What does "caned" mean in football (soccer) context?

60 min GOAL! Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City (Balotelli)

Outstanding work from City! Silva looks to be pinned down in the area, but releases James Milner with a sumptuous back-heel. Milner whips the ball across the face of goal, and Balotelli has the simplest of finishes at the back post! This is getting slightly surreal, no? United are getting caned. Not by Chelsea, not by Liverpool, not by Arsenal, but by Manchester City. The team of Richard Edghill and Ian Brightwell. Baffling.

  • To get caned is primarily British slang for being thrashed, trounced, hammered, badly beaten (figurative, meaning lose by a large margin, be roundly defeated). That's when it doesn't mean to get stinking drunk, obviously. Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


This is a figure of speech. United were getting a humiliating defeat. In Britain a long time ago, schoolboys could be beaten with a cane (a narrow, whippy stick) on the bottom (they got caned) as a punishment which was both painful and humiliating. It is illegal now. In the US the stick was called a 'switch'. I believe it still persists in at least one former British colony as a judicial punishment.

  • Nasty boarding school punishment practices persisted for longer in the UK than in the US. It seems like boys were still being caned well into the 20th c. All that sadism perpetrated on younger boys by older ones was also pretty spooky....
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 15:42
  • At my day public school, (Alleyn's) in the 1960s, only the Head could cane, and it was very rare. Ordinary teachers could use one stroke of 'the slipper', (a gym shoe). Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 16:01
  • Check out Anthony Chenevix-Trench, Headmaster of Eton in the 50s and 60s, often quoted approvingly by my father's Daily Express, and nicknamed 'the flogger'. Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 16:11
  • Must have been his name, goodness me. :) I always have found the "ear" thing 'orrible.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 16:16
  • When I was at school in the 1980s the practice had been abolished for some time, but they kept the old cane hanging on the wall behind the head's desk to try and intimidate anyone that was sent there. As the Smiths sang, "Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools / spineless swines, cemented minds".
    – Astralbee
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 10:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .