World Cup captain Mile Jedinaks who plays in the English Premier League, hence most of us non-soccer people didn't know his name either - and it was no surprise to me that our Prime Minister called him Mike rather than Mile.
Soccer is not my thing. To be perfectly honest, should any one ask me to spell some of the surnames of our illustrious multi-million earning Socceroos I'd be hard pressed to do so. The World Cup and the Socceroos is of some interest to me, but not something I would even consider staying up for. Hockey is my passion (author of 5 books on hockey).
But the media went into a frenzy that Prime Minister Tony Abbott called Mile 'Mike' – I rather like the name 'MIKE' for the Socceroos. My son is a soccer man so I texted him before their first World Cup match suggesting that MIKE might be booking an early flight home.
In point of fact, whenever the subject of Soccer comes up, we both know of whom I refer when I mention the name 'MIKE'. It's kind of stuck – the Socceroos are MIKE. Any soccer player is now MIKE.
But names other than your birth name are very common in Australia – we all get nick-names of some description. One of my school buddies still refers to me by my school nick name whenever he Emails.
Sophia Sinclair wrote gingers get nick names: Carrottop / Gingernut (christiantoday.com.au)
Just look at the sporting teams across the nation and their nick names. The women's hockey team are the Hockeyroos. The men's team are the Kookabuarras. The national Rugby League team the Kangaroos, the Rugby Union team the Wallabies. New Zealand is the same – The All Blacks, the Silver Ferns, the Black Sticks to name but three.
Pakistani cricketer of the 70s Miandad was given the name 'Dave' by the Australian cricketers of the era after the traditional Australian cinematic cult figures of early Australia – 'Dad and Dave' – hence Miandad pronounced as "me and dad" - therefore 'Dave' … makes sense to me !
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor and opening batsman is known as 'Tubby' for his physical shape while many a tall man gets the nick name "Stretch" and red haired men get the name "Bluey" - it all makes sense if you understand the prerequisites.
1991 Mark Taylor 'Tubby' with team chaplain Dr Mark Tronson - 'Rev'
My plumber is known as 'Moose' his long established nick name and I'd dare say that only his tax return, his mum, the census and his doctor, would ever refer to him by his birth name.
The Christians was a nick-name
Many may not be aware that it was in Antioch that the early followers of Jesus Christ, originally known as "Followers of the Way" were given the name "Christians" - ie the followers of Christ. A bit like how the Apostle Paul writing to the Christians in the City of Corinth wrote to the "Corinthians".
Politicians get nick names, business and corporate leaders get them, school teachers get them, even preachers get them. The late Reverend F P McMaster MBE of Canberra Baptist Church (my mentor, a remarkable man of God) was given a nick name by his fellow Baptist minister peers, "The Bishop". Baptists are non-conformists without church hierarchy but if you'd every read Animal Farm by George Orwell you'd be aware that some are more equal than others.
Immigrant children learn very quickly that getting a nick-name is the means by which in the Australian culture you're somehow recognised as being part of the group. It's a kind of an initiation. One of our young writers who is from China was given the name 'Oscar' and its stuck - even his articles are by-lined with Oscar.
Chinese young writer nick named 'Oscar'
Basil Sellers Sport-Art Prize
The bi-annual Basil Sellers Sport-Art Prize $100,000 – 2012 winner Jon Campbell art work titled "Dream Team" was a depiction of sporting nick names.
This year's Basil Sellers Sport-Art Prize grand opening is on Friday 25 July at the Ian Potter Museum of Art (Melbourne University) followed by a three month exhibition. (www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au)
So when our Prime Minister wishes the Socceroos the very best and sends Mike and the team the very best, in some way, they have come of age, it's a step up into the mainstream of the mainstream. Well done MIKE!
But how about it MIKE, get over to Brazil the Kookaburra Coach Ric Charlesworth whose team demolished the Dutch 6-1 in the World Cup Hockey Final on Sunday (in Holland). Now there's an idea MIKE!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html