When it comes to jersey designs, the ones that sell the most are often the most simple. Here’s cheers to black and white stripes and a Red V ...


By now you’ve checked out the playing strip that your favourite footy team will be wearing for the winter ahead. So, what’s your verdict? If you’re a Dragons fan or a Collingwood disciple (or an AFL supporter of almost any kind), the element of surprise is non-existent. And that’s a good thing. It is no coincidence that the simplest and most traditional of jersey designs have survived the generations; no matter how much young blood is pumped through these clubs, the black and white, or brown and gold, or that famous Red V, will always be.

The importance of this, as far as fans go, is huge. Just as today’s players enjoy the thrill and honour of wearing the same jersey as a Reg Gasnier or a Peter Daicos, so too supporters are passionate about keeping the club spirit burning by wearing the very colours their beer-swilling ancestors were draped in before the hill they used to stand on became a plush new grandstand.

And then there are the other clubs ... the teams who change outfits as rapidly as Prince or Madonna during a World Tour concert. Again, aside from the odd club merger or a minor redesign – or, in Freo’s case, a complete overhaul – AFL clubs in the main have stuck to their founding strips. HOWEVER ... they are the ones who started all this alternate jersey business in the early 2000s when they began splashing club mascots and psychedelic swirls over their pre-season Cup singlets. Indeed, many Crows fans are still in a flap over the club’s predominately white strip which features three sideways splashes, one for each of the club’s colours. Adelaide isn’t alone here though, with jersey collectors across the codes frothing with excitement over the release of each new Indigenous Round jersey or Anzac Day strip.

What is really quite, yeah, that’s the word, annoying, for a stick-in-the- mud like your author is that the Marvel characters concept of jerseys which has crept into our footies is actually really popular among our younger supporters (shakes head in disbelief while typing).

What seemed like harmless, money-spinning fun a few years back has since spread like the plague, with rugby league clubs the most infected; Penrith is the most terminal case of late. Throughout their history the Panthers have never been afraid of altering their playing strip; in the early ‘90s they went the whole hog and changed their colours, too. They are the polar opposite of your St Georges and Collingwoods, turning up in everything from their liquorice allsorts-inspired jumper, to a TEAL alternate jersey complete with a PURPLE shell-type pattern down the sides, to a PINK strip, which most argue really only works for charity games. In celebration of their 50th season, in 2016 they’ll be honouring their past not in a Chocolate Soldier-inspired Royce Simmons/Brandy Alexander-esque jersey, but one featuring a giant panther jumping through a number 50 ...

Is it any wonder, then, that thousands of supporters quickly signed up to the Red and Black Bloc shortly after the Western Sydney Wanderers’ birth a few years back? Once

they saw that striking red-and-black-banded playing strip, and how striking it looked when thousands of supporters were wearing it whilst jumping up and down in unison, it was only a matter of time before it began flying off coathangers across Western Sydney’s Rebel stores.

It all goes back to that original point – simple is always better when it comes to the popularity of jerseys among fans. The really popular designs are the ones fans keep wearing even during their clubs’ hard times, of which the Dragons, ‘Pies and Wanderers have “enjoyed” their share of in recent times.

A decade or two back there was a theory going around that if you wouldn’t wear your team’s jersey to dinner, it wouldn’t cut it with the modern, fashion-conscious footy supporter. But ultimately what footy fans are looking for in a strip is a piece of clothing that instantly weaves them into a collected history, one in which generations of fans have trudged, drunk and cheered before them.

Not that there’s anything wrong at all with footy fans wearing pink ...