Why Aussie cricket fans are being warned against using the term 'Pom'

·Contributor
·3-min read
With the Ashes fast approaching, England fans have been mentally preparing for a barrage of banter.  (Photo by Matt King - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty Images)
With the Ashes fast approaching, England fans have been mentally preparing for a barrage of banter. (Photo by Matt King - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Frank Salter wants to make one thing clear from the outset.

Personally, he's not offended if you call him a "Pom" or a "Pommy bastard" – as long as it's delivered with a smile.

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But Salter, who heads up the British-Australian Community (BAC), fears the terms will go the same way as many phrases now considered verboten in these more PC/woke times.

As England's cricketers prepare for a warm welcome and salutations from Australian fans around the country, Salter is not so much calling for a ban but restraint from those on the other side of the pickets.

Not so much to protect the "rantee", but the ranter.

"In all such ambiguous terms, there is an ever-present risk of giving offence," Salter told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"It is for that reason, I think, that such nicknames are generally best avoided, especially at a time of "cancel culture" and virtual mob rule on Twitter and other social media.

"For the most part, we believe the terms "Pom" and "Pommy" are often used with some affection by traditional Australians, who are often of Anglo heritage themselves.

"Mostly, therefore, any rivalry denoted by their use is friendly and good-humoured banter.

"However, there are some informal rules that keep the terms positive. They should be accompanied by friendly verbal and non-verbal signals.

"Pom is offensive if spoken in the context of a critical or abusive message or demeanour."

The origins of the term itself have never really been nailed down, but the consensus seems to arrive at Pom either being a shortened version of pomegranate to describe the pasty complexions of our friends from England or an acronym of Prisoner of Mother England from convict times.

Many media outlets already shy away from the term, preferring to err on the side of caution lest their comment section explode with feedback from the outraged.

The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission ruled 'Pom' is not insulting while at the same time acknowledging it could go down that road if used in unison with other less complimentary words.

England fans expecting plenty of banter ahead of Ashes series

Andrew Woodhead is a 35-year-old from Sheffield, in England's north-west, currently working and living in Sydney.

He considers himself a progressive thinking bloke attuned to the changing world and the need to be more considerate

But he will be one disappointed Englishman if the banter is not flying when he attends next week's Adelaide Test with a host of his countrymen.

"That's what sport is all about – the banter and rivalry," he said.

The Barmy Army might not have been able to travel to Australia in full force for the Ashes series, but there will still be English fans out in force. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
The Barmy Army might not have been able to travel to Australia in full force for the Ashes series, but there will still be English fans out in force. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

"We get called Poms and you blokes get called Convicts and everyone has a few beers and a good day out.

"You can call me a Pommy all you want. It's not an offensive term to me but more a term of affection.

"I don't know any Englishman who has a problem with it."

Well, there is - or was - at least one.

David Thomason, who headed up the now seemingly defunct British People Against Racial Discrimination, unsuccessfully tried to have the term banned before the 2006/7 Ashes series.

His case may have been taken a little bit more seriously if he hadn't argued Australians being labelled 'sheep shaggers' was okay but the word 'Poms' stereotyped English people as lacking hygiene.

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