By Phil Hecken and Jeremy Brahm
[After a brief hiatus, UW Pacific Rim Correspondent Jeremy Brahm is back today to bring to us a look at a sport which doesn’t get a lot of play on Uni Watch: Australian Rules Football. I got my first taste of this sport in the nascent days of ESPN, back before No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em was featured in primetime, and well…”Prime Time” still hadn’t played a down in the NFL (or an inning for the Yankees). While I admit I never quite understood the sport, being a cross between American football and rugby in my mind, I did enjoy watching it whenever it was on the telly. And they’ve got some really cool uniforms too. That’s where Jeremy comes in. So, without further ado, let’s take an in-depth look as this fascinating sport which receives little or no airtime anymore in the United States (although that may be changing), but which is quite popular elsewhere. Enjoy! — Phil]
As a youngster who first got cable in 1981, ESPN at that time was a wonder because you always got something new on the television that you may have never seen before, even not on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. A number of the readers asked about Australian rules football uniforms (call them guernseys or jumpers, mate) in June after a posting about the striped socks for one of the teams. But who can forget the goal umpire lab coats and hats. Sadly, now they look like the regular officials, except that they get to wear a hat and pants. They still wave the flags though.
Today, I’ll give you a bit of the history and we’ll have a look the Australian Football League and their clubs. I want to give a big thanks to Rob Meredith and his website, footyjumpers.com and Wikipedia.
The Australian Football League (AFL) actually dates back to 1896, when eight clubs broke away from the Victorian (State) Football Association, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, St. Kilda and South Melbourne (now Sydney Swans). In 1897, the Victorian Football League (VFL) was created. These teams were all around the Victoria state and centered on Melbourne and its suburbs.
In 1908, Richmond and University were expansion team, but by 1915 University had disbanded and left the league with 9 teams. In 1925, Footscray (now Western Bulldogs), Hawthorn and North Melbourne joined the league and these 12 teams would all remain in their current location and a part of the league until 1982.
After the 1981 season, the South Melbourne Football Club moved to Sydney and became the Sydney Swans. You can see the old Victorian Football League logo here and on the body of the swan. With the Swans move, the VFL had become an interstate competition because Sydney is in New South Wales.
In 1990, the league was renamed the Australian Football League. The league further expanded to Fremantle, two teams in Adelaide (Port Adelaide and the Adelaide Crows) to the current 16 teams, which included the merger of the Brisbane Bears with Fitzroy to become the Brisbane Lions.
In 1999 the AFL instituted away or “clash” uniforms. This was due to the fact that some teams have similar designs or colors for their uniforms. Such as Essendon and Richmond, Essendon and Carlton, North Melbourne and Geelong, North Melbourne and Collingwood, Collingwood and Geelong, Melbourne and Essendon, and Melbourne and Carlton.
Previously teams would wear white shorts to differentiate themselves (look at those photos again and you will see it). Now these alternate designs have made it easier for players, officials and fans to differentiate to the teams. (But for the most part the team’s jumpers have not really changed that much, over the years.) And now for the teams:
Adelaide Crows, based in Adelaide, South Australia. The Crows’ colors are navy blue, red and gold. Their navy blue can appear to be black with the light hitting it (2008 model). This year’s primary uniform (home) looks almost exactly the same from the front, except for the lack of the black side panels to the bottom and the gold sleeve and collar cuffs. Also they are known to wear striped socks. Their clash model for this past season uses the crow as a centerpiece with yellow and red panels accenting the bird’s shape. The Crows have a new logo and the 2010 clash uniform is white with a “fierce” crow.
Brisbane Lions, based in Brisbane, Queensland, the Lions are the combination of the Fitzroy Lions and Brisbane Bears in 1996 and started play in the 1997 season. The uniform colors have both teams history, maroon (Brisbane Bears), blue (Fitzroy) and gold (both teams). Fitzroy was based in Victoria state and when the Lions play games there, they adopt a red, gold and blue color scheme, which was Fitzroy’s color scheme. You can see on the back of the uniform, BBFFC or Brisbane Bears Fitzroy Football Club. Their current primary uniform looks like it has over the years, but just with a change in the collar. The Lions just changed their logo to this. And here are their uniforms for 2010.
