At times, the Australian Open has been tough to watch this week.
It seems that just about every time an Aussie turns out, so do the canary-yellow Fanatics and the new courtside kids, ‘We The People’, as they sing, thump and chant from the same silly songbook.
Thankfully, Australia has few players worth a pinch these days, and it’s unlikely we’ll still be hearing these fans at the back end of next week.
Then we can watch the tennis in peace. And we won’t have to suffer ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi’ and other simple-minded ditties.
Over the years, the bogans have made that chant their own.
Though less audible than it once was, it is still a go-to number in their songbook.
The Open – or a day at the cricket – without a chorus of ‘Ois’ would be like listening to Daryl Braithwaite without hearing ‘The Horses’.
Draped in green and gold, or the Australian flag, the bogans have given it their best shot this week – not that it made a difference.
They could not rouse the Hunchback of HiSense Arena, Nick Kyrgios, or the many other Aussies bundled out, to borrow a tennis term, in rounds one and two.
The ‘Oi’ song has a sinister side, too.
It was the chant of choice for the 2005 Cronulla rioters who reclaimed their so-called beach draped in the flag.
It has since become the war cry of far-right groups and other knuckle-duster nationalists.
But it’s not even an Aussie original. Like most of our culture, we ripped it off from the Brits.
The original was ‘Oggy, Oggy, Oggy, Oi, Oi, Oi’ and used to sell pasties – or Oggies’ – in Devon, England.
The women sellers shouted ‘Oggy’ and the men would ‘Oi’ if they wanted one.
By the 1970s, it was heard on English soccer and rugby terraces. At Chelsea, it was customised to ‘Ossie, Ossie, Ossie, Oi, Oi, Oi’ – sung about the club’s star striker, Peter Osgood.
Ossie then became Aussie, as we got our hands on it, and we had a national chant to rival that anti-authoritarian echo from our convict past of ‘you’re going home in the back of a divvy van’.
At this year’s Open, the songbook includes the ever-popular one-worder, ‘Ole’, and ‘we’re gonna have a party’.
Oddly, some visiting players don’t see the funny side.
During his first-round defeat against Australian youngster, Jordan Thompson, Portugal’s Joao Sousa asked the bogans to show the players some respect.
What a curmudgeon!
As if they weren’t annoying enough, there’s another side to this outpouring of nationalistic nonsense.
The Fanatics and We The People are brands – not movements.
The Fanatics is a sports tour and party events company with offices in Sydney and London who exploit simplistic nationalism to flog their products.
Trading under Fanatics Sports and Party Tours, the company also sells a range of clothing – in yellow of course – that is described as ‘genuine pulling gear’.
According to the company’s website, wearing the Fanatics line of clothing “guarantee [s] one thing – you will no longer be perceived as repulsive by the opposite sex.”
We The People are also a sports tour, travel and party company operating in Australia and the United States.
This is the company’s first Australian Open, so you might not have heard of them yet, but they’ve been getting plenty of free promotion.
Every time the cameras pan to the bogans in white shirts, they get a free plug.
The company sold seven-day packages to the Open. Included were a supporter hat and shirt with ‘We The People’ scrawled across it, and ‘the chant sheet’.
To ensure everyone’s on-song, the group rehearses each day’s chants before heading to the Open.
The more they sing, chant and thump throughout the day, the greater the company’s exposure.
This is why the bogans have blossomed at the Open.
Thankfully, they’ll all be going home soon.
Dr Tom Heenan teaches sports studies at Monash University.