Almanac Book Review: ‘The Footy Jumper Book’ by Tim Rath and Andrew Gigacz


The Footy Jumper Book will be launched at a lunch featuring the authors along with a panel – Swan McKay, Hughie Mitchell and John Birt – at the North Fitzroy Arms on Friday, May 19. Details HERE.





I have always been of the belief that Australian rules football has not been as well served as it deserves to have been, given the game’s rich history, its issues, and the people who have made our game so popular. Sports such as cricket, and the major American codes, have libraries of tomes devoted to them. It has been a source of curiosity to me; I recall the thrill of reading John Powers’ seminal The Coach (in recent years republished by Slattery Media) in the late 1970s and wondering why there were not other books talking about our local game.


However, in the past few years, this has begun to change. Chip Le Grand’s The Straight Dope and Michael Warner’s The Boys Club are recent examples of books which have delved into issues affecting the game, while Dan Eddy’s A Football Genius (The Peter Hudson Story) is an excellent exploration of Huddo’s life story. It is also becoming more common these days that no champion’s retirement is complete without an accompanying biography.


To footy’s expanding canon, we can now add The Footy Jumper Book, a deep dive into the guernseys which are such a prominent feature of our game. On my initial flick through the pages, I was immediately struck by the riot of colours, so beautifully reproduced on the pages. Tim Rath and Andrew Gigacz have produced a detailed and gorgeously presented book which has quite obviously been a labour of love. And let’s face it, which supporter of Australian rules football – be it at the elite or local level – does not have an attachment of some sort to the jersey of the club which they support?


Guernsey numbers have long been a source of fascination and debate to football followers, and in a nod to their place in the game, the book is loosely structured along a numerical theme, commencing with number 1, all the way through to number 40, and a chapter containing ‘high numbered jumpers’ in between. The pages are a parade of jumpers both familiar (Schimma’s North #20) and rare (David Parkin’s 1950s Associated High Schools jumper). On one page we are witness to the fading cuffs and collars of a mid-60s Bendigo Football League representative jumper, on another there is the much-derided Brisbane Bears 1987 jumper, labelled by player Matthew Campbell as ‘one of the worst.’


The stories accompanying the guernseys make for fascinating reading. Representative jumpers, lace-up jumpers, controversial jumpers (such as Geoff Southby’s 1972 Carlton ‘world tour’ jumper), and premiership jumpers complete with the signatures of the entire team. There are also many personal recollections, such as those of the Geelong footballing family the Rankins. The historic jumpers associated with this family are a sight to behold.


The list of contributors who jumped aboard this project of passion is lengthy, and there are many familiar football names who were only too happy to contribute both their jumpers and reflections. It would appear that it was not only the authors who believed that this book would be a valuable addition to the ever-growing library of Australian football. It is difficult to believe that anyone who picks up this wonderful book would not think the same.



The Footy Jumper Book will be launched at a lunch featuring the authors along with a panel – Swan McKay, Hughie Mitchell and John Birt – at the North Fitzroy Arms on Friday, May 19. Details HERE.


You can read more from Smokie HERE



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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says


  2. Look forward to the lunch Smoke and hearing the book’s tale. There’s always a story.

  3. Roger Lowrey says

    The reference to the fading colours and cuffs of the 1960s brings to mind the Polwarth League inter-league colours of royal blue with gold sash, colours and cuffs/shoulders.

    Western Plains League opponents for away games at Cressy and other such parts wore totally forgettable colours that modern social media zealots would probably now think were “cool”.


  4. Hayden Kelly says

    I bought the book on release it’s a great read . I was intrigued before I got it as to the jumper on the front cover and where had I seen that jumper as a kid . Bob Leathers coached Culgoa to a rare flag in now defunct Tyrell League . Culgoa along with Berriwillock and Nandaly have morphed into Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers in the North Central League .
    Why did I recall that jumper ? because my uncle Jack Gaylor who i think played in that team often wore a faded Culgoa jumper on the farm .
    Small world I came to Melbourne and signed to play with West Footscray . Two retired players who made me welcome were Bob and Graham[ Zulu ] Leathers both had left West to play for Culgoa for a couple of years and returned to West . Bob was a butcher and said the Culgoa offer was just too good to refuse as apart from the wage the town needed a butcher as the local butcher was retiring .

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