Australians are a unique tribe. In theory we may speak English but we have bastardized it to such an extent that it is barely recognisable to outsiders. In no other area is this more evident than when Aussies start getting emotional watching sport. We have concocted our own language to curse the referee, belittle opposition and our own players and celebrate success. When it comes to gambling and slang, strap yourself in.
AFL, or Aussie Rules, is Australia’s most beloved sport. It was first played in the 1850s and was a mix of rules from various British games. If the legend rings true it became popular with railway workers as a way to keep warm. Tom Will is also quoted as saying cricketers should play in the off season to keep warm. It has come a long way since these days. Every weekend during the winter months thousands of punters around this great brown land pack into stadiums to watch their team do battle. The AFL boasts at least one team in every state except the Northern Territory, Australia and Tasmania.
Sausage roll: Rhyming slang for a “goal”.
Pill: This isn’t a term reserved exclusively for the AFL and can be used to describe the ball in any football: AFL, NRL, Super Rugby or even A-League.
Tall timber: A term usually describing a team’s key position forwards.
Banana kick:: A kick that bends around the body in mid air, the arc resembling that of a banana.
A blue, a barney, a tiff, a melee: Other common names for a fight – even though there aren’t too many fights in footy these days.
Bomb: A long and high kick.
Torpedo: a high, swirling kick.
Blue bagger: a Carlton fan.
Rugby League slang
Rugby League, or the NRL is mostly played in Queensland and NSW with a single team in Melbourne and New Zealand. The jewel in the NRL crown is State of Origin played by the best players from Queensland and NSW in a three game series each year.
Meat pie: Rhyming slang for a “try”.
Ripper or blinder: Is a term to describe a great play or someone who is having a great game. Like “Jonathan Thurston is having an absolute ripper of a game” or “Ben Hunt had a blinder today”.
Spilled his lollies: This is usually said in reference to someone who has lost the ball or knocked on in particularly weak fashion.
Dropped a sitter: Usually said when someone drops a bomb when there was no pressure or reason to drop the ball at all.
Cricket is Australia’s premier summer sport. Recently the popularity of cricket has sky-rocketed with the advent of the domestic T20 Big Bash competition.
Jaffa: If a bowler lets rip with an absolutely terrific ball, it is often referred to as a real “jaffa”.
Cherry: The ball in Test cricket is often referred to as the “cherry” because both a cherry and a cricket ball are red.
The willow or the blade: Another name for the bat.
Throwing the willow: When a batsman swings the bat wildly at a ball.
Roll the arm over: Another term for bowling.
He’s hit the red off the ball The batsman has hit the “cherry” hard enough to knock the colour off the ball itself.
Hat-trick: A term for a bowler that gets three consecutive wickets with three consecutive balls.
Get him a hat: This is intended as an insult hurled at a fielder who is not a good catch. The feeling being maybe they would have a better chance if they could catch the ball in their hat.
Cricket is littered with great uses of the English language; from great one liners from commentators like “that’s gone through him like a hot curry” to verbal sledges, like the one delivered by great Aussie wicket keeper Ian Healy, who though the best way to get Sri Lankan hero Arjuna Ranatunga out was to “put a mars bar on a good length” in reference to the portly former captain’s weight.
Rugby Union Slang
Rugby Union, while not having a huge supporter base, has a loyal following who are well… dare we say it… known for being a bit uppity. You won’t find too much slang used by commentators, who often sound like they are talking about a royal wedding during play. One man who is doing his best to get rid of this reputation, is the king of the one liner, Nick Cummins.
Known fondly as the ‘Honey Badger’, Cummins has grown a cult following both in Australia and abroad thanks to his post match interviews. He has earned himself the reputation as the most Aussie bloke in Australian sport with some of his classic and puzzling turns of phrase.
– “I’m as full as Centrelink on pay day”
– “As busy as a one-armed brick-layer in Baghdad”
– “Gotta be on your toes like a midget at a urinal”
– “Sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage”
– The Honey Badger also refers to his legs as “get away sticks”.
Football, the world game, the round ball game, soccer… you get the drift. Soccer has plenty of different slang names. In Australia we celebrated the A-League by promptly naming the winner’s trophy the “The Toilet Seat” in reference to its uncanny resemblance.
Bicycle kick: When a player athletically jumps and kicks his legs at the ball like he is riding a bike, often trying to score goal.
Header: When a player head butts the ball from a high ball, or cross ball.
A bomb: Unlike Aussie Rules, this usually just means a very strong shot.
Back heel: A method od passing the ball, often used to confuse opposition players.
Bend: In soccer bend is referring to making the ball curve or bend after being kicked.