remembering Yabba – a Sydney Cricket Ground character

Yabba doing his day job, 1932

A rabbit seller and cricket barracker named Stephen Harold Gascoigne (image courtesy of espncricinfo) has an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. He got there on the strength of his vocal ability, his wit and his love of the game.

Sydney Morning Herald – 25 Nov 1932 (see image of text below)

Stephen Gascoigne [is] a “Rabbitoh,” and formerly a bottle oh. “I am the original one and only Yabba, famous in every part of the world”, he said. The Englishmen will make contact with “Yabba” tomorrow. Here is his philosophy: – I’ve been barracking for 45 years, and there’s no harm in it. The men who can’t stand up to it oughtn’t be in the game. It’s a free country, free comment. If we do chiak them a bit, we are always ready to applaud them, and as for the man who is going to show he doesn’t like it – well, it is going to be just too bad for him.

Chiak / chyak – to jeer at, tease, barrack.  (Australian slang) – Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary.

Bottleohs – collectors of used bottles

Rabbitohs – rabbiter, rabbit seller. Also South Sydney Rugby League Club

Photo – Sydney Morning Herald.

Yabba’s sculpture – Cathy Weiszmann.

Some of Yabba’s more famous deliveries (per Wikipedia) include

“I wish you were a statue and I were a pigeon.

“Send ‘im down a piano, see if ‘e can play that!”

“Your length’s lousy but you bowl a good width!” (To an opposition bowler)

Sydney Morning Herald – 9 January 1942

YABBA DEAD – Famous Cricket Barracker

“Yabba,” a famous cricket barracker at the Sydney Cricket Ground, died yesterday at the age of 64 years.  From ‘the hill’ at the Cricket Ground, “Yabba,” who had an excellent knowledge of the game, frequently brightened the proceedings by his sallies and shrewd comments on the play. His stentorian remarks were never hurtful, and even his victims smiled at his witticisms.  “Yabba” was christened Stephen Harold Gascoigne. He was a Boer War veteran.


HT to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable again :  Stentor – The voice of a Stentor – a very loud voice.  Stentor was a Greek herald in the Trojan war.  According to HOME (Iliad, V, 783), his voice was as loud as that of 50 men combined; hence stentorian, loud-voiced.