GARRY “BUDDHA” HOCKING
IF you wanted proof that religion is a bit of a crock, you only need look as far as the Cats in the early-90s.
They had God. They had Buddha. They even had Aaron Lord. And still they couldn’t win a flag.
While it’s a common misconception that Hocking’s nickname stems from his 500 million mostly Asian followers, it actually came from his dad, who believed junior Hocking looked a lot like Buddha when he sat cross-legged in front of the TV watching the footy on the weekend.
BRENT “BOOMER” HARVEY
THE soon to be games record holder hasn’t always been known as “Boomer”, but the nickname has been around longer than some think.
There was a theory he picked it up early in his career at the Kangaroos, as an ironic spin on the fact that boomer Kangaroos tend to be large, while Harvey is famously small.
But the little legend put that to bed last year.
“The coach’s wife was handing out the most courageous award and made up the name ‘Little Boomer’ on the spot,” Harvey said of his playing days at junior club Preston RSL.
“No one knew who she was talking about until she said: ‘C’mon Boomer … Brent Harvey, come and get your award’.”
GREG “DIESEL” WILLIAMS
WHEN Greg Williams chugged into Geelong station from Bendigo in 1984, he’d already been rejected by Carlton – twice – for being too slow.
One game later, Williams slowly accumulated 38 disposals in his Cats debut and Carlton’s recruiting staff quietly uttered “well…fuck” under their collective breaths.
Williams’ reliable, plodding-like pace inspired Geelong captain Mick Turner to nickname him “Diesel” after the engine, and a legend was slowly born.
GRAHAM “POLLY” FARMER
THE second-most famous Geelong player to wear the No.5 guernsey, Polly Farmer revolutionised the ruck position through superior athleticism and a handball that was longer than some blokes can kick.
Just like a tall, highly-skilled, Indigenous kid from Perth that would dominate the competition three decades later, this tall, highly-skilled, Indigenous kid from Perth’s nickname was given to him as a kid.
A fairly quiet guy when he played, Farmer was called “Polly” as a six-year-old because he “chattered away like a parrot”.
JAMES “JOCK” MCHALE
JOCK McHale did more than any other man to “uphold the Magpies name”. *Cor blimey*.
The thing is, he didn’t know much about his own name.
From day dot his moniker caused him problems, with his birth certificate reading James McKale instead of James McHale.
Then somewhere along the line someone started calling him “Jock” and they didn’t stop. He had no idea why.
The first recorded instance of the legendary Collingwood leader being called “Jock” was in the 1912 annual report, his first year as playing coach – and it just stuck.
The Herald popularised the nickname through several cartoons depicting McHale in a kilt and Scottish hat, even though his family heritage was Irish.
WILFRED “CHICKEN” SMALLHORN
OTHER than being one of the badass footballers that survived Changi by starting their very own football league, Wilfred Smallhorn was forced to deal with the hardship of being called Wilfred.
Luckily for Smallhorn, he was like the anti-Marty McFly and was happy for everyone to call him “Chicken”.
The Brownlow Medallist and speedy Fitzroy winger apparently snagged the name as a kid, when his exasperated mother found it so difficult to catch him she likened it to trying to catch a chicken.
COREY “BORIS” ENRIGHT
THERE’S a common theory that Corey Enright’s nickname stems from him sharing a likeness to the character Boris from Goldeneye.
It’s a bullshit theory.
For one, he doesn’t look much like Boris from Goldeneye, and two, he’s had the nickname since he was a kid.
According to his parents, Enright used to kick his footy around so much that he’d be left with just the bladder of the ball. He’d then kick the bladder into the wall of the family home, with the noise resulting in the nickname “Boom Boom”.
“Boom Boom” then morphed in “Boris”, after tennis legend Boris Becker, who shared Enright’s original nickname.
KEVIN “COWBOY” NEALE
KNOWN as the bloke who stopped Peter Hudson from breaking Bob Pratt’s 150 goals in a season record by knocking him out, Neale was known as Cowboy because he once duelled a neighbour with pistols at dawn in his hometown of Warrnambool.
Yeah, nah, that’s a lie.
Neale was called “Cowboy” because of his bow legs and rolling gait. Boring.
LANCE “BUDDY” FRANKLIN
HERE’S an idea. If you’ve already got a Lance in the family and it’s going to confuse you adding another one, DON’T CALL YOUR KID LANCE.
To distinguish him from his father, Lance Sr, Franklin’s family started calling him Buddy as a kid.
Why they didn’t just call him Buddy from the start is anyone’s guess, but it’s to the point where everyone has forgotten what his actual name is anyway. So…we guess that’s a win?