What’s in a name?

Political correctness is a movement to promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance. I’m sure it is a valid movement as far smarter people than I have implemented it, advocated it, and supported it.

To me though, it is un-Australian, at least in some part.

The “Aussie” persona has been built on the knockabout, “she’ll be right mate” larrikin. We’ve built a nation on irreverence, and a healthy distrust of the establishment. With an honest and uncomplicated view of the world, Aussies prefer to be straight to the point. And renowned for our playful nature, Aussies enjoy exchanging jibes and witticisms.

Being straight to the point (in other words, being “honest”), and exchanging jibes, sometimes challenges the notion of political correctness. Nowadays, you can only be “honest” if it makes the recipient feel good. You can’t be honest if it makes them feel bad. The same goes for witticisms and jibes.

In such an environment, I fear for the footy club “culture”, or at least the one that I knew.

I was a black kid growing up a small Victorian country town. I copped a bit, and gave a bit. I made great mates, and there were bullies. I never felt I really belonged though until at 16, I started playing footy with the local footy club.

At the footy club, blokes were to-the-point. There was no time or reason to be anything but. It’s also likely that the limited vocabulary possessed by many of them played a part.  And jibes flew all over the place. You could tell the difference between the good natured ones and the ones that were not. You needed a thick skin, and you needed to engage, at least in spirit if not in body.

And then there were the witticisms and amusing general observations. There were some very funny blokes. Sometimes, these witticisms and observations resulted in nicknames which stuck.

If there’s one thing that is Australian, it is the use of nicknames. There are the obvious ones like “Macca”, “Johnno”, and “Harmsy”.

And then there are the clever, witty, obscure ones. Here are some from my time in footy, though the background to a few probably require an M rating.

  • Puffy. Derived from “puff pastry”. As a 16 year old, he had a girlfriend 2 or three years younger than himself. The assertion was she was pre-pubescent.
  • Toady. Went missing one night with a less than desirable girl. When his mates saw him the next morning, they said he must have gone down on her because his breath smelt like a toad.
  • Donkey Balls aka Sack. Self explanatory.
  • Johnny Holmes. At a footy club disco, one bloke spent much of the time lip locked with a girl sitting on his lap. It was said she looked like she was sitting on top of a flagpole.
  • Silver. A very assertive father demanded his 18 year old son be given the first ruck position in the senior side. The coach must have said something because the father stormed off with the son in toe. Someone said, “There goes daddy with Golden Boy”, just as little brother (16-year old) left the ground to join them. “And there goes Silver,” someone said.

At Geelong, Joel Corey is nicknamed “Smithy” because he didn’t have a surname. Using that logic, what would Dawson Simpson’s nickname be?

What’s in a name? You tell me.



  1. Dave Nadel says:

    A friend of mine in the early seventies stood up a really nice girl that all his mates liked to spend the evening with a “sure thing.” He went round to her place for dinner at seven and was home by eleven. For the next to years we called him “the Wombat.” Dictionary definition – A Wombat is an Australian animal that eats roots and leaves.

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