Asperger’s Experiences & Personal Growth: Stephen’s Evolution

Beyond Words: A Unique View of Football Language from the Autistic Spectrum

November 28, 2023 Episode 21
Asperger’s Experiences & Personal Growth: Stephen’s Evolution
Beyond Words: A Unique View of Football Language from the Autistic Spectrum
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome to a special episode, where I aim to dive into the fascinating world of football language. I'm Stephen McHugh, your guide on this unique journey. As someone on the autistic spectrum, I've often navigated the literal views of language, experiencing moments of confusion and discovery.

In this episode, I aim to unravel the linguistic marvels that colour football matches, offering insights into how individuals on the autistic spectrum perceive and interpret the beautiful game's verbal tapestry. From 'Raining Goals' to the 'Icing on the Cake,' join me in decoding the language of football, exploring how literal views add a layer of complexity and charm. 

Whether you're a football enthusiast or curious about the intersection of autism and language, this episode promises a thoughtful exploration. Let's kick off this linguistic adventure together!


Introduction (0 - 3:47)


It's Raining Goals Here (3:52 - 5:54)

Asleep; Wake Up  (6:00 - 8:16)

Pay the Penalty (8:21 - 10:31)

Bubble Burst and Fortress  (10:36 - 13:11)

Flying High; Confidence Sky High; Confidence Rock Bottom (13:15 - 16:15)

Crosses are being Whipped/Zipped In now; 
& Talk about Square Pegs in Round Holes  (16:20 - 19:20)

Point to Prove  (19:24 - 21:37)

Mountain to Climb; Weather the Storm (21:42 - 24:26)
Icing on the Cake / The Cherry on the Cake   (24:30 - 26:48)

Conclusion and Outro   (26:53 - End)



Thanks for listening. You can find me on my website, or on twitter here. You can sign up to receive news of new episodes when they're released here.

Artwork produced by Elena Designe
Music composed by Nela Ruiz

Introduction (0 - 3:47)

"Hello, football fans, and welcome back to another episode of the Stephen’s Evolution Podcast. I'm excited to have you join me once again.  For those of you who are listening for the first time, I'm Stephen McHugh, your host. I’m on the autistic spectrum, and I make fortnightly episodes based on my lived experiences. It is through my lived experiences that I aim to inspire hope in others who may be on similar paths.

In the last episode, I did a mix of Halloween and Bonfire Night football themes, but today, I’m getting back to the core of the beautiful game, and continuing the language theme at the same time. I have a fantastic lineup of football phrases for you. I believe they’re ones that you might often hear from commentators during matches.

Now, before we dive into the football talk, I want to take a moment to emphasise something important. This podcast is for everyone, and inclusivity is key. I want to try and make sure that every football fan, regardless of their background or experiences, feels welcome here. In that spirit, this episode is not just about the game itself; it's about the language we use to describe it.

A little bit more about myself. I used to take literal views of language, but now I find it much easier to understand. Right now, in this episode the aim is to show how these phrases can be made more understandable to you, if you struggle with more complicated forms of language.

Some of you listeners might be on the autistic spectrum. In an effort to make this episode as inclusive as possible, I’m  going to explore these football phrases in a way that's not just entertaining but also educational. So, whether you're a football fan or just someone looking to learn a bit more about the language of the game, stay around. 

As we go through these phrases together, I'll encourage you to think about situations where you might hear them. It's a fun exercise that not only helps you understand the language of football, but also aims to add an extra layer of engagement to our discussion together here.

Without further ado, let's get this episode underway, and explore the fascinating world of football language. So, sit back, relax, and let's get started!

Phrase 1: "It's Raining Goals Here” (3:52 - 5:54)

Alright then folks, let's jump straight into our first football phrase of this episode: 'It's raining goals here.' Now, I want you to hit the pause button and think about that for a moment. When do you think you might hear this phrase during a football match? Picture the scene, and when you're ready, press play again.

[Pause for a few seconds]

Welcome back! I hope you've had a chance to think up some football imagery in your mind in relation to this first phrase. Now, let me walk you through my example.

Imagine you're sitting in the stands or watching on your sofa from the comfort of your own home, eagerly watching an exciting match. The rain is pouring down, adding an extra layer of drama to the game. And what's happening on the field? Goals, goals, and more goals! The teams are delivering a scoring spectacle here as you can imagine in such a scene the challenging weather conditions they may be facing.

So, when you hear the commentator exclaim something like, 'It's raining goals here,' it's not just a description of the weather; it's a vivid expression of the goal-scoring frenzy during the game. 

