Great players…Great nicknames

Where have all the great nicknames gone? In footy days gone by it was often the commentators and the supporters who bestowed the most evocative nicknames on the footballers we loved to watch. Microphone-men such as Lou (‘The Lip’) Richards had a penchant for tagging players with monikers that stuck and were as commonly used as their real names. Can you recall some of the great nicknames of VFL/AFL players? I have chosen nicknames that don’t use any part of the player’s real name. Do you remember them? Who would you add from the modern era?


B. The Rubber Man, The Tilt, Captain Blood

HB. The Flying Doormat, Mr. Football, The Ghost

C.  The Geelong Flyer, Diesel, The Dominator

HF. The Flying Dutchman, Sticks,  Superboot

F. Hungry, Plugger, The Macedonian Marvel

Foll. The Galloping Gasometer, Buddha, The Flea

Inter: Inspector Gadget, The Clown Prince, The Leyland Brothers

Coach: The Red Fox


Alternatively known as:

Gavin Wanganeen, Rod Carter, Jack Dyer

Bruce Doull, Ted Whitten, Jimmy Jess

Bob Davis, Greg Williams, Wayne Johnston

Paul Van der Haar, Stephen Kernahan, Bernie Quinlan

Kevin Bartlett, Tony Lockett , Peter Daicos

Mick Nolan, Gary Hocking, Dale Weightman

Dustin Fletcher, Mark Jackson, Ian and Bruce Nankervis

Norm Smith

About Peter Clark

is a lifetime Geelong supporter. Hailing from the Riverina, he is now entrenched on the NSW South Coast. His passion for footy was ignited by attending Ovens and Murray League matches in the 1960's with his father. After years of watching, playing and coaching, now it is time for some serious writing about his favourite subjects… footy, especially country footy, and cricket.


  1. And rick Davies “the jumbo prince ” Sturt and Hawthorn

    John platten ” the rat ” centrals and Hawthorn

    Michael Graham ” flash ” Sturt

    Fabulous Phil Carman Norwood and Collingwood

    Barrie Robran ” god ” north Adelaide

  2. Colin Ritchie says

    A few Bomber nicknames that quickly came to mind.
    The Kookaburra: Alec Epis Essendon
    Bluey: Ian Shelton Essendon
    Budgie: Tony Buhagier
    Bomber: Mark Thompson
    Nobby: Neil Clarke
    Froggy: Alwyn Davey
    Racehorse: Ken Fletcher
    Nifty: Neville Fields

  3. Let’s not forget Charles ‘Commotion’ Pearson, Essendon champion of the 1880s, and Norm ‘Hackenschmidt’ Clark, who played for North Adelaide and then Carlton in the early 1900s.

  4. Chicken Smallhorn. A Royboy and Brownlow medal winner. Both names together give it a wonderful farmlike warmth. Given to him by his family as a little lad as he was so small and birdlike. Stuck for life.

  5. Mike “Swamp Fox” Patterson. Richmond and North Adelaide.
    Dave “Grave Danger” Grainger. Port Adelaide lunatic knuckle man.
    Robbie “Mad Dog” Muir. Ditto. St Kilda, West Torrens, Woodville etc.

  6. Richard Jones says

    I LOVE the current No. 3 draft pick.
    BrisVegas Lions got him. McCluggage.
    Nicknamed ‘Bags” by his contemporaries. Mighta had it before, though.
    Dunno. But he’s got it now.

  7. Scott McIntyre says

    Ken Hunter’s son Cameron, who played 2 games for the Dees, was the skinniest bloke in football and wore blond tips in his hair, so of course he was nicknamed Joe Dirt. That’s a favourite of mine.

    Love Jimmy Bartel’s nickname of Nudge, apparently bestowed on him because he liked to roll up to his teammates’ houses and eat all their food.

    Mark Jamar was called The Russian because he looked like Drago from Rocky 4, but the nickname got such traction that a lot of people think he is actually of Russian extraction.

    The greatest football nickname of all, in my view, belongs to the former brilliant rugby league player Phil Sigsworth, who was known as Whatsapacketa.

  8. Dave Brown says

    Agree with Grave Danger above – the most apt spoonerism of all time. Of thus far unmentioned South Australians, also liked:
    Ralph “Zip Zap” Sewer
    Jim “Piano” Michalanney (very straight, white teeth)
    Wat “Whacker” Scott
    Craig “Pinchy pinch” Kelly (although he was known, more dully, as “Ned” in his time in SA)

  9. There’s been none better than ‘GOD’, the wispy haired, powerfully built number 5 for Geelong.

    He sits above all others.


