Embracing Diversity: Decoding Football Commentaries with an Inclusive Twist 

Intro music + Introduction:

0 - 3:30

Stephen McHugh: Hi there, and welcome to the Stephen’s Evolution podcast! I'm Stephen McHugh, your host. I’m on the autistic spectrum, and I make fortnight episodes based on my lived experiences, with the aim of inspiring hope in others who may be on similar paths. This particular episode is a linguistic thrill ride. Together we’re going to be plunging into the dynamic realm of football commentary, but with a unique twist—we're placing my imaginary matches against the atmospheric backdrop of Halloween and Bonfire Night.

Fasten your seatbelts, because my goal here is to unravel the language that might be used by commentators during these themed matches, and sometimes in real life too. Whether it's October 31st, November 5th, or a warm summer’s day, the language I’m going to explore in this episode has the aim of adding an extra layer of excitement to any match.

Now, for my listeners on the autism spectrum, I’m going to create a commentary experience that's both vivid and accessible. Get ready to join me as we aim to uncover together the following commentary gems of these imaginary games!

But, before we dive in, I want to invite all of you to become active participants. When I present you with each individual commentary from the imaginary matches, I encourage you to take a moment to work out the language used in each case. You can pause after hearing each individual commentary, and continue when you think you’ve worked it out. Think of it as a linguistic puzzle!

After each imaginary commentary, we'll unravel the mysteries together, and explore the nuances of the language. And while I’ve aimed to keep it light and fun, some words and phrases associated with these themes might be considered spooky or evoke a sense of excitement or fear. If you have sensitivities to such themes or language, we encourage you to take that into consideration before continuing to listen. My goal is to make your listening experience enjoyable, so feel free to skip this episode if you feel the content might not be a good fit for you.

Are you ready now? Let's kick off this linguistic adventure.

Halloween and Bonfire Night: 3:32 - 5:49

The first commentary is to do with both Halloween and Bonfire Night. Here it is.

Well, it's Halloween tonight, and only a number of days from now, Bonfire night. Will there be any fireworks? Well, look at the featured games tonight. Anticipate some exciting and action-packed games. Will there be plenty of tricks on show? Will any match provide us with any treats?

I invite you to now hit the pause button, and to take a moment to reflect on the language we've explored, and let the language game unfold in your mind. And when you're ready, hit play, and let's continue our imaginative football journey!


In our imaginary matches here, we're talking about imaginary games happening around Halloween and Bonfire Night. Here, when we mention fireworks, we're not talking about the real ones in the sky. Instead, think of it like the games lighting up with exciting plays and action, just like the pretty colours in the sky.

Now, tricks in the game aren't sneaky plans; they're actually skillful moves by players and teams, making the game look interesting. And treats? Well, we're not talking about candies, sweets and chocolates here. Treats are the games that get us excited, like a favourite treat that can make us happy.

Now that we've explored the language nuances inspired by the spookiness of Halloween and the crackling magic of Bonfire Night, it's time to shift our focus to the field. Let's seamlessly transition from the spectral atmosphere of our themed matches, and unravel the linguistic mysteries surrounding a goal scored in a truly ghostly manner.

After a Goal in a Ghostly Manner: 5:52 - 8:47

The second section here is titled after a goal in a ghostly manner.

See the way he ghosted in at the far post. No player seemed to even notice him. A spooktacular move leading to a goal that is sure to send shivers down the opposition's spine, and the spines of the supporters too!

For the goal scored in a ghostly manner in this case, I invite you to press pause, allowing the eerie brilliance of this moment to linger in your mind. When you're prepared to resume, hit play, and let's continue our spectral football journey! "

"Now, after having a chance to absorb the ghostly spectacle, did the phrases conjure excitement or perhaps pose a cryptic challenge? Let’s prepare to delve into the explanation together.


When we say 'ghosted in at the far post,' we don’t talk about real ghosts. It means the player moved quietly and unnoticed, kind of like a character in a story who can move around without being seen.

In the case of, 'spooktacular' it might sound like 'spectacular,' and that's because it is! It's just a fun way to say something really amazing. So, in this case, a 'spooktacular move' is like a super cool and impressive display. Note how both begin with the letters s and p, and spect is replaced by ‘spook’.

And when we talk about 'shivers down the opposition's spine,' we're not talking about real shivers. What this means is the other team is a bit scared or nervous because of how well the player is doing. In the case of the crowd, it can refer to them getting excited, like everyone cheering for a great play.

