Old Woollen Footy Jumpers – Adelaide University (The Blacks): Swish Schwerdt

The Blacks - Circa 1982

The Blacks – Circa 1982

Nudge Nudge

Nudge Nudge


BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is the scourge of modern IT departments.

But at the Adelaide University Football Club (The Blacks) in 1982, BYOJ (Buy Your Own Jumper) was the innovative solution to the problem of ensuring that each week, the club’s 200 players had a clean, crisply ironed, neatly numbered symbol of his representation of over 75 years of amateur football at its most pure. Or at least, a jumper.

My first year of senior football was spent at the then waning Ingle Farm Bulldogs, who wore bottle green and white stripes in the now defunct SAFA. It wasn’t a bad club and it was well coached by former North Adelaide hard-man Maurie Francou. I didn’t really fit in (perhaps I didn’t want to), despite managing to finish off the season in the magoos after starting in the C Grade alongside veterans such as Jeff Pike, father of Martin.

In early 1982, having decided to keep playing footy, I was looking for a place to play. I didn’t play footy during my uni years, instead playing winter baseball. The only thing that I knew about The Adelaide Uni Blacks was that they had lots of teams, so I thought that my chances of finding a spot in a level that matched my lack of ability would be higher than in a suburban club with a couple of teams.

I rang the Sports Association, who gave me the number of the Secretary, a Dave Bartlett. The first four digits of the phone number were the same as my work phone, which told me that this Bartlett joker might also work at the Highways Department monolith in leafy Walkerville.

Better than that, the man known universally as Barty worked on the same floor as me, but us Cost Accountants didn’t have a lot to do with his Drainage Engineers, so I had never met him before. We convened near the lifts, just next to the communal ashtray, and I outlined my vast footy c.v., ignorant of the fact that Barty was Blacks royalty. (He went on to play 343 games for the Blacks and achieved Life Membership later on that year. I bet he was honoured to make my acquaintance, but he kept it to himself if he was).

My first few Blacks training sessions were held at beautiful Uni Oval. It was a footballing joy to take part in coach Weatherald’s circle work (‘kick to the leg’) running around with AUFC legends such as Egils ‘The Latvian Warhead’ Olekalns and Brenton ‘Nose’ Eckert.

After training I was told to meet with Fred ‘Chocka’ Bloch to sort out registration and clearance details. In the background were long-serving club trainer Frank ‘Sandy’ Cockburn and Tony ‘Ox’ Ravesi, speaking in tongues reminiscent of those found on my recently purchased “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” by David Byrne and Brian Eno.

Chocka asked me what number I wanted to have. Quick as a flash I asked for ’69’, as this was the number issued to me as an Under 13 at the Central District Baseball Club, although its continental, horizontal implications eluded me at that stage. It was only a few years later that I understood the joke about the Frenchman who fell asleep as soon as his feet hit the pillow.

After that, Chocka explained that I would have to purchase my own jumper, which I should be able to pick up around the traps. Adelaide’s main sport stores in 1982 were Ebert and Weston (nee Motley and Ebert, nee Motley and Greer) or Rowe and Jarman, but I first chanced upon a Blacks jumper in the unlikely spot of John Martins sports goods section. Not knowing any better, I took it straight away, along with the required foam padded digits in a size small enough to fit on my puny 60kg frame.

This childs size 14 Sekem brand jumper was slightly different from those of my teammates, its “V” was narrower but deeper than most and it had a superfluous collar. To this day, I am not sure of its textilic content as that part of the tag is now as shrivelled and faded as its owner’s manhood, but I am prepared to present it as being both “old” and (possibly) “woollen”.

Mum cursed my selection of number, it was a bugger to sew on. Of course, many of my teammates had flown the familial coop, and settled for numbers such as 1 or 11 or 111, often applied on match day with a creative application of elastoplast.