Carlton Blues, based in Melbourne, Victoria and are known for having an interlocking C (Carlton), F (Football) and C (Club) on their chest in white. Their clash jumper is white with dark blue side panels and the interlocking logo in dark blue as well. Both looks to me are classics because they are very simple, but distinct with the chest logo. They also wore a “Livestrong” special in July this past season.
Collingwood Magpies, based in Melbourne, Victoria. Collingwood earned their nickname because of their white and black stripes that mirrored that of a magpie. Their primary uniform and clash uniform are mirror images. The primary uniform is more black, while the clash is more white. Surprisingly the Magpies do not wear striped socks. I would like to see a different design for the clash uniform just so that it is very “different”. Like this one from 2002. Even Collingwood and Carlton have had problems with the similar uniforms in the past.
Essendon Bombers, based in Melbourne, Victoria, have always had a red sash from the left shoulder to the right hip on their black tops and striped socks. Their clash uniform looks similar, only with a wider sash as a diagonal line. What is funny though is that when they face Richmond, similar design but with a yellow sash, they have to write a letter to the AFL says that Richmond’s uniform clashes. Maybe they could wear a white uniform with a red sash?
Fremantle, based in Fremantle, Western Australia, have a purple, red and green color scheme. Paul would think that it would look horrible, but the primary uniform looks pretty decent because the white anchor separates the other three colors. But the back looks weird with the red and green sections stopping so high. If they went all purple on the back, that would have been fine. The clash uniform is white with a purple anchor. Very simple, but keeps the anchor the same as the primary, just in a different color. Originally the nickname of the team was the Dockers but Levi Strauss & Co. challenged the club because of their Dockers brand (now not a part of Levi Strauss). After the 1997 season, Dockers was dropped officially, but it still an unofficial nickname from the fans.
Geelong Cats, based in Geelong, a suburb southwest of Melbourne, are known for their navy blue vertical lines (hoops) on a white uniform. Their primary uniform is similar to their historical colors. Also the Cats have worn striped socks. But with an introduction of a new logo in 2008, the Cats made their clash uniform look like their logo. I really like this clash look because it is a majority color and the graphic looks cool. For the 150th anniversary of the team, created in 1859, Geelong wore a special jumper with the names of all of its players, in all years, for the Round 16 game on July 18th, 2009.
Hawthorn Hawks, based in Melbourne, Victoria, are known for their yellow and brown vertically striped uniforms. Sometimes the Hawks wear striped socks as well. Their clash uniform is based on their team logo, but with little yellow in the design. Personally I am not a fan of the yellow and brown color scheme and prefer the clash uniform to the primary strip.
Melbourne Demons are known for having a navy blue base with a red V yoke for their primary uniform. This year (2009) the Demons have introduced a red clash uniform with the secondary Demon logo, in navy blue. I like the look, which is much better than their clash uniform from 2008.
North Melbourne Kangaroos are known for their royal blue and white vertical stripes. The clash uniform that they are using has been called “Argentina stripes” for good reason. Still not as bad as this one in 2000 as a one off with Orange cellular service. For their regular uniform in 2000, just change the orange to the light blue and there you go.
Port Adelaide Power, based in Adelaide, South Australia have a white, silver, black and teal color scheme. Can anyone say San Jose Sharks? The primary uniform is well atrocious, teal chest, black torso, frazzled white and black lines. Hell this clash uniform from 2003 looks better than what their primary uniform looks like. The 1870 on the back of the neck is when the team was created (as a club, not when they entered the AFL which was in 1997). Their current clash uniform in white with a sash-like teal and black looks nice. The all teal back could be better in white with teal numbers. This week the Power announced complete change in their jumper designs, an instant classic and they are designed by a 7-year old, brilliant!