As we linger in the ghostly echoes of that goal, the enchantment doesn't end there. Stay with me as we seamlessly glide from the otherworldly atmosphere to the heart of the action. What we're now calling is for magic in a tightly contested match. The thrill intensifies, and I invite you to join me in unravelling the enchanting language woven into this spellbinding football tale. Ready? Let's continue to explore more exciting and impressive moments in our imaginary matches!

Calling for Magic in a Tightly Contested Match: 8:50 - 11:49

Well, little action to speak of so far. It just needs someone to produce a bit of magic. But wait, before we go, look who's coming on; he's got a wand of a right foot. Maybe just the spark the game needs. He’s like a wizard on the pitch weaving spells of his own with exceptional skill, a pass, or a piece of play.

As the match intensifies, and we call for magic in this tightly contested game, I now encourage you to now hit pause. Let the anticipation of magic settle in your mind.

Ready to break the spell? Right then, let's resume our enchanting football journey! Did the phrases spark excitement or weave a bit of mystery into the match for you? Let’s unravel together the secrets of the language of this particular commentary.


When we say 'produce a bit of magic,' we're not talking about real magic. It just simply means, we're hoping for something really special to happen on the field, like an amazing bit of skill, a clever pass, or a great piece play. It's like a player doing something extraordinary.

Now, when we mention 'wand of a right foot,' we're not talking about a real wand. It's just a way to say that a player has a skillful right foot, like a wizard might have a special tool. It's about their exceptional skill and ability to make things happen in the game.

And when we say something like 'just the spark the game needs,' we're not talking about a real spark. It just means we want something to happen that makes the game more entertaining. It's like the moment when a boring game suddenly becomes full of energy and action.

As the call for magic echoes on the field, we transition to a moment of reflection. Join me as we continue to move on from the intensity of a tightly contested match to the aftermath—a chance for the players to reflect on a better performance. The magic lingers, and I invite you to stay with me as we unravel together the language intricacies behind this pivotal shift in our imaginary football journey. Ready? Let's continue to explore the enchanting narrative, from calling for magic to reflecting on a better performance from last time out!

Reflecting on a Better Performance: 11:52 - 14:07

A much better performance today after the horror show of last week. They've dusted off the cobwebs and are back with a vengeance!

As we reflect on a better performance, consider hitting pause to savour the improvement. Let the echoes of this positive shift resonate in your mind. And when you're ready, hit play, and let's resume our journey into excellence on the football field!

Now, having reflected on the improved performance, did the phrases illuminate the positive changes or present a reflective challenge? Let’s prepare to dissect the finer details together.


When we say 'horror show,' we're not talking about a scary movie here. It means the team didn't play well last time out.

Now, in the case of 'dusting off the cobwebs' it doesn't mean cleaning actual cobwebs. It's more like getting rid of the things that made them not play so well. It's about making things look nicer and getting ready to do better. They're back with a vengeance, meaning they're ready to show everyone how good they can really be.

As we delve into the reflections of a better performance, the narrative takes an exciting turn. Brace yourself as we move from introspection to the anticipation of a thrilling spectacle. The stage is set for a game that promises to be nothing short of a thriller. Stay tuned as we seamlessly transition from reflecting on a better performance to experiencing the exhilaration of a game that keeps us on the edge of our seats. Are you ready? Let's continue our journey through the linguistic landscape of our imaginary matches!

A Thriller of a Game: 14:10 - 16:30

It's turning into a thriller of a game here tonight. High-scoring and tightly contested, every moment keeping us on the edge of our seats. The excitement is really palpable!

As the game transforms into a thrilling spectacle, I invite you to press pause. Let the excitement linger in your thoughts like the suspenseful climax of a captivating story.

Now, having experienced the thrill, I'm curious. Did the phrases amplify the excitement or perhaps introduce a twist in the narrative for you? Let's explore the thrilling moments together.


When we say 'thriller of a game,' we're not talking about a scary story. It’s another way of emphasising how the game is really exciting and entertaining, like a movie that keeps you watching and waiting to see what happens next. It's like every moment in the game is full of surprises and keeps us on the edge of our seats.

And when we talk about 'high-scoring and tightly contested,' we're not talking about a real score or a tight grip. It can mean there are a lot of goals, and both teams are playing really well, a high tempo game, making it a close and competitive contest. Every play is important.

As the game unfolds into a thrilling spectacle, our attention is drawn to one player who ignites the field with unparalleled brilliance. From the suspense of a thriller, we seamlessly transition to the awe-inspiring display of skill that sets the pitch ablaze. Stay with me as we move from the collective excitement of a thrilling game to the spotlight on one player who is on fire. Ready? Let's continue our exploration of the linguistic wonders in our imaginary matches!

