With football’s world cup kicking off this month re-runs of previous competitions have been on our televisions for the last few weeks. Of course the most popular clip has been a certain day in 1966 when the host nation proved victorious.
Much as I enjoyed seeing this particular moment again, it was the terminology which intrigued me. To this day Geoff Hurst is still the only man to have scored a hat-trick in the final. What I was wondering was where this term for three goals scored by one player in a match (it is also used in cricket, rugby and other sports).
Hat-trick began as a cricketing term and first seen in print in 1879. The player, always the bowler, having taking three wickets with three consecutive legal deliveries is awarded a cap to mark the achievement. It was another thirty years before association football saw the first use of this terminology.
Brace is another on the subject of more than one goal in a match. Here the player scores two goals. Again the term has been borrowed from elsewhere and was first used, not for the two animals caught by the hunt but, for the brace or pair of dogs and was in use by around 1400.
Dribble used in the sense ‘to move erratically’ it began as a variation on the verb ‘to drip’ and first used in association football in 1863.
Underdog is not seen until 1887 when it was first used as a comparative for the term ‘top dog’, already in use to refer to a dominant individual.