I went on to wear this specimen around 120 times from 1982-89, never managing to get it dirty once. It has only been in recent years that I’ve re-entered the Blacks fold on a regular basis (Rulebook found my phone number) and each year I look forward to the Greys (past players) Melbourne lunch, seeing my perceived ability increase annually like the wonders of compound interest.

Almost everything that is said about the Blacks is true, once a Black always a Black.

And yes, I did actually play alongside Bob Neil.

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. ‘Swish’ I also wore the #69 in my first season at The Deakin Uni Sharks. Hell of a load to bear for a debutante.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Loved it Swish funny I do remember now the jumper was slightly different amusing that you worked with , Barty and while slightly different today the essence is the same . Go Blacks see you Sunday Aug 3 Swish ( Harmsy is guest speaker every 1 welcome ) Details will be on the site

  3. Lovely work Swish. Likewise I had no appreciation for the sewing intricacies of 36, but at that time my dear old granny was still around and I don’t reckon I heard her complain once. About anything. Personally I couldn’t resist the lace-up. Just like Ebert, Bagshaw & the incomparable Robran. Can’t believe I left it – to be wantonly discarded – in my bottom drawer as I beat a hasty retreat in 05 taking only my bike, a couple of books and what remained of my self-respect.

  4. Delighted to have the Blacks jumper on the site. Even more delighted that it is not a Blacks standard issue. Loving discussion about sewing. Captain SAPSASA must have a bottom draw full of woollen jumpers. I’ll get onto him.

  5. Love your work Swish. I still have my one and only Uni jumper – yes it is woollen – or a derivative thereof – and the foam numbers are still in tact. Agree that the selection of numbers is problematic as I recall that sewing the number 65 onto my jumper also took some exquisite sewing skills from yours truly. If I recollect accurately it occurred over several nights and given my poor eyesight may not be in the middle of the jumper nor completely in alignment!
    When my son Jack played his first (and as it turned out ONLY – a story for another day me thinks) A1 game for the Blacks in round 1 this year I offered him the original no. 65 to wear. Of course said offer was rejected forthwith – and he wore a reversible, water resistant, sublimated (whatever that means) jumper that weighed about the same as the hand -sewn-on AUFC “First XV111” logo on the original jumper, circa 1986.
    Daddsy – I think I remember that lace-up – surely it was specifically mentioned in settlement negotiations – i.e. the kids, the house, the AUFC lace up (not necessarily in that order!).

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    The story of Rattling Rob Read whose mum supposedly sowed the number on back to front so the words from the umpire your on the mark seven three one became a part of blacks folk lore

  7. Nice yarn. How can a collar on a footy jumper be superfluous? The Almanac Sewing Club will be convening soon.

  8. Loved this – I still wear (on occassion) #206 purchased in 1992 from god knows where and have never worn another jumper for Uni in 20 odd years. The jumper has played probably another 25 games than me when worn by players who lack the attention to detail to bring a jumper to the game. I wash it religously and despite some hard tackles (that’s me being tackled hard) its in immaculate condition. I had to drop a ‘0’ after a stint in the Riverland hen Cocka re allocated my number to Byron Barlett and then again when I went oversees but Ive always reclaimed it. Incidentally I added a dash in place of the “0” so it read #2_6, when your the team manager you get these perks. I have always been envious of the lace ups though – Ra Ra Magrath and more recently father son legend Sam Paker. But I am if nothing else loyal to the jumper.

  9. Gerry Both says

    I don’t know you from Adam Swish but I enjoyed your article which reminded me that I still have my woollen long sleeved Blacks jumper from the 1967-72 era. The original number 136 is still attached although the 3 is tattered. It saw service in the A2res through to A1’s during the “golden era” of the Blacks. What is more amazing is that apart from being scratchy, it still fits!!!

