Tuesday April 20, 2004; the day football lingo ceased to evolve.

Sure there were pretenders to Ron’s crown; Lawro picked around the edges of the Ronglish lexicon like a dandy magpie; helping himself to an “easy oasy” here and a “chocolate wrists” there.

For a few months, Martin Tyler took it upon himself to award spotter’s badges to the deliverer of any half-decent through ball – more sad, gentle tribute than theft. Sensing the void, Arsene Wenger did his bit by declaring “farciland” a republic.

But there were no true innovators. In Ron’s continued exile, football language was dead, ironically – all things considered – bereft of colour.

We didn’t count on a saviour.

The new kid on the block first grabbed our attention with a bold early bid for noun-free living. “‘E’s \’aving a torrid.” This was cheeky. As if throwing Ron’s ingenious recasting of verbs like “arrive” into nouns back in his face. This kid had balls.

But wary of show-boaters who invariably became one-trick-ponies (We’re looking at you, Kammy) we bided our time. Could this lad produce more?

Now we think he has. Sure this fledgling language is clumsy at times, occasionally brutal. Compared to the lyrical precision of Ronglish, much of the imagery relies heavily on a fish’s inability to deal adequately with relocation to a tree.

But buried deep within rather crude constructs lie some rare gems of true wisdom. Rare, we said. But bear with it. For Modern Merse is all we have now. We’ll start with the basics.

***

A Torrid

Booze, bookies, charlie, nouns. Now all off the Merse menu. Having been relieved of so many of his favourite pastimes, you might think time is something Merse has plenty of. Nevertheless, this is the labour-saving device that keeps on giving.

“‘E is an automatic, Jeff.”

“‘E’s having some medical on, Jeff.”

“Between the Premier League and the Championship, it’s a massive, Jeff.”

Merse might say: “Very much Jeff, I mean, he never played Jeff, I mean he never. I mean he’s come out and \’ad an absolute torrid.”

Mrs Merse might say: “Cor Merse, hope you’ve got a nixer on the Big Cup this week. Only I’ve gone into New Look and they were \’aving a Winter, innit.”

***

Worldy

The time management skills that saw Merse pen a diary for Rock Bottom while recovering at Marchwood Priory again spring to the fore here.

“World-class” is a term bandied about rather too often in football today. In an unspoken defiance of the increasing hype that rewards players not fit to lace his own cocktails, Merse has cleverly produced the term “worldy” to describe exceptional performances.

Economical sure, but also stressing that these one-off displays of heroism are not necessarily any guarantee of ongoing competence.

Merse might say: “I ain’t joking Jeff, I mean, Rooney’s hit that, I mean he \’as, but Almunia \’as pulled off an absolute worldy.”

Mrs Merse might say: “OOh Merse, will that nice John Salako be in today. That little fella is an absolute worldy.”

***

Threes and fours

In an oversight not even rectified upon the hiring of Dean Windass, none of Sky’s pundits are supplied with an abacus.

No great respecter of numbers anyway, this allows Merse a somewhat vague approach to the complicated business many refer to as counting.

Merse might say: “For me Jeff, I mean, for me, if they get another one now, it could be anything, I mean it could literally be threes and fours.”

Mrs Merse might say: “Bloomin eck, Merse. I’ve been through labour twice now and it aint pretty innit? If we’re not careful, it’ll be threes and fours.”

***

Next week on Modern Merse:

Beans and toast
Come what may
Fish up a tree.

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