Please welcome another installment from Errol’s favourite guest blogger and generally angry man, Angry Man. This time, Angry Man’s got his outrage on about footy-y nicknames, and we admit: we’re guilty of it too. Sorry, Angry Man!
When Angry Man was in kindergarten, there were three boys in the class named Nicholas. In order to make things easier for classmates, one boy was called Nick, another dubbed Nicky and the final one kept the full Nicholas. In the world of Rugby League commentators, the solution to the above conundrum would be to call all three boys Nicky.
This verbal infliction was first bought to Angry Man’s attention by yet another school teacher. This one, a sage old chap by the name of Mr Maher. He once asked, “Why is it that rugby league commentators are determined to dumb down the game by throwing a “y” on the end of every player’s Christian name?”
And then it dawned – he was right.
Before continuing, it’s important to make two points. Firstly, Angry Man loves nicknames. “Piggy” is a terrific name for Mark Riddell, and the moniker given to old Bulldogs hooker Robert Mears of “Paps” is up there with the best. Secondly, in some cases, the “y” on the end suits the bloke and has replaced the proper name altogether. Cases in point are Benny Elias and Tommy Raudonikis.
But you can’t tell me that every single bloke who laces on a footy boot and takes the field has a first named ending with “y.” Well, listening to the average game of footy on the weekend would leave you thinking otherwise.
Let’s take a Rabbitohs game for example. It’s not unrealistic to envisage in one passage of play that Chrissy Sandow, may pass to Johnny Sutton, onto Sammy Burgess who pops it out the back to Davey Taylor who offloads to a flying Rhyssy Wesser who goes over untouched the corner … are you kidding me?
The “Davey” example is particularly grating, right alongside “Franky”, “Izzy” and “Stevey” as being the most irritating. If it’s bad when done to players though, it’s even worse when applied to coaches. “Timmy” Sheens is one that’s especially annoying as we’re talking about a distinguished grown man in his 60’s who’s being verbally reduced to the naughty little six-year-old in the corner.
This is a disease and one that appears to affect all rugby league commentators alike. It’s guaranteed to pop up at least a couple of times per team during any Tuesday night reading of the team sheets. It even happens with blokes making their first grade debut. Surely the commentator doesn’t know every player in the competition so well as to know that they prefer “Georgy” instead of George.
Gary Freeman should also put his hand up for a fair share of blame. Freeman does it so often that last year during a Sharks game he called Luke Covell, “Lukey Covelly.”
But Phil Gould holds the unwanted distinction of the world’s worst ever piece of commentary: “I like Lukey Lewis, Lukey’s a nice boy.”
[disclaimer: Errol loves hearing Gus' pronouncements in commentary on who he likes! Our personal favourite was his comment about Jason 'Flossy' Nightingale: "I like him, but he's special". AMEN.]
What’s so wrong about putting a “y” on the end of a player’s name? Well, as Mr Maher pointed out, it dumbs down the game. Doing it incessantly reduces rugby league to the lowest common denominator. Rugby League is a working class game but that doesn’t mean that working class or football for that matter has to be equated with dumb.
Angry Man doesn’t mind the “y” when it’s used sparingly. But when it’s abused and overused it becomes cringe worthy. It’s a verbal tic that has spread like a virus. Commentators need to take heed: Like not every sheep is white, not every Matt is Matty!