Yabba – A witty barracker

Yabba

Statue of Yabba at the Sydney Cricket Ground

 

With all the controversy surrounding crowd behaviour at AFL games it is interesting to reflect upon “barracking” at sporting events, particularly as seen in the past.

 

The following information is published in Wikipedia about the legendary barracker Yabba.

 

Stephen Harold Gascoigne, better known as Yabba, (19 March 1878 – 8 January 1942) was an Australian sports fan, remembered as a heckler at Sydney Cricket Ground cricket and rugby league games in the early part of the 20th century. Yabba was known for his knowledgeable witticisms shouted loudly from “The Hill”, a grassy general admissions area of the SCG.

 

In Yabba’s era, cricket matches were watched like tennis matches, and spectators at the SCG were much quieter than today. This is the reason Yabba’s comments were so clearly heard by players and other spectators.

 

“The Hill” area was replaced with seating in the early 1990s. The new area was then formally named Yabba’s Hill in honour of his colourful comments, several of which have passed into cricketing folklore. In 2007 the Doug Walters Stand and Yabba’s Hill were demolished to make way for the new Victor Trumper Stand. On 7 December 2008 a bronze statue of Yabba, sculpted by Cathy Weiszmann, was unveiled at the Sydney Cricket Ground in The Hillarea of the new stand. It depicts Yabba in a characteristic pose, one hand acting as a megaphone, in the act of delivering one of his famous interjections. [1]

 

Yabba was portrayed by Paul Chubb in the 1984 mini-series Bodyline.

Yabba’s view across the pitch of the Sydney Cricket Ground

 

 

Some of Yabba’s best remembered insults include:

 

  • “I wish you were a statue and I were a pigeon.”
  • Telling a fly-swatting English cricket captain, Douglas Jardine, to “Leave our flies alone, Jardine. They’re the only friends you’ve got here.”
  • “Send ‘im down a piano, see if ‘e can play that!”
  • “Oh for a strong arm and a walking stick!” (at bad bowling; leg spinner Arthur Mailey, a regular victim of this one, quotes it several times in his book 10 for 66 and All That)
  • “Those are the only balls you’ve touched all day!” (To an English batsman adjusting his box in between overs).
  • “Put a penny in him, George, he’s stopped registering” (To umpire George Borwick who read gas meters and emptied the cash boxes for a living, when Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was scoring slowly)
  • “Your length’s lousy but you bowl a good width!” (To an opposition bowler)

 

To read more about Yabba, check out the following links

 

http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/269159.html

 

https://lynnwalsh.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/remembering-yabba-a-sydney-cricket-ground-character/

 

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gascoigne-stephen-harold-yabba-6286

 

Read Colin Thiele’s poem about barracking HERE.

 

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Comments

  1. Yabba spent all day harassing an English fieldsman on the boundary near him, eventually telling him how ugly he was and that he was sick of looking at him.. The young player got tired of this and complained to Captain Jardine who sent the gnarly old pro Patsy Hendren to field there.
    Patsy was halfway to the boundary when Yabba yelled “send the kid back”.

  2. Do we prefer wit in slavery or the dim-witted in freedom?

  3. Bernard Whimpress says

    Richard Cashman also wrote a biography of Yabba (Walla Walla Press, 2015)

    I’m in two minds about barracking. In my poem, A Footy Crowd (1999) I wrote in part:

    A footy crowd
    is not about
    being locked into a season’s ticket
    sitting next to some loud-mouth dickhead
    you wouldn’t normally waste spit on.
    Footy Park is bad enough.
    Docklands, the worst nightmare to come.

    A footy crowd
    is about being able to put space
    between yourself
    and the source of your aggravation.

    Today I’ll be watching Goodwood Saints v Brighton at the Brighton Oval. If any dickhead is aggravating me I’ll move my chair somewhere else.

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