Alternative Strip – Grow Up

Sunday Morning Coming Down.

Those grey shorts Essendon wore last week reminded me of the ones I used to wear to primary school. Odd looking on an adult. Essendon’s problem is not that it has developed an alternative strip, it is having developed the worst effort at an alternative strip ever seen in any competition anywhere. Essendon’s grey uniform is stupid, in itself, and because it still didn’t look any different to St Kilda’s, and not that different to Port Adelaide. People, inspired by careerist media-nobs, crap on about the good old days, both sides used to play in black on black in the mud, if it was good enough for Haydn Bunton it is good enough for… blah blah blah. Why. This week, away, against Port Adelaide, Essendon wore the Grey Red and Black top and White shorts. Better, in that it clashed less, but somehow crazier in that they could just as easily had an away strip that was both distinctive and attractive.

Let me tell you a secret. At the turn of the last century they didn’t have alternate colour jumpers because they couldn’t afford them – Three decades later, Haydn Bunton Snr. took his own jumper home and washed it and then wore it to the game the next week – gave it back to the club at the season just like junior footy today, and he wore Black shorts at home and White ones away. Economics. He didn’t play at night and there was no television, and it didn’t really matter on the radio, except when commentators got mixed up because on a miserable grey afternoon they couldn’t tell the difference between the jumpers either.

Let me tell you another secret – we have had colour television since 1975. I know, I watched Australia clean up the Windies that summer from the lounge room floor. But it didn’t matter that they were all wearing white because the batsman has a BAT.

Sometimes I think no-one has a clue about what is important about Australian Rules football. What is important is that it is the single greatest cultural differentiator that Australia has. What is not important is the colour of the away jumper Collingwood or Essendon or any other team wears in that comp called the AFL.

If away-Carlton are playing home-Collingwood at night at the MCG, they shouldn’t wear Navy jumpers and white shorts. You know what – it is stupid – in that it doesn’t clash – they all look the bloody same – at the ground let alone on television. Wear that lame pale blue invention if needs be but if that why not something more imaginative – wear a jumper that is a completely different color. Maroon, lime green, whatever – a different color. The matter of fact is that a lot of our clubs jumpers are quite alike. We dont need lame half-baked alternative-strip attempts, and it would be better if we could move away from the insipid white ‘photo negative’ solutions. Just choose a couple of alternative colours.

The real heritage of our game is not just important it is paramount, but that is a different issue. If FC Barcelona, or their ilk, can manage to do whatever is necessary to not look like the home side, then I think we can. And please – no bleating about us being special. Clubs like Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao have fought a civil war in their club colours – real wars in the streets of their towns, in the lifetimes of current day club officials, not a corny AFL Anzac day schmuckfest.

Today still you can’t play for Athletic Bilbao unless you grow up in the Basque country – but they were happy to wear predominantly green, and not their blood baked Red and White, in the 2012 Europa Cup final because as the second qualifier they were away and their colours clashed with the first qualified. This is the the team who plays in the colours of the city where residential suburbs were the target of a General Franco commanded air strike. This bombing was the act of insane brutalism that inspired the Picasso painting ‘The Guernica’ and to this day rivals any of the spellbindingly gross recent civilian atrocities such as those committed by Pol Pot in Cambodia, or the Shining Path in Peru. Wear that in the faux ‘heritage’ world of the AFL.

So spare me the bleeding heart crap, and especially spare me any remote claims over the inviolable  importance of our historically significant time honoured outfits – I mean Emirates name and colour has been on the Pies jumpers since 1892 hasn’t it. No – Really? Any lame claims to being sacrosanct went out the window when the first sponsors name went on a jumper. Today we have mobile billboards plastered over ‘a strip that must not change’. Who do these manipulators think they are kidding.

So let’s be positive about this – don’t align yourselves with pathetic talk-back radio spivs and self-aggrandising club presidents whose number one interest in reality is themselves. Think it through, don’t be an owned mind, let’s grow up and have teams we can tell apart, on TV, or at the game, at a glance.


  1. John Butler says

    I think the Bombers played so poorly against the Saints because they were embarrassed about their visible pantie lines.

  2. Can someone remind me again why we need alternate strips in the first place??
    Is it because those at the game can’t tell the difference between the teams? – or is it the players or the TV viewers? Or is it just an extra revenue stream for the clubs and AFL? It’s all bullshit.

  3. Belford talks so much sense that my head is spinning. I don’t know what to do. Probably easiest to call him UnAustralian and start some sort of mob. You’re UnAustralian, Neil.

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