  10. Super Dazz says

    Great story Swish.
    I to also have to admit to some lace-up envy and Dadsy if only i know which draw it was in I might have broken in and saved it. Sadly though it would never have fitted my ample frame without resembling more of a blacks corset.
    Gurnseys do take on a life of thier own over time. My first pastel white V on black was emblazoned with 259 which also gave my mother the shits sowing on. Although this was more attributed to a general dislike of football as sowing was somewhat of a passion. That gurnsey became one of her most hated family rellics as mum was called upon to sew it up the side on several occasions. Im blaming a general lack of structural integrity rather than my own lack of ability to avoid tackles or ability to control my expanding girth over the years. The “2” fell of after a few years and I thought it would be pushing my luck to get mum to replace it, so the left over 59 was quite lopsided. I considered it added character, but it never translated into votes. I think I got a couple of hundred games out of that gurnsey and it was looking very sad and stretched by the time I eventually forced it to the back of the wardrobe. Im pretty sure it was woolen.
    My appreciation for it was never greater than early next season when its replacement a nylon/polyester creation of pure evil turned cheese grater at every opportunity. The addition of sweat just meant it stung even more. Im not really a fan of the new gurnseys nowadays as they rarely seem to fit the larger gentleman properly and I get nightmares about the Michelain Man. It even briefly made me review my policy on cuddlier girls wearing muffin top leggings, so now for everyones benifit I no longer wear my gurnsey to the shops. Indirectly my experience with the Adelaide University gurnsey has made the world a better place. Who would have thought!

  11. David Meegan says

    Congratulations gentlemen. Tears welling in the eyes as I read. I too had said semi-woollen guersney. But like like JC, I was betrayed by a close associate, I was. Ra swindled the beautiful ( and I beleive now retired) number 261 from me, lent it to his brother’s mate’s cousin and it was never seen again. A part of me died that day. I did find the 1989 GF budget though in papers at home the other day when that TV Show “my Crazy Obession” came through asking all those pesky questions about hoarding.
    RA is a bad person.

  12. Gerry, photo and story please.

  13. Got to have a photo of that.

  14. Dr Goatboat says

    Gerry Both…your gurnsey never fitted then!!

  15. Eddie Dadds says

    Breaking News… The old man’s lace up 36 jumper has just been found! An hour of sifting through dirty old clothes but the end result completely worth it. Robran, Ebert, Bagshaw… Dadds?

  16. Oh joy of joys! I look forward to a big, smelly, mothy hug shortly. Thanks Ed, Swish, Almanac, Universe. Excuse me, I have to weep. I wonder if there’s anything left of the erstwhile joint marital wine stash? Ed?

  17. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Swish, love the blacks jumper. Glad you eventually worked out the “continental, horizontal implications” of that number!!

  18. rabid dog says

    Brilliant story. I had a lace up (go Daddsy!), number 27 – played a few games in it in 1127/1271/2711 etc) with number clashes – thank God for Elastoplast. I too had a woolen jumper but a long-sleeve for the cold days. A woolen Silver Fleece no less. Never cut a finer figure when on REALLY cold and wet days wore the lace up over the long sleeve (just like Robin Mulholland did at Centrals). Still have them hanging in the wardrobe (along with school/other club jumpers) , and reckon I could (almost) fit into them. Must reminisce more about jumpers at the Club luncheon, hey Book?

  19. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thrilled with the responses, thanks everyone.

    Loving the lace up thread, I have a news clipping of my 1974 Central Juniors U/15 team photo (which includes a future West Adelaide player and two South Australian cricketers), whole team in lace ups. Saving that up for a future story.

    I was given a Centrals lace up in 1967, number 7, Julian Swinstead. Every time I wore it down at Carisbrook Park, I was swooped by (real) magpies.

  20. Oscar#138 says

    Great story Swish. 1 Jumper, 1 Set of numbers and 204 games – my nana was a legend at sewing, wonder if it fits for the reunion!

  21. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Definitely Rabs with a Bob Neil number 130 jumper to be auctioned
    ( the most famous number in world sport ) the joy you have bought to Daddsy is immense , Swish !