Richmond Tigers, based in Melbourne, Victoria, are known for their black uniform with a yellow sash from the left shoulder to the right hip. The clash uniform had additional yellow side panels. They could do a white clash uniform with a yellow sash couldn’t they?
St. Kilda Saints, based in Melbourne, Victoria are one of the hard luck teams in AFL history with only one premiership (Grand Final win) in 1966 and one of the few teams in the world that have had a stick figure for their mascot. The Saints have a red, white and black color scheme, that is shown in three panels for their primary uniform and even three colored striped socks!! Their clash uniform has a wide white panel and a white back to make white the predominant color for the uniform.
Sydney Swans are the only team in New South Wales, have a white base with a red V yoke with the outline of the Sydney Opera House at the bottom of the V. The Swans also wear striped socks. Furthermore, on the back of the uniform, you see SMFC for South Melbourne Football Club, which was where the team was based before moving to Sydney.
West Coast Eagles, based in Perth, Western Australia, have a navy blue, white and gold color scheme. The Eagles have a three panel primary uniform with the Eagle head logo in the center of the chest. I would prefer that the entire logo be outlined in white because the back gets lost in the navy blue. Their clash uniform is based on their original home uniform, with white additions but with the current Eagle head logo. This week I found that the Eagles had changed their clash jumper for the 2010 season. Don’t these look similar to the clash jumpers of Adelaide?
Last is the Western Bulldogs, based in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. The Bulldogs have a red, white and blue color scheme. In Western’s previous history as the Footscray Bulldogs, had a history of blue top with a wide red horizontal stripe outlined with white lines. Western has continued the look with its primary uniform, but added the Bulldog head on the bottom white line. The bulldog’s ear is outlined in red, while the line to its eyes is blue, where the line comes from. I would like to see a blue or red outline for the numbers on the back, instead of this. Also notice the FFC for Footscray Football Club. The Bulldogs’ clash uniform is white based, with a red horizontal line and a blue horizontal line and the Bulldog head logo in the middle. The back does have an outline in white on the horizontal lines. I like how the logo is incorporated into the uniform on both primary and clash versions.
Also Australian Football from time to time has some special events and special uniforms, such as the Indigenous All-Stars team, with a boomerang and almost even a smiling face with the logos looking like eyes. And a Legends match from 2007.
Now with ESPN’s agreement with the AFL, you can watch the AFL again on television without a pay-per-view subscription. So sit back, put a shrimp on the barby and toast a Fosters to the truly Australian game.
Phil here. Thanks Jeremy, for that fascinating look footy down under.
Best Uni Your Team Ever Wore? Good question…in fact an excellent question.
If you didn’t catch Thursday’s comment thread, you may have missed this little ditty from Beardface:
You know what would be a fun project… Coming up with a list of the best possible uniform for each team in the NFL. Use any uniform in their past and choose the best one. now, of course, you’d have teams like Carolina where you have the default, but that would be a fun project, don’t you think?
A couple people played along, but this thought never generated any real legs. But it’s actually a great suggestion for a project. Only, instead of limiting it to the NFL, lets include all the major sports. OK, hockey too. So, in the comments below, think of your favorite team in each sport and think back (or, forward) on what was the greatest uniform set that team ever had. Is it the current one? Or is it something from way back when? Let’s see what we can come up with. To get this started, we had two suggestions from Thursday I’ll repost here as examples of the best uni set a team ever wore: Saints and Lions. Gotta say, those are both gorgeous unis — and likely great candidates for the best uni set a team has ever worn.
What say you, readers? Pick a sport and post a pic (or if you can’t figure out how to post a link), describe the year(s) a team wore a certain style of uniform.
Kudos to Beardface for the suggestion!
UNI WATCH WINTER CLASSIC ADVISORY!!!
As many of you are aware, but the rest of you are not…Ricko and Teebz are in the process of organizing what they’re calling the “Winter Classic” — and they’re hoping to turn it into what could be a really really fun event for any and all interested Uni Watchers. I’ll let Rick describe it:
Even as we speak, Teebz (he of Winnipeg and “Hockey Blog In Canada”) and I (Ricko) are beginning plans for the first Uni Watch Winter Classic, a gathering here in the Twin Cities in January.