  10. Bobby ‘The Chimp’ Skilton, Kevin ‘Bulldog’ Murray, ‘Bustling’ Billy Barrott RIP

  11. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Some rippers here Peter and a formidable team you have put together.
    Some of my faves:
    ‘Nuts’ Coventry
    ‘Leeter’ Collier
    ‘Lardie’ Tulloch
    ‘Mopsy’ Fraser
    ‘Skinny’ Titus
    Before he was BT Brain Taylor was known as ‘Barge’

  12. Richard Jones says

    And Phil Brain Taylor also known as ‘Bristle’ probably because of the now long out of date mo. Aka moustache
    Can’t you just hear Effie from that 90s show saying ‘moos-tarsh’

  13. Peter Clark says

    Some worthy additions. Yes, Chicken Smallhorn and Grave Danger are beauties.

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Very good Peter. None of these would make your team, but here they are anyway.

    Neil ‘Knuckles’ Kerley
    Ian ‘Elbows’ Aitken
    PT ‘Bo’ Morton
    Robin ‘Irish’ Mulholland
    Phil ‘Cracker’ Haughan
    David ‘Sally’ Saywell
    Peter ‘Jumbo Prince’ Darley (the original)
    Fred ‘Chocka’ Bloch
    Peter ‘Crackers’ Keenan
    Jake ‘The Package’ Stringer
    Cyril ‘Nnnngghhh’ Rioli (at least I think that’s what Bruce said)

    And I’m too polite to talk about ‘Jobby’ and ‘Spitter’

  15. “Monica” Wodjinski – Geelong

  16. kath presdee says

    On the evolution of nicknames – James Macdonald was “Junior” at Melbourne, but when he played for GWS in 2012 he was “Fossil”

  17. some double ups here but some others worth of mention.

    Love Scones for Mark Greatbatch

  18. Chris Weaver says

    Cyril “Jazz Legs” Gambetta – 1920s forward at St Kilda. Got the moniker due to bent legs from childhood polio.

    Ryan “Shooter” McMahon – life member at Port Melbourne. He arrived for training in his first pre-season with the Boroughs still dressed in his golf gear. The resemblance to ‘Shooter’ McGavin from Happy Gilmore was too good to pass up.

    On the Phil Sigsworth line – there used to be a centre back in English football called Fitz Hall. His nickname? “One size”.

    Edward “Carji” Greeves – a childhood nickname bestowed by a family friend. References a character in the 1902 play A Country Girl.

    One of my favourites also concerns a stable hand who used to work for the Freedman brothers. Apparently he was always highly strung, which led to him being called “Towtruck” – heading for a breakdown.

  19. That first one above reminds me of Alan ‘Banana Legs’ Hopkins of Footscray fame

  20. Great conversation. There’s a couple I love including Clayton ‘Candles’ Thompson (Hawthorn), Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence (Carlton), Jim ‘The Ghost’ Jess of Richmond and of course, Mick ‘The Galloping Gasometer’ Nolan of North Melbourne.

  21. Mark ‘Smirky’ Dwyer, who burst onto the scene at Fitzroy in 1986 & got quite a few Brownlow votes then quickly disappeared, now a real estate agent in Warrnambool.

  22. From Arden Street:
    “Boomer” Harvey. A reminder that he has played more games than ANYONE else in VFL/AFL history.
    Phil “Snake” Baker. As in “Long bombs to Snake”…
    Brent “Tiger” Crosswell. Simply one of the greatest I ever saw.
    John “Horse” Longmire. I will leave it to your imagination.
    Andrew “Spitter” Swallow.
    Laurie “Twinkle Toes” Dwyer.
    Wayne “The Duck” Carey.
    Ian “Floss” Fairley.
    Gary “Crazy Horse” Cowton.
    Brett “Fruity” Allison.
    Mark “The Fridge” Roberts.
    “Slamming” Sam Kekovich.

  23. Mickey Randall says

    Some great names here.

    The dismal state of Australian cricket is captured by Nathan Lyon’s nickname. An appalling lack of invention and wordplay. I’d rather he was handled “Nath.”

  24. Peter Warrington says

    Mark The General Lee and St Francis, the best Governor Victoria never had

  25. Phil Kennedy says

    Great list Pete but don’t forget Lewis Roberts Thompson aka ‘Beaker’ !