One Player on Fire: 16:33 - 18:58

Well, I have to say, he's on fire at the moment, every defender's nightmare. A performance sure to send shivers up spines. This player is setting the pitch ablaze with their outstanding skills!

As we witness one player setting the pitch ablaze, consider hitting pause to let the brilliance sink in. And when you're ready, hit play to resume the footballing journey.

Now, with the player on fire etched in your mind, I'm intrigued. Did the phrases evoke excitement or present a blazing challenge? Let’s prepare to dissect the details together.


When we say 'He's on fire at the moment,' we're not talking about real fire. It means the player is doing really, really well and is difficult to stop. It's like trying to stop something that's really hot and unstoppable.

And when we mention 'every defender's nightmare,' we're not talking about scary dreams. It means a player is really tough for defenders to play against. They give defenders a hard time, making it difficult to stop them.

And now, 'setting the pitch ablaze' doesn't mean real fire on the field. It's just a way of saying the player is doing an outstanding job, and making the whole field come alive with their excellent skills.

As we bask in the glow of one player's extraordinary performance, the spotlight narrows to capture a pivotal moment. Brace yourself as we seamlessly transition from the scorching brilliance of a player on fire to the exhilarating scene of unleashing an unstoppable shot. The intensity builds, and I invite you to join me in decoding the language behind this remarkable play. Are you ready? Let's continue our journey of exploration of the linguistic wonders in our imaginary football matches.

Unleashing an Unstoppable Shot: 19:01 - 21: 12

Well back to the tightly contested game lacking spark, one player produces some skill to create space before unleashing an unstoppable shot. It was an absolute screamer. Where did it come from? The silence has been shattered by the roar of the crowd!

Here, as we witness the magic of an unstoppable shot, I encourage you to hit pause. Let the anticipation of this powerful moment resonate in your mind. And when you're ready to break the spell, hit play, and let's resume our enchanting football journey!

Now, having witnessed the unstoppable shot, I'm curious. Did the phrases spark excitement or weave a bit of mystery into the match for you? Let’s uncover the secrets together.


When we say 'lacking spark,' we're not talking about real fire or energy. It can refer to a game needing something exciting to happen. A spark is like a burst of energy, and here, it can refer to players doing skillful moves to bring games to life.

Now, a 'screamer' doesn't mean someone yelling. It's a way to describe a powerful shot from a distance. In scientific terms, a scream is a high-pitched sound caused by something moving really fast. So, a 'screamer' in football is a shot that travels fast and is very hard to stop.

And when we talk about 'the silence has been shattered by the roar of the crowd,' we're not talking about real silence or real roars. What it means is after the incredible shot, the quietness in the stadium was suddenly broken by the loud cheering of the crowd in reaction to the goal scored.

Conclusion + Outro (including music at the end) 21:15 - End

As we wrap up our exploration of the language in these imaginary football matches, I invite you all to reflect on the phrases we've unravelled together. Could you understand the language used? Did you encounter any challenges? What strategies did you employ to try and make sense of it all?

For those who support individuals on the autistic spectrum, your insights can be invaluable. What methods do you use to help with understanding? I'd love to hear your thoughts and insights.

And before the end of this episode, I’m going to tell you a bit about Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, for any listeners not from the UK. This dates back to November 5th, 1605, a date on which a famous event referred to as the Gunpowder Plot is believed to have taken place. Guy Fawkes was said to have been caught underneath the Houses of Parliament in London where the gunpowder was stored.

To commemorate the thwarting of this plot, people across the UK celebrate Bonfire Night on November 5th every year. They can be seen attending organised displays and bonfires, some of them even involving the burning of effigies, even including some of Guy Fawkes himself. And there are those who prefer to have their own smaller and simpler bonfires and fireworks displays from their own back gardens. It's a unique blend of history, tradition, and a touch of mischief, creating a memorable spectacle right across the country.

Remember, language is a vibrant playground, much like the diverse traditions we explore. Every word holds a world of meaning. Your feedback and reflections can be crucial, so don't hesitate to share your experiences with me. You can find me on Twitter and at my contact form on my website stephensevolution.com, where there are links to my social media channels at the footer.

And if you’ve liked this, or any other episodes, why take the time to rate, review this podcast, and even share it. By doing this, I believe it could help me to reach out and inspire hope in other people out there.

Stay tuned for more linguistic adventures on the Stephen’s Evolution podcast. Until next time, goodbye for now, keep the language game alive, and as always, happy listening!
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