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10. Footy FAQ: Footy Words You Need to Know

This is a "dictionary" of terms common in Australian football.  While there is a some general Aussie slang here, our emphasis is on footy.  For general references to Aussie slang see these sources: and

A/C: acromio-clavicular joint, the shoulder joint; severe injury to the A/C joint can sometimes require a reconstruction and sideline a player for the season

ACL: anterior cruciate ligament. One of several ligaments which support the knee and connect the knee joint to the other leg muscles. A ruptured ACL requires a knee reconstruction and will sideline a player for 12 months, However, some players have opted for the LARS procedure (Ligament Advanced Reinforcement System) which uses artificial material to replace the damaged tissue instead of a graft. It has been used for the last 4-5 years and players have returned to play in 4-6 months. It has been used in Europe for over 20 years but only came to prominence in AFL when Sydney's Nick Malceski was the first player to undergo the procedure in 2008

Advantage paid: umpiring decision in which play continues after an infringement if the team with the ball is infringed upon; rather than stop play to award the free kick, the umpire allows play to continue so as not to disadvantage the attacking team.

Ball (shouted): when a player is caught with the ball by an opposing player or the ball is locked up on the ground by a pack of players, fans will shout "Ball" as an encouragement to the umpires.

Ball Magnet: player who accumulates a large number of possessions of the ball is said to be a ball magnet

Ball on a string: same as ball magnet, a player might be referred to as having the ball on a string or even said to have "brought his own ball to the game".

Ball-up (also bounce or ruck): restart of play after the ball has been whistled "dead" by the umpire.

Banana: a kick which bends around the body, also known as a "checkside" punt.

Barrack/Barracker: to cheer for a team, one who supports a team. Origin believed to come from the world wars when army personnel stationed in barracks in Melbourne attended games or their barracks were close to the playing grounds

Behind: one point scored when the ball passes between a goal post and the shorter outer post, when the ball hits the goal post, or when a defender touches the ball before it crosses the goal line or a defender forces the ball through to prevent a goal being scored.

Blinder: excellent performance, e.g. Dan Hanneberry had a blinder of a game with 32 possessions and 4 goals

Blue: bad mistake, or a fight

Boil Over: an unexpected upset in which a team not expected to win by any stretch of the imagination pulls off a victory

Brownlow: highest individual honor a player can win. Named for long-time Geelong Football Club servant Charles Brownlow (1862-1924). Equivalent to MVP in the NFL.

Clanger: extremely bad mistake during play, such as kicking the ball to an opposition player

Claret: blood

Clunk a mark: take a mark (catch the ball), newer slang expression first appearing in 2014

Coathanger: an illegal around the neck tackle.  Also refers to the Sydney bridge

Complete Package: refers to a player who can do just about everything: goals, run well, catch the ball, tackle, etc. from just about anywhere on the ground. Often will be used to describe a new recruit.

Corky: bad soft tissue bruising in which small blood vessels break under the skin and bleed into the muscle tissue. Most common on thighs and calves

Cotton Wool: a player coming back from injury or an older player whom the club is trying to protect may be said to be "wrapped in cotton wool" (e.g. given lighter training loads and/or limited game time).

Crook: not well, ill, or can refer to an injury, e.g. a crook knee, a player might also say he or the injury is not too flash

Daisy-cutter: low to the ground kick of the football. Also called a wormburner

Dirty: to be angry about something or with someone, e.g. the coach was dirty on the umpires for perceived bad decisions during the game. Filthy can also be used in the same vein. Can also mean to have a poor game (e.g. Travis Cloke had a dirty day with just one goal and 2 marks).

Disposal: when a player in possession of the ball rids himself of the ball by hand or foot. An effective disposal finds a teammate. An ineffective disposal misses its intended target or ends up with an opposition player

Draw:  Sometimes refers to the schedule of games, or has alternate meaning referring to a tied game; also see fixture or fixtures for draw.

Fifty-meter penalty: penalty awarded to the opposition for an egregious infraction during play, which allows the ball to be moved closer to goal. This penalty can be awarded to the infringed team for improperly returning the ball after a free kick has been called, an opposition player encroaching on the player who has been awarded a mark (catch of the ball), and umpire abuse.

Finals: the play-offs, with eight teams gradually being eliminated over three weeks and culminating in the best two playing off in the Grand Final (equivalent to the NFL Super Bowl) for the Premiership or championship.

Find The Sticks: a player skilled at kicking goals is said to know how to find the sticks. Usually refers to a player other than the forwards.

Fixture: schedule of games for the season

Fixtures: games

Flag: the premiership or Grand Final win. Refers to a time before premiership cups when clubs were awarded a "premiership" flag instead.

Free kick: kick awarded to a player after a mark or for minor infractions.

Goal: six points awarded when the ball is kicked through the tall uprights.

Guernsey: playing jersey

Hammy: hamstring

Handpass or handball: fisting the ball to another player (the ball must be fisted, it cannot be thrown). The technique is similar to an underhanded volleyball serve.

Hit the woodwork: a kick for goal which hits one of the posts.

