Talking of getters, blockers, bolters and carriers

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IF YOU reckon there’s a lot of gobbledygook in footy language these days, take a trip back in time with GEOFF POULTER:

IT is not just the game of Australian Rules that changes and evolves dramatically every decade or so –  the language and terminology does too. So much so it can be totally foreign to the next generation.

About 30 years ago FOOTY-SPEAK reached a new high. Back then one’s father would not have understood most of the terms; similarly, today, one’s son would be scratching his head over many of those 1988 sayings.

In the late 1980s, on advice from premiership coach David Parkin, I compiled a list of footy slang for an A to Z style article in the Melbourne Herald. Later we developed that into a typical coach’s pre-match address.

Parko penned the first few sentences and I added a few more.  I wanted to try to include every single term imaginable – so, technically, it might have been a bit over-done. But I’m sure it doesn’t detract from its novelty appeal.

Here are the coach’s instructions, circa 1988:

“Make sure we have our IN-AND-UNDER SHORTS with our ON-BALLERS in the MIDFIELD CHANNEL. Have TALLS and MEDIUMS at the FALL of the ball at the WORKFACE to FEED and LAY OFF and give it FIRST OPTION to the OVERLAPS through the CORRIDOR as we build the OFFENSIVE OVERLOAD with LATERAL HANDBALL for a GOOD SPREAD.

“Move our SWEEPERS and LINKMEN up for the REBOUND as the ONE-WAYERS and BREAKAWAYS move from the BACK HALF to the FRONT HALF to maintain the flow – and keep at least one CRUMBER and OFF-BALLER to PEEL OFF near the KEY.  Use ONE-SIDED players as the OUT-RIDERS and the SCREEN in the BUNCH UP or HUDDLE and run the FLOATERS to the FATS and turn them into THINS.

“Make sure we’re not one TALL short at the back and the ZONE has the right balance of GETTERS, BLOCKERS, BOLTERS and CARRIERS so that when the ball is CENTERED and SQUARED over the wall to the head of the SQUARE we have at least one CHECK-SIDED SMALL to hit the face near the TALL OPTION LEAD-ER or GO-TO FRONT AND SQUARE.

“To avoid their LIGHTHOUSE in our GRASS SIDE we need RUN AND SHARE players with QUICK HANDS AROUND THE EDGES, performing HARD BALL GETS and making SACRIFICIAL ACTS. We need to CATCH it, DISH OFF on the break, SPOTTING OFF in HARDPACK SITUATIONS, DINK IT AROUND, DOUBLE TEAMING to SIT ON and CLOSE DOWN their RECEIVERS to cut their run. We want our RUN-WITH players to SQUIRT it through the spine to the HOT SPOT or HOLE for our FOCAL or SWINGMAN to UNLOAD.

“IF you don’t use your SMARTS, make AN ATTACK ON THE FOOTBALL, get the LOOSE BALLS, make the INITIAL HIT or provide a CHOP OUT then you might find yourselves back in the MAGOOS – or worse!’’

Any questions???  “’Hey cockroach, what happens if we don’t get the pill???

Parkin, who helped revolutionise the footy lingo back in the 80s, along with the likes of Robert Walls, Bernie Sheehy, David Wheadon and later Ted Hopkins, was suitable amused recently when I reminded him of those glory days of FOOTYSPEAK.


The best-laid plans of mice and men.

I’m reminded of a story of one footy coach, from back in the day, so infuriated by his team’s wimpy effort, called his players “behind closed doors’’ for a good old-fashioned spray.

The coach grabbed a Ross Faulkner and, pointing at his men, bellowed at his charges: “Let’s get back to the real basics. Some of you didn’t see or touch this today. This is what is called a football.’’

Just then he was interrupted by an impassioned plea from the back of the group. “Hey coach, don’t go so fast.”


Author: Geoff Poulter

GEOFF POULTER, 69, has spent 51 years in sports media. He was the last Melbourne Herald chief football writer. CV: Sports oracle, author, historian, impersonator, raconteur, poet, quiz whiz, philosopher, song-writer, intellectual scholar – and still employable!



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