Beat around the Bush

‘BANTER’ is defined by as a supple term used to describe an activity or chat that is playful, intelligent and original. Nothing fashions a superb exchange of banter between counterparts better than football.

Whether it be bouncing humorous and sharp comments off each other regarding the weekend’s results or even commenting profusely on a friend’s contentious Facebook status, the clash of light-hearted opinions on football adds to our infatuation with the beautiful game.

The vast expansion of social networking sites and online football forums has infinitely augmented our ability to mock ridiculous comments and supplement heated debates.

Professional footballers are even jumping on the banter bandwagon; Cesc Fabregas recently took time out of his busy schedule to taunt Jack Wilshere, via a ‘tweet’, at his lack of courage in going to ask Lionel Messi for his shirt after the Arsenal-Barcelona game.

Following in his team-mate’s footsteps, Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szcz?sny valiantly apologised to fans who had regrettably placed him in their fantasy football teams after his dismal performance against Newcastle, as he managed to concede four goals and help himself to a yellow card. (A month later, and I’ve only just forgiven him).

Football-filled conversations are everywhere. School playgrounds are the scenes of immature yet passionate wit, while offices up and down the country possess a repartee stand-up comedians would be proud of.

FIFA on the Playstation 3 provides a competitive edge analogous to a Celtic-Rangers derby, while shock defeats in League Cup finals present ample opportunities to provoke disconsolate fans.

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Admittedly, some banter is rather lacklustre. Listening to Arsenal and Manchester United fans converse over the title challenge and impart what they believe to be ‘footballing knowledge’ upon the world, is like listening to your mother talk about what happened on her walk to the grocery store. Thanks, but no thanks.

Conversely, overhearing a conversation between lower league fans asserting their case for making the longest away trip or seeing the best goal down at their stadium which possesses an average attendance of just 3,000, is like watching Ashley Cole tied to a chair in a room of air rifles, mobile phones and young ladies. Keep it coming.

QPR fans are sitting on top of the banter tree (yes, there is such a thing) at the moment. Preston supporters were recently on the receiving end of a ‘we’re playing Liverpool, you’re playing Hartlepool’ chant, while followers of Ipswich and Leicester have experienced the heightened wit of a QPR fan revelling in taking three points from their team.

Where would we be without football banter? Sitting at home alone, silently fist pumping the air in front of the TV, I guess.