Hit-out: the ruck contest, usually in the center circle to start the game or quarters and after a goal is scored. Hit-out to advantage refers to a contest in which the ruckman gets the ball to a teammate. Can also refer to an intra-club or practice match, e.g., the Swans needed an early hit-out after returning from holidays. Can also refer to a player making his way back after a long layoff, e.g., Joel Selwood had his first solid hitout in the reserves after recovering from concussion.

Home and away: the regular season as opposed to preseason games or the finals.

Interchange: (the bench), the substitution (or rotation) of players during a game. Players entering or leaving the field of play must do so at a designated interchange area which is monitored by stewards. Besides the "starting 18" players for any given match, the coaching staff will also nominate four interchange players who can be rotated at any time, as well as one substitute who can come on to replace one of the starting players. 

Kick A Bag: Refers to a player (usually a forward) who kicks a large number of goals in a game, e.g. Jack Riewoldt kicked a bag with 10 goals.

Knock-on: hitting the ball without actually having possession, can be done with the ball in the air or on the ground.

Ladder: the standings or table

LARS: or Ligament Augmentation & Reconstruction System, a copyrighted method for ligament reconstruction used primarily for knees but can be used for any ligament repair. In the past, an injury such an ACL (see above) would sideline a player for a year or more. With the LARS method that time is cut in half or less. Sydney's Nick Malceski was the first footy player to undergo the then-new technique and was back playing in four months.

Leather poisoning: a player who gets the ball a lot during the match is said to be risking leather poisoning. Similar to ball magnet or having the ball on a string (see above)

Lower colors: to be beaten by a direct opponent in a game. Originates from old naval sailing time when a defeated ship would lower its country's flag from the mast to signal surrender

Mark: a clean catch of the ball from a kick which travels approximately 12 yards or more. A player awarded the mark has the option of taking a "free" kick without interference from the opposition or to immediately play on. Choosing the latter allows opposition players to attempt to catch and tackle him.

Medial ligament: another ligament in the knee, the ACL, PCL (see below) and medial ligament criss-cross one another to support the knee and link up to the quad (thigh) muscles and hamstrings

Minor Premier: team which finishes the season in first place. Does not guarantee a Grand Final win or even making the Grand Final as they still have get through the finals series.

On The Pine: sitting on the bench during a game

One-percenter: knock-on, spoil, a shepherd or other minor actions which might not seem important but are valuable to the team effort.

PCL: posterior cruciate ligament. Another knee ligament; injury to this ligament will not sideline a player for a year, but can put a player out for 2 weeks or more, depending on the severity of the injury

Pepper The Goals: when a team has numerous scoring chances, usually said when all those scoring shots result in more misses than goals

Percentage: points scored divided by points against; is the first tie-breaker (after win-loss-tie) on the ladder.

Pill: the football. Some commentators will also refer to the ball as the "nut"

Play-on: the umpire will call play-on to indicate no mark is awarded or advantage is paid (see above)

Poster: scoring shot which hits the post, also called hitting the woodwork

Pull The Pin: retire, also hang up the boots or call it a day

Premiers: the champions, team who wins the Grand Final

Purple Patch: a run of good form. Can refer to a player during a game, eg., Chris Judd had a purple patch in the third term with 10 possessions a two goals; can also refer to a team having a winning streak such as Essendon in 2000 when they had a purple patch in winning their first 20 games

Rainmaker: high soaring kick of the ball

Reco: short for reconstruction, such as a knee or shoulder reco. This will most often put a player out for the season.

Rounds: weekly games of the home and away season

Rushed behind: one point to the opposition when a defender deliberately pushes the ball through the goal posts to stop the opposition attack and a potential goal.

Screamer: massively high mark (see speccie)

Shattered: to be extremely disappointed

Shepherd: blocking opponents from getting the ball or tackling a teammate who has the ball, also sometimes done by players near the goal line when a teammate kicks a long goal, to prevent an opposition defender from trying to get close enough to touch the ball to force a point.

Slot: to kick a goal; can also refer to a new player who joined the club via draft or trade and is fitting in well with his new team (e.g. former Lion Jason Akermanis slotted in well with his new teammates at the Bulldogs in 2007).

Sledge: trash talk, insult, goad or jibe an opposition player as an attempt to distract him from playing well.

Speccie: (also spekkie) when a player leaps high in the air to catch the ball i.e. a spectacular mark. Also known as a screamer.

Spoil: to foil a player attempting to take a mark,  e.g. Jeremy Cameron set himself to take the mark, but Daniel Talia punched the ball away to spoil him.

Spray: severe scolding, usually from the coach to a player or the team. Also called a rocket or ear-bashing. Can refer to a poor kick for goal, e.g. he has sprayed his kick to the left.

Straight Kick: when the difference in the scores is one goal or six points. Commentators will often say the difference is one straight kick

Torpedo: long, high, spiral kick of the ball. Very difficult to catch and is primarily used when kicking for goal from 50 meters (55 yards) or more

Whinge: to complain

White Line Fever: crossing the boundary line onto the field of play turning mild mannered individual into Dr. Jekyll

White Maggot: less than flattering term used by fans to refer to the umpire (this expression may be a bit inappropriate now as the AFL introduced new umpire uniforms several years ago to prevent them from blending in with teams which have a lot of white and blue in their uniforms)

Wooden Spoon: euphemistic award for the team finishing dead last in the standings

Article last changed on Monday, May 02, 2016 - 1:02 PM EDT

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