What does 'squeaky bum time' mean? Famous football phrase explained

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The football lexicon is filled with phrases that are not only hilarious but also intriguing enough to make a fan do some digging.

While former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was a genius for his on-field tactics, he was also a linguist par excellence. Often during his press conferences, he would drop examples of his linguistic ingenuity which would be lapped by the fans in no time.

The phrase "Fergie time" is already a part of sporting folklore which was coined due to United's habit of claiming late wins. Add "squeaky bum time" to the list.

Wondering what it means? GOAL has the details.

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Where did the phrase 'squeaky bum time' come from?

It is believed that Ferguson used the phrase 'squeaky bum time' for the first time in 2003 when his side were embroiled in a close battle for the Premier League title with Arsenal.

The Gunners were set to host Manchester United on April 16 at Highbury. However, three days before the match they visited Old Trafford for a FA Cup semifinal clash against Sheffield United.

It was almost the business end of the season and games were coming thick and fast. With the Red Devils already out of the tournament they got a couple of days more to recover and prepare for the epic league clash against Arsenal.

Ferguson was eyeing this match for a long time and almost three weeks before the trip to Highbury, and just preceding Arsenal's FA Cup quarter-final replay against Chelsea, he mentioned it in a press conference.

“They have a replay against Chelsea and if they win it they would face a semi-final three days before playing us in the league,” said Ferguson.

“But then they did say they were going to win the treble, didn’t they? It’s squeaky bum time and we’ve got the experience now to cope," he added.

Ferguson 2012Getty Images

What does 'squeaky bum time' mean?

In October 2022, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) added 15 football-themed phrases to the lexicon, including Ferguson’s phrase “squeaky bum time”.

According to OED, the term means: "British colloquial (originally and chiefly in sporting contexts) a particularly tense period of time, esp. one leading up to the climax of a competition or event.

"The term was coined by Sir Alex Ferguson, then manager of the Association Football club Manchester United, with reference to his team challenging for the title in the closing stages of the English Premier League.

"The phrase has been explained as a reference to the sound of someone shifting restlessly on plastic seating during tense closing stages of a contest."

More simply put, the phrase is used to describe a tense climax, especially in a sporting event.

In fact, late Irish golfer Christy O'Connor Jr. had also used this term in his 2012 autobiography 'From Rough to Fair Ways' when he was nervous about whether he would make the cut for the European Ryder Cup team.

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