Plenty in a (nick)name

AUSTRALIA is well versed in providing suitable nicknames for their sports people and indeed its general populace.

I'm not talking about the boringly mundane Bluey, Red, Macca or, dare I say, Pommy but rather those that require at least a smidgin of thought.

Some are of course terms of endearment, some definitely not!

Some are also entirely wrong (for example, John Eales has, to his recollection, never been called Nobody as in 'nobody's perfect') but most of the printable ones are absolute classics.

It seems this is far from an Australian phenomenon with examples aplenty from around the world.

I write about this because recently browsing the internet in a frantic and at times desperate search for something remotely interesting to write about, I came across this little gem from the UK.

English rugby union side Leicester Tigers have a new recruit in a guy called Billy Twelvetrees.

His skipper, the Irish international Geordan Murphy, christened Twelvetrees '36' (pause for thought …) Thirty-six you say? (another pause).

Well, if you use a broad Irish accent the like of which Murphy possesses, 12 t'rees equals 36!

Like it? I love it!

As I said, there are examples aplenty from around the globe …

Some describe absolutely gob-smacking feats - Mohammed 'The Greatest' Ali, think Michael 'Air' Jordan or the simple Wayne 'The Great One' Gretsky, who possesses nearly every ice hockey record known to man.

Nicknames can also describe whole teams - the Minnesota Vikings' defensive line in the 1970s were referred to as the Purple People Eaters, presumably in reference to their uniform and their penchant for devouring opposition quarter backs.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' entire side was known simply as the 'Steel Curtain', which deferred to the origins of the city as much as the way they played the game.

And Andre Rison, a former Atlanta Falcons player, went by the name of 'Bad Moon'.

The best to me at least are those that require a bit of grey matter to work out.

They play on words rather than describe.

So what about the English boxer Paul 'Okey Dokey' Okey (you put your left fist in …) or his pugilistic countryman Paul 'Lobster' Thermidor!?

Boxing also provides us with DaVarryl 'Touch of Sleep' Williamson, Roberto 'Hands of Stone' Duran as well of the two absolute best nicknamed events bar none - the 'Thrilla in Manila' and the 'Rumble in the Jungle'.

Former Everton striker Paul Pointon obviously didn't score enough goals as he was known as 'Dissa' (geddit?) while Martin 'Chariots' Offiah was a classic on the wing in union and league.

Phil Sigsworth was apparently referred to as 'What's a Paketta' and of course there was the St George Invincible Reg Gasnier universally referred to as 'Puff' for his conjuring feats on the paddock.

Cricket has given us a few -'Dizzy' Gillespie, Paul 'Pistol' Rieffel, Peter 'Sounda' Sleep, Mark 'Afghanistan' Waugh (as in the forgotten war - he did make his Australian debut three years after his brother Steve 'Tugger' Waugh, after all!) to name but a few.

England rugby union flanker Peter Winterbottom was called 'Bungalow' simply because there was nothing up top while over the ditch a nameless All Black went by the monicker of 'Beer Bottle' for similar reasons (empty from the neck up!).

Stephen 'Bernie' Larkham did the rounds as apparently he was about as excitable as the corpse in the movie 'Weekend at Bernies' and Sam Norton-Knight is 'Two Dads' as punishment for his hyphenation.

I'll leave the final word to darts where if you don't have a nickname you can't turn professional.

Eric the 'Crafty Cockney' Bristow is from London, Tony the 'Deadly Boomerang' from down under, Jamie 'Bravedart' Harvey from Glasgow and, best of all, John 'Darth Maple' Part from Canada!

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