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Put some sauce on THAT meatball!

July 11, 2019

Earlier this week I took the kids to Wimbledon, and we were lucky enough to get in to see a goodly portion of the men’s singles match between Sam Querry and Tennys Sandgren. Sitting behind us in the crowd was an American guy who was supporting Sandgren both vociferously and eccentrically. In fact his comments were more entertaining than the match itself. But they didn’t detract from the match. They added to it. I’d like to thank him, that guy who travelled all the way from New York to enrich the whole experience for everyone. What I’d like to know is whether he was using exhortations well-known to American sports fans or whether he was making them up as he went along. I strongly suspect the latter. Here are some examples:

(After Sangdren had hit a winner) “That’s some spicy Nando’s chicken!”

(After Sandgren had hit a winning return off Querry’s serve) “Oh, Lord of the Rings! Return of the King, man!”

(After a Sandgren dropshot) “Oh, that’s cheeky, Sandgren, real cheeky!”

(After a blistering backhand down the line) ‘Put some sauce on that meatball!”

(Whenever Sandgren lost a rally but had tried really hard) “Nice hustle, Sandgren! Nice hustle!”

(At random intervals) “Oh, that’s nice tennis, Tennys! It’s in the name!”

(When it looked like Sandgren was certain to lose) ‘Keep on dreamin’, Sandman!”

Sport spectatorship is a rich source of folk wit and wisdom. After the match my kids and I gleefully quoted these phrases at each other for the rest of the afternoon. I’d be interested to know if anyone out there has any favourite banter or commentary they’ve heard at sporting events.


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  1. Holly permalink

    As an American, I can honestly say I’ve never heard any of these phrases. In baseball and softball (which I’ve played) I’ve heard “good eye, Holly, good eye” for not swinging my bat at a ball that wasn’t going to go directly over the plate. I’ve heard “let’s hustle guys” and “eyes on the game/ball people” but these were mostly from our coaches. From the sidelines, we heard cheers such as “you got this Holly” or “c’mon Holly, you can hit this one” or even little chants like “we want a single just a little single s-i-n! g-l-e! Single single single!” And on to double, triple, and homer. At American football (what should be called tackleball because that’s mostly what it is) games I’ve heard annoying ululations from mothers of athletes. I was in the marching band so we always had banter going back and forth between us and the cheerleaders. It was fun. I’ve played soccer/real football exactly once. I never liked it much until I became an Arsenal FC fan. I miss Rosicky and Mertesacker. Sanchez was a complete disappointment after Arsene Wenger left. But anyway, I never much cared for tennis. I like badminton. I’m good at it. Why don’t they have badminton matches at Wimbledon? I’m just kidding. I have tremendous respect for people who can play tennis. Especially Venus and Serena Williams since they’re women that I would have been able to look up to as a kid being born a person of color. But yeah, that guy was definitely making it up as he went along. Most likely to impress the British people around him. We don’t have any Nando’s chicken here to my knowledge. We have Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chik-Fil-A.
    By far the worst “cheer” I ever heard was a guy forcefully yelling “play Yesterday!” behind me at a Paul McCartney concert in Boston, Massachusetts in 2005. How rude!

    • Thanks very much for this, Holly. I like the examples of calls and chants of encouragement from coaches and spectators. I am sure you are right that the American guy at Wimbledon was doing it to impress the British crowd. He could see we were enjoying it and that stimulated him to further efforts! Wonder if he’ll be in the crowd cheering Serena on in the final on Saturday…

  2. Simon Carter permalink

    A football match at Charlton when Gavin Peacock was playing (his dad Keith played for Charlton for 20 odd years and was the first substitute used in league football).
    A voice rang out.
    “Peacock! You ain’t as good as your old man”.
    Another voice.
    “He ain’t as good as MY old man”.

  3. Avi Chaudhuri permalink

    There was a chap who used to sit behind me at White Hart Lane who used to come out with a few gems.
    When Spurs scored an early goal: “Come on Tottenham, hold out!”
    When a Spurs player had been insufficiently robust in the tackle: “Get som blood on yer boots!”
    When Spurs got an undeserved goal he would shout at the away fan : “Never been robbed?”

  4. Nice. As a Spurs fan I sympathise with ‘hold out’!

  5. Peter Dann permalink

    May I venture a contribution that you may already know, Brandon, but deserves a world wide web audience? For some bizarre reason I found myself watching Watford vs Everton with our good friend Steve Cleary. We were sitting next to the Family Enclosure and were surprised when a large Dad stood up at some point and yelled at the top of his voice “Oi Ref, who pulled your chain?”. I have so often wished to do the same in the many years since, but never had the courage.

  6. Yep. Good one.

  7. Mark Brafield permalink

    Not sport but music; as mentioned previously, we went to hear Barbra Streisand in Hyde Park last week. Each song got the full shtick, chatty, with a lengthy, folksy introduction. Various celebrities were name-checked but for one number, with a catch in her throat, Barbra started to dedicate the song to ‘one very special man …who’s always been there for me…’ at which some very ordinary bloke behind me in the cheap seats half a mile from the stage shouted ‘I’m over here Barbra’.

    Less amusing was the tendency of too many people to sing along, badly, while she was singing. I was tempted, but was too polite, to say ‘I have paid a fortune and queued for hours in the blazing sun to hear Barbra sing, not you’. I was grateful that quite a few others was not so polite.

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