The Art of Heckling the Goalkeeper


As anyone who has ever sat in outfield bleachers at a baseball game knows, sometimes you have to invent ways to entertain yourself during sporting events.  Your seats are so far from the plate that long stretches of the game can pass without any game action happening in front of you.  So naturally, people begin heckling the outfielders to pass the time.  The soccer equivalent of this is sitting in field-level seats behind the goal.  Sure, you have an excellent chance of taking a ball to the face anytime the action is on your end of the field, but when the play shifts to the far side of the field, you are left with few entertainment options besides heckling the keeper.

One unique aspect of soccer compared to other team sports is that groups of hardcore fans called supporters groups work with the front offices of teams to secure specific sections of the stadium to sit in for every home game.  At FC Dallas matches, The Inferno always sits in sections 120 and 121 in the southeast corner of the stadium.  Red Shamrock sets up camp in section 101 and Dallas Football Elite make their home in section 103.  Then there’s the Dallas Beer Guardians.

DBG is one of the newer supporters groups and has quickly grown to be one of the most popular.  They have a special set of bleachers that are actually at field level just behind the north-end goal.  The large, open area that is the stage for concerts gets converted to the Budweiser Beer Garden for FCD matches.  You read correctly, it is an entire garden whose purpose is the pouring, delivery and consumption of beer (AKA heckle juice).  So as one can imagine, the proximity to both the goalie and the beer leads to some masterful heckling.

At FC Dallas’ match against Seattle Sounders this past Wednesday, the Toros were missing several key players due to injury and red card suspension.  The game was 0-0 at the half, but Seattle subbed in their star striker, Fredy Montero, to start the second half and immediately began dominating the run of play.  With Seattle attacking towards Dallas’ goal in the south-end (and eventually getting two goals), the Dallas Beer Guardians had little choice but to begin a one-way, highly-insulting conversation with the Sounders’ keeper, Bryan Meredith.

The Younger Brother

One of the more popular methods of heckling was to yell out the keeper’s last name in a very sing-songy, “MEEEEEEEEEEREDIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITH!!!!!!”  The obvious benefit of this method is that it is fantastically annoying and it is also very easy for other fans to quickly join in and amplify the cacophany.  And just like any proper younger brother who’ll say the same joke forty-seven times in a row (because knock-knock jokes get exponentially funnier every time you say them), sustained repetition is the key to making this heckling technique particularly effective.

Monkey-fighting Snakes on a Monkey-fighting Plane

The all-time classic.  If you don’t have anything nice to say, then you are in the right place.  Every single one of Carlin’s seven words and ones you hadn’t even heard of before can be hurled at the hapless goalie.  There are definitely points for creativity here: combine your favorite words at will, use curses from another language, throw in random nouns to form compound words.  Whatever your bleeping heart desires.  The following are a few examples in true dubbed-for-tv form:

“Go fight yourself, Meredith!”    “Eat shishkabab and slurpee my cookies!”  “You fantastic cutlery!”

A Tribute to Bill Hicks

While there is no denying the effectiveness of The Younger Brother or the verbal bludgeoning that can be delivered with monkey-fighting colloquial language, the truly discerning fan will go for the very difficult to achieve Bill Hicks Tribute (if you don’t know who he is, go here. You’re welcome and be aware that language is NSFW).  This is heckling that not only berates the target at hand but also tries to entertain the crowd by saying something clever, yet insulting.  The thinking man’s heckle, if you will.  The key here, just like in a comedy act, is timing.  You have to wait until there is a quieter moment in the game and then go for it.  Be loud, enunciate and nail the delivery of a gem like, “HEY MEREDITH, I BET YOU PEE SITTING DOWN!!!!”

The ultimate prize is to get to the goalie enough that he starts yapping back at you.  This means he’s paying more attention to coming back at you than he is to manning his penalty area.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important service the fan can provide?  Just that little bit of motivation for the home team or distraction for the road team can make the difference in the result of the game.  This is what gives teams their home-field advantage.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go Dallas’ way on Wednesday night as Seattle won the game 2-0.  But the goalie hecklers did their part and will be back at it again next Saturday, May 19 against the Philadelphia Union.

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