Almanac Books: Introducing…The Footy Jumper Book

Over the past year or so, Tim Rath and I have been collaborating on a project that has taken us across the length and breadth of the land – in Tim’s case literally, in mine mostly via the magic of the internet and phone.

Together we have produced a book that we’re both very proud to say is about to see the light of day: The Footy Jumper Book.

It is exactly what it says – a 192-page tome full of magnificent photos of vintage footy jumpers from across Australia. Not just V/AFL jumpers, and not just state league guernseys. This book features weird colour combinations and unusual designs, as well as the classics – sashes, hoops, stripes, yokes and monograms.

Each jumper has a story behind it, sometimes about the jumper itself, sometimes about the player who wore it.

Collecting these stories has been an educational experience full of fun. In March Tim and I travelled to Ouyen to take photos of jumpers of past Mallee footballing legends like ‘Boozer’ Robertson, Chris Brown and Barney O’Callaghan. With a bit of pub-supplied lubrication, they told some great yarns.



And speaking of yarn, I also spoke to Hugh Lyon, long-time manufacturer of the old woollen footy jumpers, to get a maker’s perspective of the guernseys that mean so much to us, as players or fans.

I also chatted to Don Scott about the one and only time he wore a lace-up jumper in a match, Geoff Southby about Carlton’s ‘World Tour’ in 1972 during which the Blues wore a jumper controversially featuring the Australian Coat of Arms, and ‘Swan’ McKay about why his old mate Bruce Doull bucked the trend and moved to a higher jumper number.

Not every jumper and/or story made the book. For instance Footscray’s Ross Abbey‘s number 30 missed out, as did the great story he told me about changing jumper designs for colour TV in 1975. The players, Ross told me, weren’t bothered by the change in hoop design of the Bulldogs’ jumper, but when they were shown the red shorts they’d be wearing in home games, they burst out laughing in a combination of hilarity and horror. Needless to say, the Dogs reverted to blue shorts a few years later.

Ross’s story might make it to a second volume of The Footy Jumper Book. Tim and I suspect we’ve only scratched the surface of Australia’s footy jumper history and that many more hidden gems – jumpers and stories – will arise from the publication of this book.

As someone who wrote a fair whack of the text in this book – for which Martin Flanagan has kindly written the Foreword – I might be slightly biased, but I highly recommend The Footy Jumper Book as a Christmas gift for your footy mad mates or yourself.

Orders can be placed via Tim’s Sporting Nation website here.


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About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?


  1. I second Gigs’ recommendation of The Footy Jumper Book, folks. Tim Rath and Gigs are jumper junkies, guernsey gurus. (I’m a fraction biased, of course. I came off the interchange bench in the last quarter to do some editing, and am also lucky enough to have a jumper of my father’s included in the book.)

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I hope to be unwrapping mine on Xmas Day.

    Wish I’d kept my lace up Centrals jumper from 1968, that would have been a real treat.

    Well played Tim, Gigs and Vin.

  3. Top stuff Gigs! It looks like a real corker.

  4. Hayden Kelly says

    My order is in looking forward to a good read .

  5. Good luck with it Gigs. Great concept.

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