FOO Was Here

OK, after all the tedious talk about statistical distributions and aligning them to real life, I felt like doing a dumb fun post about the TLAs (three-letter acronyms) that I picked out here, with a bit of historicity. Unlike national ISO or IOC codes, there isn’t really any set schema for how the AFL clubs (or indeed NRL clubs) are labelled in this way. This was bothering me a little bit when I prepared the CSV file for aggregating my tips, since whoever was using them would probably have to do some mapping.

Most media outlets tend to go with abbreviations of two, three or four letters, which for the most part works fine. Things get weirder for the AFL’s official hashtag components, quite often I myself get mixed up between North/Roos or Bombers/Dons and while the AFL would probably make some stupid choices if they moved to the TLA hashtag scheme at least they’d easier to boil down.

But particularly when I started working on this stuff in the early 00s and doing very basic text outputs, the TLAs were where it was at for formatting the tables and whatnot. Consequently, I applied these over to the website when I finally set it up.


Most of the ones I used for the single-word teams are pretty straight forward, – CARlton, COLlingwood, ESSendon, etc.

With the teams I’ve made choices that differ from other outlets, so in this case it’s probably worth an explanation.

BRL obviously stands for Brisbane Lions, to differ them from the Be Right Backs, I mean, the Brisbane Bears. Keeping the L for the Lions is also a bit of a nod to Old Fitzroy, if the business name of the club, the Brisbane Bears Fitzroy Football Club Ltd wasn’t enough. (With respect to the grassroots VAFA club who can be considered the true Fitzroy Football Club these days).

STK for St Kilda, NME for North Melbourne and PAD for Port Adelaide make sense for easy recognition although I note other orgs use other distillations.

WBD is not my preferred abbreviation for the Western Bulldogs, because I would rather they went back to FOOtscray (no, the VFL side doesn’t count) and truly recapture the dignity of the heart of Melbourne’s working-class, multicultural west. Sorry, over 20 years and even a flag later I’m not a fan of the marketing term. Still, the Westerns are what they’re branding themselves as for now, so we’ll roll with it.

For the other Western club, GWS is pretty much a no-brainer of course, although it was interesting to hear some talk about them just going with the Giants branding. GIA would be the most likely option for me. Also probably just as well the archaic Cumberland name wasn’t used because oh dear god.

Their silvertail rivals, the Sydney Swans just get SYD. In my historical files I use SME for the South Melbourne era, consistent with North. (If you’re that interested in the flailing fortunes of the University VFL club, they’re just UNI.)

Finally, the two Coast teams; why do I give the West Coast Eagles get WCE and the Gold Coast Suns get GCO? A couple of reasons; West Coast Eagles is the actual name of the club, the Suns are the Gold Coast Football Club. With the other new team, GCS would’ve been a little close to GWS as well. You see GCO, you know what I’m referring to.


While I’m still developing a system for the Leaguies, I had to start with the abbreviations for those. (Don’t get me started on the jersey banners.)

So, firstly, that Canberra-Canterbury ambiguity. It’s… a pain in the neck. Can’t use truncation, can’t even use the Bankstown part into consideration because they might both be CBA. Eventually I’ve gone with CBR for Canberra (even though there are letters in that order in CanterBuRy too) as the city has done a fair amount of branding using their IATA airport code. For Canterbury, they get CBY – at least there’s no Y in Canberra.

Anyway, that’s the hard part over.

Brisbane get the IATA code BNE. NQL for the North Queensland Cowboys and GCT for the Gold Coast Titans is also clear.

The Senior Men’s XIII of the Cronulla Sutherland District Rugby League Football Club get CRO, which brings to mind cronuts or Crom, the grim-humoured god of Conan’s Hyboria. MANly-Warringah, PARramatta and PENriff get similar treatment as MAN, PAR and PEN. I could possibly do PNR as that scans well too.

St George-Illawarra get SGI; unlike the other double barreled monikers, St George and Illawarra are a merger (or joint venture, as some pretend to call it) so a nod to both is warranted rather than erasing the luckless Steelers with STG.

WTI is probably the best way to render down Wests Tigers; again, another joint venture between Balmain and Western Suburbs (originally referred to Ashfield, not Campbelltown).

NWC for Newcastle and NZW for the New Zealand Warriors separates the two clubs nicely.

The Sydney Roosters get SYR rather than SYD because of that weird period in the ’90s where teams were either calling themselves Sydney or even dropping the locality altogether. Not sure what I’d call them under their true name Easts – maybe ESB for Eastern Suburbs, I think.

Calling back the AFL scheme, I’m going with SSY for Souths, just in case we get the long-lost Crushers back as SQL, as in SQL DROP TEAM Crushers;.


Fortunately the A-League seem to have canonical TLAs for the team names (although I am not sure whether these are officially demarcated or were determined by the broadcaster) so I just went with those.