And here's the way I see it:  as you can imagine, when it’s raining, there are lots of raindrops falling. I try to compare them to the lots of shots at the goal which result in the goals. It can be like a storm of scoring opportunities!

Phrase 2: "Asleep; Wake Up" (6:00 - 8:16)

"Moving on to our next football phrase: 'See that player there, he needs to wake Up.' I want you to  hit the pause button and think about when you might hear this during a football match, and go take a moment to think about it.

[Pause for a few seconds]

Welcome back! Did you have a go? Let's dive into my example for this one.

Imagine you're at a game, or watching it on TV, and there's a player who seems a bit out of sync, not fully aware of what's happening around him, or them. You might hear the commentator say something like, 'They’re  asleep, they need to wake up, otherwise, it could only be a matter of time before the other team scores.' 

Now, here of course, we don't mean the player is literally taking a nap on the field. Think about it. Whenever you’re asleep, you’re unaware of what’s going on around you.  It's a figurative way of describing a lack of awareness.

When a commentator refers to a player as being 'asleep,' it means they're not fully engaged in the game, and it becomes a concern for their team. The urgency in the commentator's voice when they say, 'They need to wake up!' This is a call to action for me. It’s a plea for the player to snap out of it and get back into the rhythm of the match.

Feel free to share your own examples or experiences related to players being 'asleep' on the field. It's quite a common phrase in football, and we've all seen those moments when a quick awakening can make all the difference.

If you’ve ever played in games yourself, you’ve probably experienced this.

Stay tuned, as there are more intriguing football phrases to explore in this episode!"

Segment 3: "Pay the Penalty" (8:21 - 10:31)

"Alright then, listeners, let's get stuck into the next football phrase: It is 'Pay the Penalty.' Go ahead and hit pause. Imagine the scene where this phrase might be uttered during a football match. Take a moment to envision it.

[Pause for a few seconds]

Welcome back! Did you manage to envision it yourself? Now, let's unravel my example.

Imagine a nail-biting scenario: The scores are level, the tension is palpable, and a team is awarded a precious penalty in the last minute. As you can imagine, this can be a critical moment, a golden opportunity to get ahead. But alas, the penalty is missed! The commentator's voice echoes, 'Oh, they've missed it, and they could well pay the penalty later.'  Moments later, the opponents take advantage, when they go down the other end of the field, and score what turns out to be the winning goal.

It's not just about missing the penalty kick; it's about the repercussions that might swiftly follow, often in the form of the opposing team seizing the advantage and securing victory. The alliteration here, with the repeated 'P' sounds, adds a poetic touch to the narrative.

Feel free to share your own stories, or memories of moments related to teams having to 'pay the penalty' in a match. If you’ve played in matches, have you ever faced situations like this where you could say, “I paid the penalty for that”. 

Stay tuned, as we continue to unravel more football phrases in this episode!"

Segment 4: “Bubble Burst and Fortress” (10:36 - 13:11)

"Welcome back, wonderful listeners! We're continuing to dive into our next set of football phrases, and this time, we're going to be exploring the dynamic duo of 'Bubble Burst' and 'Fortress.' Go ahead and hit pause. Try and think of, and imagine footballing moments where these alliterative phrases might reverberate. What's playing out in your mind?

[Pause for a few seconds]

Are you back? Fantastic! Now, let's craft my scenario for you.

'Bubble Burst'—picture a team on a triumphant winning streak, a bubble ballooning bigger with each passing victory. But behold, there comes a match where that bubble finally bursts! This phrase is often heard when a team's long winning run comes to an end. 

Now, let's intertwine this with another intriguing phrase: 'Fortress.' Picture a team's home ground as their fortress—a formidable fort, a forbidding place for foes to face. It's a stronghold, a symbol of strength. And here's the linguistic side to it: 'Fort' in French translates to 'strong.'

So, picture this: A team's bubble bursts during a battle at their fortress. The place where they've been undefeated for a long time suddenly witnesses the end of that glorious run. 

Feel free to share your experiences tied to teams experiencing the 'bubble burst' at their 'fortress.' It's a captivating blend of metaphor and reality that can make football so enchanting.

Stay with me, as we continue together our exploration of football phrases

Segment 5: "Flying High; Confidence Sky High; Confidence Rock Bottom" (13:15 - 16:15)

"Hello again, football enthusiasts! Our journey through football phrases continues even further. This time we're going to be exploring the trio of 'Flying High,' 'Confidence Sky High,' and 'Confidence Rock Bottom.' I invite you to hit pause and contemplate when these phrases might be used across the football landscape. What scenes come to mind?

