Life: What’s in a name?

After reading my copy of The Footy Almanac 2009, I was inspired and thought this could be my perfect opportunity to follow my dream to become a sports journalist. So I decided to sign up to this wonderful website and try and contribute something to this awesome collection. My dream of being a sports journalist is still a few years away, because I’m only fifteen, but I am sure of a few things that will hopefully help me get there.

First of all, I’ll try and be as fair as possible. Nothing annoys me more than when a writer favours his or her own team.

Second, I’ll take things in my stride. If anyone doubts, criticises or complains about me, I’ll listen to what’s said, make improvements and will not get upset by it.

Last, and most importantly, I’ll always sign my name off with ‘Cobba

My first name is Jake — well, actually Jacob — and the ‘cob’ on the end, has evolved into Cobba. As Paul Daffey pointed out the other day, calling friends “Cobber” is a thing of the past, and I agree with that. In case you don’t know,  cobber was an Australian term used during the war that meant mate or friend. It’s pretty uncommon these days, as so far I’ve only met one other person named Cobba — and he was in his eighties!

It is an old name, but a good one. I don’t think we should lose such a unique part of our language and history. Maybe it’ll come back and maybe it will become part of our everyday language again. I hope so.

My nickname is met well by my footy mates. But I’m far from being the only one of us with a nickname. There’s Tommo, Devo, China, Bish, Boony, T, Jono and Bazza. Wanted or not, there’s no backing out once your teammates pick it up. And usually it will stay with you for the rest of your life.

I believe Cobba is a good unique Aussie name. So I ask you, what’s your nickname? And most importantly, why and where did it start? Perhaps you want to start up a nickname but can’t. Everybody has their story. What’s yours?

About Jake "Cobba" Stevens

Cobba Stevens works in sports social media and content. A keen middle-distance runner in both the ammos and the pros, he's also one of the youngest 'old bloods' supporters in Melbourne.


  1. Cobba,

    At a family function yesterday, Jo’s Uncle Bob was lamenting that none of the undergraduate workers in his shop understands terms like “baggy arse”, “shiny bum” and “packed to the gunnels”. (There was another one, the one that started the conversation, but I can’t remember it now.)

    “They’re great old Australian terms,” Bob said. “They shouldn’t be lost.”

    Bob served in the army in Vietnam. All those terms are army terms. I said it’s unsurprising that youngsters these days don’t know them because the years of widespread army service are so long gone.

    As we were talking, another one of Jo’s uncles, John, asked: “Do you want a beer, cobber?”

    I had an afternoon in Old Australia.

  2. Richard Naco says


    More power to you, mate! The lingo will only live while people actually use it, and you do see fair dinkum about it. But be aware that for a language to survive it must also evolve. If you can ever cop a butcher’s hook at Can We Help You on the ABC, every episode contains a segment on the evolution of a word or a phrase which is – fair suck of the Sav – rippertune (and I’m avoiding the temptation to say “bonza” here).

    A worrying trait in the evolution of Strine – for me at least – is the tradition of giving nicknames which are the opposite of the object (or person). We’re talking about nicknaming redheads “Blue” (instead of the bleeding obvious “Red”, that is SO American and so media typical these days); tall people “Shorty”; short people “Stretch”; & stout people “Slim” – to cite a few obvious examples.

    Manning Clark House (see the link on the Home page) will actually be having a weekend where the topic of discussion will be the health or otherwise of our own form of English.

    Being in my sixth decade in this wide brown land, I have had quite a few nicknames, which include; “Rocky” (derived from “Rockhead” – you can guess why) & then “God” (in Year 11; because the Year 12s at our school thought I thought I was); through “Yogi” (as in “Bear”, because I was 193cms tall & 180 kilos at that time & supposedly considered myself to be smarter than the average bear – not true at all) to my current, and favourite: “Ooze” (which is a shortening of “Oozeboss”, as in “who’s boss around here?”).

    Just for your collection.

  3. Richard Naco says

    Correction: paragraph 2 should read: “the fading of the tradition of giving nicknames … “. (I feel such a dill!)

  4. I love a good nickname, and have given my friends several (poor souls). But none of them are traditionally Australian – I miss this. This article has inspired me to be a bit more patriotic in my renaming of people. I’ve had a few nicknames over the years, one or two of which are inappropriate for public viewing, but the more G-Rated ones include:

    Susie G (reference to “Ali G”)
    Goose (because my surname almost sounds like “Geese”)
    Giesey/Giesa (my nickname during sports back in primary and early secondary)
    Boofhead/Boof (no particular reason)
    Tana (hispanic equivalent of Susie)
    And, for 3 days in grade six, Bluey (one of the fathers decided that dark auburn is close enough to ranga, so “Bluey” I was dubbed)

  5. My nickname is, err, Dips. It evolved in so many different ways that my father, who first coined it, can’t remember how it happened.

    Supposedly it’s roots were in the fact that I was (and am) vertically challenenged and was initially called threepence (pronounced probably incorrectly as “THRi-pence”). I couldn’t get my name around this word. The closest I could get was “Trips” which apprently became “Dips”. Or so the story goes.

  6. John Butler says


    When I started playing cricket, there were people who could still remember the naturalist Harry Butler. “Harry Butler in the wild” quickly became the call. Just as quickly, this was shortened to “H” or “Big H”.

    Not exactly nicknames, but on a related note, my surname has attracted other attention.

    At primary school, the TV series On The Buses was still running. Hence, it was “I’ll get you Butler” every school day.

    Later on, some scruffy muso type came along. It’s amazing how “Where’s the other two?” is every bit as funny the 1000th time as it was the first.

  7. Richard Naco says

    I can relate to that last sentence, John.

    Everybody who takes the mickey out of my first name seems to think they’re being incredibly original.

  8. Phil Dimitriadis says

    That’s funny JB,

    if you formed an alliance with Crio you could be Crio and Trio.

    When I was a kid I’d get Flip a lot. Then one of my cousins who liked Flip Wilson started calling me Wilson. It has stuck ever since.

  9. Peter Flynn says

    A group of old chinas gave me the nickname Sneaky or Sneak after Sneaky Pete’s bar in Cowgate, Edinburgh. Used to be a wonderful place for a beer or 20.

    It can be disconcerting to be introduced as Sneak. People think I am dodgy.

    Errol gets a run as well.

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