Going Offside: 6 Fun Facts you didn’t know about Football and the Premier League
Think you’re well-versed in football and the Premier League? How many of these six trivia bits do you know?
One ball. Twenty-two players. Ninety minutes. And billions of fans from around the world.
Now, you’d think they’d have come up with a spicier name for such a beloved sport, but apparently, it seems the best they could do was “football”, and the name stuck.
Lack of imagination aside, despite how so many people enjoy watching football the world over, there are a surprising number of lesser-known trivia and game rules that might have slipped past even the most dedicated of football fans. Today, let’s take a look at a handful of these – how many do you already know?
1. The studs on the bottom of football boots are called cleats
Well, we did say there would be some terribly random trivia on this list. So, the more you know.
While many folks might be comfortable just calling them “studs”, which is perfectly fine, the actual term for those protrusions on the bottom of your flashy new football boots is “cleats”.
With how much the sport (as we know it) relies on individual footwork and manoeuvrability in addition to team coordination, there’s no denying that having proper traction, especially on grass is key. Otherwise, you’d probably see players slipping and sliding around like ice skaters during Premier League matches.
Yes, we understand knowing the proper terms for things hardly matters when you or your favourite players are racing across the pitch, if at all, but at the very least, you’ll have one more random fact in your arsenal for trivia night.
2. A goalie can only hold the ball for a maximum of six seconds
While it would be pretty hilarious to see the goalie run from one end of the field to the other clutching the ball during Premier League matches (or any football match, really), a free kick will be awarded to the opposing team if they hold it for more than six seconds.
Although it’s quite self-explanatory, this rule was implemented to prevent goalies from stalling the game (either deliberately or accidentally), in the same way tennis players are only allowed a 25-second limit to administer a serve attempt (as of the 2012 ruling).
Also, for what it’s worth, the sport is called football, people.
3. On a goal kick, the ball doesn’t have to leave the 18-yard box to be considered “in play”
When most of us think about goal kicks, we generally imagine the goalie lobbing the ball towards the middle of the pitch.
However, did you know that if the goalie has placed the ball down and moved it, plays in the 18-yard box are just as valid as any other? Case in point, if the goalie were to mistime his kick such that it harmlessly rolls forward within the 18-yard box, it’s already fair game for an enemy attacker to swoop in as long as he isn’t offside.
Of course, we don’t see the pros blunder to such a degree in the Premier League – that is why they’re pros, after all. Speaking of 18-yard boxes, distance is hardly a problem for today’s fans – what we’re concerned about is catching all of the action as it unfolds live, and let’s just say we have ways to do that from a lot further than 18 yards away.
4. The English Premier League isn’t the tournament’s original name
Most fans, especially younger ones might know the annual tournament as the English Premier League, but not by its original name – the Barclays Premier League.
Don’t worry – this first name was easily derived. When it first came into being in the 1990s, one of the tournament’s biggest financial backers was Barclays Bank. As a nod to their (Barclays’) confidence and contribution during what was a particularly depressing time for the English football scene, the tournament was named after them.
This BPL title would then stick around for quite a while – specifically, just under three decades till it was rebranded during the 2016-2017 competitive season. Today, its full legal name is The Football Association Premier League Limited, but since that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, most folks know it (albeit informally) as the English Premier League.
5. You can’t score directly from a throw-in
Breaking away from the historical trivia and going back to game rules, this one is as stated. Up front, the nomenclature of the game already says that you’re supposed to play and score with your feet, though for whatever reason, your head qualifies as a valid appendage too. Go figure.
Anyway, what this rule basically means is that you can’t, for lack of better phrasing, throw the ball from the side lines right into the goal without it touching a single player. If, however, you throw the ball and it contacts someone before entering the goal, then the point will be awarded to the respective team as usual.
Of course, this doesn’t mean players are encouraged to aim for ricochets off other players’ heads – we’d like to clarify that Pong is an entirely different game altogether.
6. The first live football game was aired on TV in 1937 in Highbury, London
Yes, that Highbury – the location more formally known as Arsenal Stadium.
Although people have enjoyed playing football for a pretty long time, the technology we needed to watch matches remotely has only come about within the past century. Even so, 1937 is a lot further back than most people might have placed that estimate.
To provide a frame of reference, this means mankind had already developed a way of watching football matches live two years before World War II was even a thing. Going back to the above, the exhibition match was aired at Arsenal Stadium in 1937 by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), where the main Arsenal team faced off against the Arsenal Football Club Academy team.
Sure enough, this nationally televised match was an extremely impressive milestone for the time, but for us, it would probably just be “Saturday”. Gone are the days when we had to troop to specific places to catch live EPL telecasts and highlights – in fact, we’re not even limited to just our TVs now.
What a world we live in.