‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ Is Bullshit

‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ Is Bullshit
Image: Getty Images

For years, two words have blistered around seats at Australian sporting events like a thunderclap. Sparked by a lone wolf, an individual in the crowd with extra air in their lungs, a deep, booming chant erupts. A verbal see-saw in the name of national pride.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

I hate it.

If you shout the word ‘Aussie’ three times, in quick succession, in any sporting venue in Australia, they will come.

The chorus of Oi’s.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

It’s like that old childhood myth about Bloody Mary. Chant her name three times into the bathroom mirror ‘Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary‘ and she will appear.

You can bring out overt nationalism with one simple word, repeated thrice. It’s the simplest of chants with the simplest of meanings: “I want you to know that I am supporting the Australian team partaking in this activity against an international opponent.” It’s a tribal message. The line in the sand. Us vs Them.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

There are variations on the theme, of course. Sometimes the leader of the chant will draw out the ‘Aussie’, doing the most un-Australian thing you can do and giving the word an extra syllable: Aus-si-ie, Aus-si-ie, O-zz-y! Sometimes they’ll accentuate that final link in the three-word chain: Aussie, Aussie, Auss-ayyy! Sometimes the words are so slurred you can only make them out because you’re aware of the rhythm.

No matter the delivery, the response is always the same:

Oi! Oi! Oi!

‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ Is BullshitImage: Getty Images

It’s part of our culture. It echoes around every sports stadium, beating like a drum, every time a member of the green-and-gold steps in. But it’s more than that. It’s basically an inherited trait, passed down genetically from parents or via horizontal transfer to the newly-immigrated as soon as they’re through customs. It’s as well-known as the National Anthem and better known than Waltzing Matilda.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

Look, I’m partial to the ‘Aussie’, I like that. What’s better than shouting at the top of your lungs the abbreviated name of the country that you live in? The country that you love? England can’t do it! You can’t have Engy, Engy, Engy! Spain, Russia, Holland, Chile, Brazil – they aren’t abbreviating anything. What’s more patriotic than that? You could argue fairy bread and a Bunnings barbecue, but not much else.

But the Oi?

‘Oi’ is a word you use to tell the bloke on the train that he needs to move across so you can sit down. ‘Oi’ is a word you use when you’re trying to get the attention of a mate to throw him a tinny. ‘Oi’ is a word that convenience store clerks use when they’ve noticed someone sketchy loitering by the chocolate bars. ‘Oi’ is a word you use to separate two children in a scuffle.

‘Oi’ is one syllable.

‘Oi’ is a glorified grunt.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ Is BullshitImage: Getty Images

The chant is inherently tied to sporting events but it just isn’t that inspiring. It’s nowhere near as intimidating as New Zealand’s Haka. It doesn’t come close to the poetry or wit of something like the Barmy Army’s various chants (“he bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that’s Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is shite!”). When Japan’s national soccer team plays they might even break out into ‘Vamos Nippon’ and that incorporates two separate languages!

Meanwhile, Australians grunt like a muzzled seal with strep throat.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

And what of its origins? It started because some hungry workers wanted meat-filled pastries at lunch.

Yes. That’s exactly right.

The chant originated in Britain, in the seaside town of Devonport which opens into the English Channel. At lunchtime, women would come bearing Cornish pasties for the dock workers. The pasties were affectionately known as “hoggan”, or “oggy” for short and so the women who brought the baked goods would chant “Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!” to announce their arrival. The dock workers would reply in kind with “Oi! Oi! Oi!” and thus, our national chant was born.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ Is BullshitImage: Getty Images

It’s come to be synonymous with Southern Cross tattoos and flip-flops and wearing a flag around your neck. It’s a lyrical version of calling every bloke Bruce and every female a sheila.

What a ripper she is Bruce, she’s a bloody top sheila! Scull that beer! Oi! Oi! Oi!

It’s the sound of a footy trip, a bunch of blokes in a foreign bar trying to draw as much attention to the fact the yes, they’re Australians but they’re just a bunch of larrikins looking for a laugh, aren’t they? It’s quintessentially Australian, like Men At Work’s ‘Land Down Under’, except it’s not a great song and the lyrics are nowhere near as delightful.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

We’ve tried to erase it before. In 2012, before the London Olympics, Foxtel tried to supplant the chant by offering a $10,000 prize for anyone who could come up with something better. Germaine Greer wasn’t having any of it. Alas, the competition was run and 22-year-old Anirudh Hattangadi of New South Wales won with a chant that, it seems, even the internet has forgotten. I’ve looked. It can’t be found.

‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ Is BullshitGetty Images

For a brief moment in time, we had something that just may have been able to replace our jingoistic Oi Oi Oi’s.

Now it seems like we’re too far gone. We’re too deep in this mess. We’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of our forebears.

We’re marching towards another Commonwealth Games and all over the Gold Coast we’ll hear the same two words, over and over.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!


    • Haha! Oh no! OP can’t even tell the difference between supporters from various countries.

      NOTE: By the time some of you read khf’s or my post I’d assume the image may have changed but if you want in on the joke they are Swedish supporters – not even wearing green and gold. I’d forgive a photo of Brazilian supporters… at least they wear the same colours…

      • OP didn’t actually put that image in BUT because of how hilarious it is. Let’s leave it there. The Swedes do it better.

