Australians have a long history of using nick names for their sports stars and national identities.
Many of these are exercises in irony e.g. ‘Blue’ for a redhead and ‘Curly’ for someone who is a bit short of hair.
Then there’s the obvious nicknames like ‘Davo’ for Alan Davidson and ‘Thommo’ for Jeff Thomson. Nothing subtle there but very effective. Most are used with affection, some not so much, particularly for opposition players.
Rugby League has had its fair share of clever and memorable nicknames. Some of my favourites from the past are:
Chief – Paul Harrogan, named after the big, silent American Indian character in the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Poppa – Brian Clay, who was bald at an early age. ET – Andrew Ettingshausen, based on the extra-terrestrial alien character in the movie ET. Brandy – Greg Alexander, named after the cocktail, Brandy Alexander. Baa – Terry Lamb, I don’t need to explain! Chariots – Martin Offiah, a play on the name of the movie Chariots of Fire.
Other sports also have had some great nicknames: Nobody – union hero John Eales, as in “nobody’s perfect”. The Chiropractor – All Black centre Brian Lima, who was a devastating defender. The Cat – English cricketer Phil Tufnell named for his love of sleeping rather than any prowess as a fieldsman or with the bat.
And my personal favourite: Bernie. Rugby union five eighth Stephen Larkham, a fairly quiet chap who was likened to the dead body in the movie Weekend at Bernie’s.
Nicknames are good fun (as long as no one gets hurt) and they help us identify with the sports star. Unfortunately they appear to be less popular these days.
When I look through the team lists today, I don’t see as many players with established nicknames as we saw in the past.
Of course there’s The Fox (Josh Addo-Carr), Teddy (James Tedesco), The King (Clint Gutherson), The Don (Anthony Don) and some others, but there’s not many and nothing too clever.
I could suggest a few:
Jaws – Kevin Proctor Road Map – Josh Dugan, for his tattoos. Smell – Kalyn Ponga
But surely there’s more!
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What are your favourite player’s nicknames, and can you suggest a few for the players in the team that you support?