Paul may attend. He’s discussing covering Pond Hockey and other things with ESPN. I’m helping him with a list of “story possibilities,” including an interview with Ray Crump, who purportedly fashioned the first flapped batting helmet, for Earl Battey of the Twins (Crump owns a souvenir shop/baseball museum kitty corner from the Metrodome). Perhaps the Vintage Minnesota Hockey Jerseys folks? Maybe some curling?
· We’re talking January 22-23-24, 2009 to be precise, during which not one, but TWO Pond Hockey Championships are scheduled.
· U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis near Mall of America.
· North American Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Minnetonka, in a far western suburb.
· Saturday the 23rd is “Hockey Day in Minnesota”
· Minnesota Wild versus Detroit Red Wings, Thursday the 21st at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center. Wild is a tough ticket.
· Minnesota Timberwolves versus New Orleans Hornets (not, unfortunately, in their Mardi Gras unis), Friday the 22nd at Minneapolis Target Center. Special on tickets, $20, including some kind of vintage t-shirt.
· Wild versus Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday the 23rd at the “X” with “Hockey Day in Minnesota” patch giveaway. Not as tough as Thursday’s Red Wings game, but still tough.
· Possibility of NFC Championship at Metrodome that weekend (said “possibility,” lol). Tickets pretty much impossible but we could tailgate.
Teebz can’t get any info on hotel group rates until we have some idea of how many rooms we’ll need. The best bet now is that we’ll focus on the Lake Nokomis Tournament. It’s older, has more rinks and teams, and is a bit more whimsical, perhaps. Plenty of places to eat in the neighborhood, including a pair of “joints” that claim the Juicy Lucy as their signature entree and another with fabulous pizza.
Lodgings would then likely be in the area of the airport./Mall of America. That means easy light rail connections to the airport, the mall and downtown (Target Center for ‘Wolves and Metrodome).
When the time comes, either Teebz and I can handle rooms and tickets through our PayPal accounts.
So far we have half dozen or so locals committed, plus Teebz and rpm (Robert Marshall) from out-of-town, and Phil is working on ways to leverage some of his inheritance early so that he can swing it, too.
For now, we’d like some feel for who would be interested. Any more form Chicago? Wisconsin? Hey, it’s Teebz, Grand Poobah of the UW Hockey Wing, and with any luck, the creative Mr. Marshall, Phil, and maybe even our Fearless Leader/Founder.
So post if you’re interested… email me and I or Teebz will be in touch.
Looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible,
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: Back to baseball today. This latest scoreboard comes from reader Nicholas Law. Another from the way back machine. As always, please DO NOT post the actual game score in the comments, but instead post a link to it. Date, location and final score please. Guess The Game. And if you want to keep this going through the fall, please send me some new scoreboards! Drop me a line. Thanks!
Ricko’s got the “explainin'” on this one. Here’s Rick: “Ah, Saturday. Settling in for a marathon of Nike self-promotion on the tube. Still, though, life is good. And, despite the occasional communications breakdown, we survive to soak it all in. Getting soaked may be important for UWers today. ‘Gosh, Mr. Tebow, part of you is all “scaley.” The heartbreak of psoriasis?'” Thanks Rick. Enjoy your Saturday Benchies
OK, that’s gonna do it for today. Obviously, I didn’t get to the Clarksville Design-A-Uniform contest entries in time for this weekend, but I will have a lot of time this coming week to get to those — so all of you who sent me your submissions, they’re coming. Lots of college football, with riflery games aplenty today. Lets see if those superhero costumes Nike is outfitting their top programs with perform as well as they are hyping them. Don’t forget to post your suggestions for “best uni matchups” in the comments for Jimmy Vilk, (or your worst, as the case may be), and lets have your suggestions for your favorite teams “best uniform look” in their uniform history. Everyone have a great Saturday!