and not football.
It’s American, they’ll tell you. American soccer moms and hot-dogs on the bleachers. Before you know it they’ll want four quarters in our game of, that’s right, Football.
There’s no point in suggesting that the word soccer has the same linguistic origins as the word rugger, originating in English public schools as contractions of rugby football and association football.
No. It’s American. Nobody ever called Football soccer before the Americans started doing it.
Nobody at all?
How about Jimmy “The Chin” Hill, presenter of Match of the Day and champion of professional footballers’ rights?
How about Kevin Keegan, captain of England, star of Liverpool and Scunthorpe?
How about Raich Carter, who played his first game for Sunderland in 1931?
All American soccer moms, no doubt.
But if you don’t believe Jimmy Hill, Kevin Keegan and Raich Carter, do you think a company like Subbuteo would have marketed a board game based on the name of a sport nobody recognised?
All right. It’s still a conspiracy dreamed up by people who wouldn’t know a soccer ball from a burst ball-bag. Maybe we should turn to historical documentaries.
Here’s one from British Pathé newsreel of the Irish Soccer Derby of 1927.
British Pathé, you say? British? But … but …
Let me leave you with this clip from a newspaper I found recently when a friend was renovating an old building.
This 1935 article is in the Sunday Pictorial, as the Sunday Mirror used to be known.
American, you say?