[Pause for a few seconds]

Welcome back! Let's paint a picture for you.

'Flying High'—imagine a team soaring up the league table, riding a wave of success. They're high-fliers, dominating their opponents and basking in the glory of a stellar season.

Now, let's delve into 'Confidence Sky High.' I’m sure we’ve all looked up to the sky, where planes soar up high. Similarly, the players of this high-flying team have their confidence soaring to incredible heights. It's like the sky itself, limitless and unbounded.

On the flip side, imagine a team that's hit a rough patch, a run of poor results leaving their confidence at 'Rock Bottom.' Visualise the rocks on the sea bed in the deepest parts of the world's oceans. That kind of emphasises, for me, how low their confidence must have sunk.

Now, conjure this scenario: The team at 'Confidence Rock Bottom' is about to face off against the team where players' confidence is 'Sky High.' It's a clash of extremes, a pivotal moment that can redefine the trajectory of a season.

Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences tied to teams experiencing the highs and lows of confidence in football. Have you ever been to a funfair where you’ve seen a rollercoaster ride, and seen all the ups and downs it has? Football can be like a rollercoaster ride that keeps us hooked on the beautiful game.

Our exploration of football phrases continues even further, so stay tuned.

Segment 6: "Crosses are being Whipped/Zipped In now”; “Talk about Square Pegs in Round Holes" (16:20 - 19:20)

"Welcome back to our continued exploration of football phrases. It continues here with the dynamic duo of 'Crosses Whipped/Zipped In' and 'Square Pegs in Round Holes.' Hit pause and imagine when you might hear these phrases during a match. What's transpiring on the football field?

[Pause for a few seconds]

Great to have you back! And now let's get into the intricacies of these phrases.

Picture this: A team on the pitch is employing tactics that just aren't working. They show little signs of scoring, let alone clinching a victory. This is where we bring in 'Square Pegs in Round Holes.' The tactics just  don’t seem to work, much like trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Picture it. It's not a perfect match. It leaves gaps in the strategy, making it ineffective.

Now, envision a moment where a tactic change unfolds. 'Crosses are now being whipped in, crosses are now being zipped in'. This now takes centre stage. Picture a whip in motion—swift, dynamic, and creating problems for the opponent's defence. 

The crosses are coming in like the tip of a whip in full motion. Alternatively, think of the last time, a zip closing on a tracksuit top or coat. You might have done it when going to football matches. Think back to how quick and seamless it was, and effective too. Such crosses can cause such chaos for the opposition to deal with.

In the world of tactics, it's about finding the right fit. 'Crosses Whipped or zipped In' showcase a strategy that's swift, effective, and fitting seamlessly into whatever the game plan might be.

Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences related to tactics that either felt like 'Square Pegs in Round Holes' or were as smooth as 'Crosses Whipped/Zipped In.' It's like a chess match that unfolds on the pitch.

Stay with me, as the exploration of football phrases continues."

Segment 7: "Point to Prove" (19:24 - 21:37)

"Hello again! Our journey through these football phrases takes an intriguing turn with 'Point to Prove.' Before we dive in, hit the pause button and envision when you might hear this phrase. [Pause for a few seconds]

Are you back? Fantastic! Now, let's delve into a captivating scenario.

Picture this: A former player returns to the ground of his old team with his current new team. The air is charged with anticipation. This player, determined to make a statement, has a 'Point to Prove.' Maybe he felt undervalued or overlooked by his former team.

As the match unfolds, the tension rises. Imagine there’s only moments to go. His new team is losing only by a single goal. And then it happens—he scores! The goal not only levels the score, but also earns his new team a crucial point.

In those final moments, he may look towards his former teammates, his celebration saying, 'I had a point to prove, and I just did.'

 Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences related to players having a 'Point to Prove' against their former clubs. And if you’ve played for a number of teams including any former clubs of yours, if you showed that  you had a point to prove. This can be a storyline that can often play out in the drama-filled world of football.

Are you ready for the next phrase? Let’s continue our exploration of more interesting football phrases in today's episode!"

Segment 8: "Mountain to Climb; Weather the Storm" (21:42 - 24:26)

"Welcome back, football enthusiasts! Our exploration of football phrases marches on with 'Mountain to Climb' and 'Weather the Storm.' Hit pause and reflect on when these phrases might echo across the football stadium. What challenges do you envision?

