“where does the word nutmeg come from?” ask kevin mcday et al.
In background knowledge, we’ve looked at several possible answers, including that nutmeg is 1940s cockney slang that rhymes for leg. However, in his magnificent book Football Talk – The Language and Folklore of the World’s Major Game, Peter Seddon points to a much more likely etymology for nutmeg: that it stems from a misleading practice in the nutmeg trade.
Reading: What is a nutmeg in soccer
as he points out, the oxford english dictionary lists the verb nutmegged as “which arose in the 1870s and which in victorian slang came to mean ‘to be tricked or deceived, especially in a way that makes the victim look silly.'”
The word arose as a result of an acute practice used in nutmeg exports between America and England. “Nutmeg was such a valuable commodity that unscrupulous exporters used to make a quick buck by mixing wooden replicas into sacks shipped to England,” writes Seddon. “being duped soon came to imply stupidity on the part of the duped victim and intelligence on the part of the trickster.”
Considering much of the language of football dates back to its formative years, it seems like a better explanation for the word nutmeg than any we’ve heard before or since.
certainly sounds more convincing than jimmy hill’s claim that nutmeg was coined during the 1940s to describe the ability to place the ball between an opponent’s legs before recovering it on the other side. or even the suggestion made in alex leith’s book, over the moon, brian: the language of football, that walnuts – a term commonly used for nutmeg in the north of england – “refers to the testicles of the player to be through whose legs the ball has passed”. has passed and nutmeg is just a development of this.”
Everything is Greek to me
“Regarding the Italian team Hellas Verona, the word Hellas means Greece. Was the team originally founded by Greeks?” wonders Lazaros Spiropoulous.
You’re right, Lazarus. “in 1903, a group of students from the ‘maffei’ primary school in verona founded a football club,” explains robert blyth, senior researcher at the universita’ di lecce. “they were helped by some of their teachers, notably the Greek teacher, a Corubulo professor, who suggested the name ‘hellas’ for the team.” For more on Verona, as well as interesting reading, check out Tim Park’s excellent A Season With Verona.
“with liverpool now having 17 (thanks to michael owen) former players in premiership teams, has there ever been such a large number of one team now plying their trade for another in the same division?” asks barry keats.
While an honorable mention must go to the 21 former Leeds players who are currently furthering their senior careers away from Elland Road, it is Newcastle who can claim the honour.
This season, the Magpies could have a bonanza of old friends acts against 22 of their former employees in the premiership. in alphabetical order of clubs, they are:
aston villa – aaron hughes, james milner (on loan) birmingham – nicky butt blackburn – craig bellamy bolton – gary speed charlton – darren ambrose everton – alessandro pistone, duncan ferguson fulham – alain gum liverpool – dietmar hamann manchester city – andy cole , Sylvain Distinct, Stuart Pearce (now manager) Manchester United – Louis Saha Portsmouth – Andy O’Brien, Andy Griffin, Laurent Robert, Lomana Lualua Sunderland – Stephen Caldwell Tottenham – Jermaine Jenas West Brom – Steve Watson West Ham – Shaka Hislop and Breathe .
See also: ITP Glossary: Cover 3 – Inside The Pylon
biggest betting hits (2)
in knowledge last week, we mentioned the strange case of finnish capes veikkaus, who “saw the 8,787-1 they were offering in haka valkeakoski to beat allianssi vantaa 8-0 won by an unusually large number high roller – and then winced when it happened on July 7.”
We have overestimated this a bit, since as mika galkin points out, veikkas is a betting exchange. “in that particular match haka – ac allianssi only one euro was placed at 8-0 and a single punter collected 8786 euros. as far as i know the biggest bets on this match were made with asian bookmakers. however , the Finnish police are still investigating whether there is match-fixing involved.” for more information, go here.
can you help?
“can someone explain the origins of the ‘classic’ numbering system for starting players in a match before the introduction of squad numbers? (ie goalkeeper is #1, full-backs are # 2 and 3, central defenders 5 and 6, right midfielder 7, midfielder 4 and 8, left midfielder 11 and forwards 9 and 10),” asks dominic jones.
“Who has played the most games for England as a substitute?” matt toulson asks.
“I was at the wales v england game the other day and saw owen ‘i’ll-play-anywhere’ hargreaves come in for what must be his 189th game. my question is what is the total number of games has a player achieved before reaching 90 minutes for his country? if he plays in streaks of five minutes, a player would have to play 18 games before accumulating 90 minutes” – mark diggory.
Send your questions and answers to [email protected]