From the Grandstand by Col Hennessy
“Come on the Irukandjis, you can do it”.
What am I talking about you may well ask? Well as any true Aussie sports supporter will know, we are now cheering on the Australian Olympic surfing team.
How much thought went into this name I wonder? Quite a lot it seems (including asking the permission of first nations people to use the native term). Wouldn’t it be easier to simply call them the Maliboos, I mean so many Aussie teams include the ‘roos as part of their moniker.
A little bit of research will show just how often that syllable is included in the team-name. Let me list some of them. The most notable are the Kangaroos representing the men’s rugby league team. The women’s team are called the Jillaroos while the Walaroos are the women’s Rugby Union squad.
Then of course is the Olyroos which is our national men’s soccer team competing at the Olympics (usually under 23 I think). A soccer variant is Futsal so that representative team is known as the Futsalroos. The mainstay of our football team in World Cups are the Socceroos. I bet you didn’t know that our medical football team are in fact the Doceroos.
All in all, it’s a tad overused, so the surfers decided to go for something with a little more sting in their name. Mind you there have been some absolute disasters when it comes to such names. The original touring Rugby Union side (they were the first) were to be called the Rabbits. What if in this post Covid era we had a team called the Fever which was the name for the West Coast basketball team for a while.
The Strikers is a more than appropriate name for any soccer team, but no, it belongs to one of our big bash cricket sides (Adelaide). The Gippsland Falcons were once known as the Eastern Pride when that now sounds like the gay Rugby squad.
Controversy didn’t escape some attempts. In 2001 the Athletic squad wanted to be known as the Diggers at the World Championships. It didn’t happen. The RSL had some serious misgivings and public opinion supported them. That name was sacred.
In basketball we all know our senior teams are known as the Boomers and the Opals, but I bet you didn’t know there are another ten national teams, be they age divisions, Paralympics, wheelchair varieties or whatever. Yes, ten including the Crocs, Gems, Pearls, Goannas, Sapphires etc.
So here we are in 2021 and the second AFL team in Sydney is known as the GWS Giants. Why the ‘Greater’ when everyone knows its essentially just Western Sydney?
Finally, something for the kids. Try matching these ten names with the relevant sports. We have the Thunderbolts, Steelers, Matildas, Sonix, Sharks, Falcons, Dugongs, Belles, Flame and not forgetting the Drop Bears. I kid you not. They are our national Quidditch team (as in Harry Potter fame).