[Pause for a few seconds]

Are you back? That’s brilliant! Now, let's scale a metaphorical mountain together.

Imagine this: A team finds themselves in the relegation zone, facing a considerable gap between them and safety. You could say they've got a 'Mountain to Climb.' Picture the challenges here—a steep climb, rugged terrain, and unpredictable weather. Trying to climb out of the relegation zone can be compared to navigating a mountainous journey, fraught with all kinds of difficulties.

Now, shift your focus to 'Weather the Storm.' The team in the relegation zone encounters a difficult period, a metaphorical storm. It's a testing time with plenty of challenges ahead. But, with resilience and strategic manoeuvring, they might successfully 'Weather the Storm.' Imagine being outside in a storm—the winds howling, the rain pouring, and the lightning illuminating the sky. Now transpose that intensity onto the football pitch.

The team's journey becomes a story of overcoming adversity. Successfully weathering the storm becomes the key to eventually climbing out of the relegation zone. It's a narrative that unfolds in the unpredictable theatre of football.

Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences related to teams. Can you think of moments where you felt they had a ‘Mountain to Climb' or had to 'Weather a Storm?' This is a testament to the resilience and determination that define the beautiful game.

Do you want more football phrases? Then stay with me, as the exploration continues.

Segment 9: "Icing on the Cake" / "The Cherry on the Cake" (24:30 - 26:48)

"Hello again, we're reaching the crescendo of this football phrase journey which, for me, is a delicious  one: 'The Icing on the Cake.' Before we savour this phrase together, hit pause and picture the scene where it might unfold. What might be occurring on the field for this phrase to apply?

[Pause for a few seconds]

Are you back? That's fantastic ! Now, let's indulge in a delightful scenario.

Imagine a team putting on a stellar performance, leading by several goals. The crowd is in awe, the players are all in sync with one another, and then, near the end of the game, they score yet another goal. 'And that’s the icing on the cake.' As you can imagine, the icing on the cake, it's sweet. Going back to when the team scores another goal, and that icing on the cake moment, it’s the sweet crowning moment that not only gives the team's performance a polished look, but also adds a delicious taste to the overall experience.

And, in another flavourful twist, we could say it's 'The cherry on the cake.' Just like adding a cherry to a cake transforms it into a masterpiece, that late goal is the finishing touch, the extra layer of joy for the team and its fans. Doesn’t the victory give the team a nice look and, of course, a delicious taste.

Do you have any thoughts or experiences related to witnessing moments in football that felt like the 'Icing on the Cake' or 'The Cherry on the Cake.' These are the sorts of moments that can stay etched in our memories, and add to the magic of the beautiful game.

Conclusion and Outro (26:53 - End)

"Before we wrap up this episode, I want to remind you again you can be a part of this conversation. Share your thoughts and experiences related to the football phrases, or any other memorable moments. These moments can make the game of football the exciting game it can be.

As we conclude this episode’s exploration of football phrases, remember that football is full of these kinds of phrases. Each one contributes to the rich narrative of the sport. Your experiences and insights can make this tapestry richer, and I'd love to hear them.

You can connect with me on Twitter, via  the link in the footer of my website Additionally, you can also share your thoughts via the Contact Page on the website itself.

And hey, if you haven't already, I encourage you to subscribe to my podcast. Head to a section close to the footer of the homepage on my website. There, you’ll find a  subscription link. It's the best way to stay updated on all the latest episodes, ensuring you don't miss any future interesting language, and phrase explorations.

And as we approach the final whistle of this episode, I want to take this opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you for joining me on this fascinating language journey, if you’ve chosen to do so. And especially through the language of football. Your passion for the game, and your engagement can make this exploration truly special.

Remember, football is more than just a game; it's a narrative woven with phrases that capture the essence of every kick, every goal, every move, every piece of skill, and every emotion on the pitch. Whether it's 'Raining Goals' or facing a 'Mountain to Climb,' each phrase paints a unique stroke on the canvas of this wonderful game.

Thank you for being part of this football language journey, if you’ve chosen to do so. Your engagement and support can truly mean the world to me. Until next time, goodbye for now,  and keep the passion for the game as strong as ever. 

It's Raining Goals Here
Asleep; Wake Up
Pay the Penalty
Bubble Burst and Fortress
Flying High; Confidence Sky High; Confidence Rock Bottom
Crosses are being Whipped/Zipped In now & Talk about Square Pegs in Round Holes
Point to Prove
Mountain to Climb; Weather the Storm
Icing on the Cake / The Cherry on the Cake
Conclusion and Outro