      • Yep, this was my doing. Lesson learned: don’t find and upload Getty Images entitled ‘Australian sports fans” on a mobile phone.

    • I think you’ve just won comment of the day. (@chrisjager, someone actually needs to make this an official award.)

      • Cheers for the thumbs-up. Chris Jager deserves some credit too – without his help I wouldn’t have even attempted the joke.

  • Why change it? Because it came from the docks? But doesn’t that represent the Australian ideals? Hardworking people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty when the going gets tough and love a meat-filled (or vege-filled) pastry.
    Because you don’t like the ‘Oi’? The Oxford dictionary defines ‘Oi’ as “Used to attract someone’s attention, especially in a rough or angry way.”, Isn’t that exactly what you want at a sporting event? Rough, tough and angry?
    So it might not be poetic, complex or Pulitzer Prize worthy, but who cares? It’s ours, it’s simple enough that the newest Aussie fresh off the boat with a thick accent or little English can join in and it really does hype up the crowd.
    Now stop trying to reinvent the wheel and go to Bunnings for a snag.

  • Far out, every single time someone tries to show some patriotic spirit there’s a critic who has a whinge that it’s nationalistic, jingoistic, exclusionary, racist, insert whatever negative word is being thrown around that day.

    Do you know why Australians keep shouting Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi? Because we love it for the passion and connection it gives those in the crowd cheering on their fellow compatriots. Because, contrary to your claim that it evokes pictures of Southern Cross tattooed Cronulla rioters, the six word slogan is simple and about as inclusive as you’re going to get (we’re all Australian, woo!). Because, despite all the whining and confected attempts to create a new slogan, it’s a cheer that has arisen organically amongst the crowds and will continue until a better one naturally appears.

    I’ll be shouting Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi! at the top of my lungs each and every time I’m at a sporting event where people from my country are competing, whatever their race, creed or worldview. We’re all Australian, and while you’re welcome to hate every second of the chant, you’re just going to have to suck it up and deal with the fact that you’re in the minority here.

    • Why would you be proud of showing ‘patriotic spirit’? Patriotism is tribalistic and divisive by nature. If you want to be proud of accomplishment, be proud of it for accomplishment’s sake, not because the person who did it happened to live in the same political division you live in.

  • My favorite at most sporting events is “What’s the colour of a two cent piece?”. “Copper, copper”.
    It usually goes hand in hand when someone is being ejected from the crowd for being a nob.

  • It would be great if Australians could come up with a variety of chants. It is especially an embarrassment compared to the Barmy Army…

  • Not even original chant –
    Oggy Oggy Oggy!
    Oi Oi Oi!

    Max Boyce [blah blah blah] Welsh rugby union [blah blah blah] international matches.
    He borrowed it from the Royal Navy’s Devonport Field Gun Team and who knows for sure where they got it from.

    • This, ~25 years ago when i played under 12 soccer our coach taught us this, we use to chant it in the change rooms after a win.
      Oggy Oggy Oggy!
      Oi Oi Oi!

  • Unlike sports hooligans’ current chant of choice, this article went on a lot longer than it needed to.

  • I have to agree. For me, it just makes an Aussie crown sound like a bunch of Boguns. Wouldn’t mind it so much if they dropped the io’s though.

  • It’s basic, crude and has absolutely no originality. It reduces the Aussie to a moronic thug unable to do much more than grunt foolishly. Utterly cringe-worthy, it’s an embarrassment and well past its use by date..

  • It’s like everything else Australian – ripped off from someone else and made shite in the process.

    • Also prefer the Aussie chant over the even more simplistic: U.S.A! U.S.A! repeating three letters over and over is rock bottom

      • A.U.S. A.U.S.

        Pisses off the Americans no end. Especially when you thank them for supporting the best team on earth and imply they are chanting for Aus.

  • Doesn’t the full chant go longer though?

    Aussie Aussie Aussie!
    Oi oi oi!
    Aussie Aussie Aussie!
    Oi oi oi!
    Aussie Aussie Aussie!
    Oi oi oi!

    I like it, but i would love for us to sing Waltzing Matilda too!

  • Flip flops are American. Australians wear pluggers or thongs. Don’t be afraid to say it.

  • Wow got about 1 paragraph in….bored didn’t read. Let me guess the story….someone stole the idea off someone else…..who cares, it is just a bit of fun.

  • Amen Brother Jackson!

    As others have said its not even a traditional chant that we long ago inherited from the mother country.
    Certainly not one I grew up with!

    I do remember clearly the very first time I ever heard those Oi’s that I felt a physical revulsion!

    I quietly refuse to participate whenever I hear it being chanted but I will be most vocal and rebuke those who would dare suggest my patriotism for my country is lacking because I refuse to act like a soccer hooligan.
    (In reality I’m such a wuss that I’ve actually been known to shed a tear at the sight of a kangaroo tail of a Qantas jet in a foreign land or hearing “I still call Australia home” playing in the background)

    The day we replace that chant (or even supplement it with another to dilute its usage) will be a very happy day for me!

  • I don’t agree.
    Aussie x3 oi x3 is the pinnacle of Australian culture.


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