  26. Danae Gibson says

    I’m not sure about Nathan Fyfe’s ‘official’ nickname but the first time I saw him play I called out my encouragement and my mate misheard me. Nathan is now known as Fluffy.

  27. Steve Cleal says

    Mathew “Keith” Boyd, surely the dullest nick-name and yes I know it’s his actual middle name!
    Bernard “Huck” Toohey, cracked me up when I first heard it.
    Robert “Bones” McGhie, a perfect nick-name!
    Referring to Bruce’s nick-name for Cyril, I thought it was “Delicious”?! and Bruce has
    a new nick-name for the Bont: “Him” as in “It’s Him!, you know who it is!, it’s Him!!”

  28. Stan the Man says

    WOW Jones played for Carlton and St Kilda.
    Due to his W W tattoos on each of his buttocks….. with the donut in the middle

    work it out lol

  29. Daryl Sharpen says

    And then there was Brett Heady aka Joibby.

  30. mmmmm, maybe an errant ‘i’ in there

  31. 1975 to 85, nickname “Bumby”, played for melbourne.
    Who was it?

  32. Here’s a few baseballer’s nick names. Ian “Digger” Leahy, Brian “Winger” Moore, Don “Peanuts” Martin, John “Crasher” Horley, Barry “Ox” Wiles, Norm “Chalky” White, Brian “Slam” Brooks, Kingsley “Duke” Wellington, Neil “Supee” Page, “Fiery”Fred Medley, Ron “Chuckles” Chandler, Kevin “Lurch” Greatrex, Adrian “Daisy” Pearce, Dave “Tuesday” or “Wednesday” Mundy and Greg “Chicken Wing” Elkson

  33. PS Here’s a few extras – John “Whistler” McGregor, Brian “Band-aid” Sharp and umpire John “Barrel” Tyson. All players mentioned played with distinction for SA whilst Page,, Greatrex, Elkson, Mundy and Chandler played for Australia against touring Japanese sides and toured the Philippines and Canada. White starred for Australia in the ’56 Melbourne Olympics against an American baseball team.

    Wellington, besides playing great ‘ball for SA went on to become Australia’s international baseball coach. Page, Elkson, Greatrex and Wellington are HALL OF FAMERS.

    A very imposing list of fabolous players

  34. ‘Delicate’ Des Dickson
    ‘Basher’ Williams
    ‘Scratcher’ Neal
    Rene ‘The Incredible Hulk’ Kink
    ‘Dasher’ Milburn

    Cheers, Burkie

  35. The great St Kilda champion Darrel Baldock was, of course, appropriately nicknamed “the Doc”.

    Ruckman Paul Salmon of Essendon and Hawthorn was nicknamed “the big fish”.

  36. Great additions. But what about? SOS – Stephen Silvagni, Soapy – Harry Vallance, Cocker – Gordon Strang, Spudda – Greg Tate.

  37. Goodness, i’m sure i commented on this post a few years back.

    Any how let’s do it again. I’ll look at Port Melbourne the VFA power house.

    Graham “Buster” Harland.

    Paul, “Blocker” Goss.

    Vic “Stretch” Annensen.

    Greg “Biffer” Dermott.

    Graeme “Arms” Anderson.

    David “Sammy” Holt.

    Bob “Bullwinkle” Proffit

    Russell “Sudsy” Davies..

    A few memories there.


  38. A few more.

    ‘Cowboy’ Neale
    ‘Stiffy’ Johncock
    ‘Troubles’ Flanagan
    ‘Skeeter’ Coghlan
    ‘Ragsy’ Goold

    and a couple of umpies

    ‘Razor’ Ray Chamberlain
    Jack ‘Roughnut’ Irving

    Cheers, Burkie

  39. Hows about some great Norwood players. Graham “Molly” Molloy. Ron “Tank” Kneebone, “Gentleman John” Wynne, Greg “Turps” Turbill, Peter “Buckethead” Vivian, Albert “Pongo” Sawley. Glen “Black Duck” Rosser, Warren “Race Horse ” Packer, Ross “Marshall” Dillon, Ian “Buster” Gordon and Michael “Kingo” Taylor

    Centrals also had a Peter Vivian sporting the nickname “Milky” whilst Port Adelaide had Neville “Chicken” Hayes and Trevor “Bubbles” Obst. Over at West Torrens, Lindsay Head was often referred to as “Fancy Pants”

    Glenelg had Harry “The Horse” Kernahan and Wayne “Butch” Phillis Apologies to all those I have forgotten

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