  22. Dan Hansen says

    Good job, Swish. My old lace up is still my favourite. My only regret is that it has the number 28 on the back. With the benefit of hindsight I would have preferred three digits.

  23. Stinker186 says

    Robran, Ebert, Bagshaw, Dadds…Sarre.

    I didn’t have a lace up, but at least I had a collar

  24. Nice work swish

    My registered number was 125

    Do I chose to be 25 like my favourite players Alex Jesaulenko of Carlton & Peter cloke of north adelaide

    But when I got a new jumper I couldn’t work out how to sew on 25 so I just sewed on 1 and it was lucky as I was acting captain of the A 9s at the time / Tammy Fraser and the Razor Gang

    But even with I I sewed it on crooked and it looked more like a supply curve in an economics text book than a I !

  25. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Plug, perhaps it was the Expectations Augmented Phillips Curve that your dad Geoff taught me.

  26. Dan Sergeant says

    Coincidentally I also wore number 125 for the worlds greatest football club.
    I played at the end of what I will now call the “woollen jumper era”. Even when clubs from lower socioeconomic areas had transitioned from wool to the latest sweat wicking nylon colour explosions, the blacks were still resplendent in wool. Was this a defiant last stand to prop up the declining manufacturing industries or a help up to the battling farmers? No, the late adoption of the nylon guernsey can be attributed to one person: Boz.
    At the same time as clubs were adopting the new jumpers Boz was doing the deal of the century with Australia’s last surviving woollen mill. The end result was a mountain of jumpers, that prompted a decree from the club treasurer that ( and I paraphrase with maybe a bit of mayonnaise) “no f**king jumpers will be f**king be bought until Boz gets rid of that mountain of jumpers. And so it was.
    A plus to this decree was the emergence of first 18 badges in the scum resplendent on blokes whose football abilities had stopped developing at the under 12’s. But they wore those second hand jumpers with as much pride as the blokes who had worn them at a higher level.
    The end result was the club eventually got new jumpers, and the woollen era was over. No longer would we see blokes with black textas colouring in the yellow stripes caused by trying to dry a woollen jumper on a heater, no longer would blokes almost die of heat exhaustion from playing a trial game, and the collective nipples of the club rejoiced at the prospect of playing a game without drawing blood from the ill placed white V.
    My woollen guernsey is in the cupboard, and on occasion I still pull it out and reflect on the halcyon days of the woollen jumper era.

  27. No. 27 here. Initially lovingly sewed onto the back of a lace up, but after years of washing said lace up turned grey, so resorted to a woollen jumper in an effort to look resplendent in the ’86 finals series. Resplendent I may have looked, but it didn’t help me get a kick. I still blame that jumper for me missing the sitter from 25m out in the GF. The only good thing about that jumper is that Maida Bloch did the sewing! On the rare occasions I get back to Adelaide and wander along to Beautiful University Oval, I always donate a bottle of red to the “best Uni no. 27”

    You got me thinking now why did my lace up turn grey? Maybe from the good old days when one went straight from the swamp – in my day, Uni oval had more mud than a rice paddy – and straight into the shower, boots and all. This was “wash no 1”. On Sunday, one would wander down to the local laundromat and toss in the gear (boots included) for wash no. 2. Only then was the gear ready for ones own washing machine. I guess those 3 washes per week resulted in a grey lace up???

    Nice article Swish, and ta for the mention. Not often one gets mentioned in the same sentence as “the Latvian Warhead, Exocet Missile, Inches” Olekalns! He should feel honoured!

  28. Excellent article Swisher … particularly love the way the jumper has held its shape there ;). Heartily agree that the Blacks Jumper holds a special place in all Greys’ hearts as it does mine … particularly when I recall the stories that were derived from it, none better than the afore mentioned Rob Read 731, or Eric ‘Barcode’ Moseler 111. I forget now who it was now, but someone else with 101 was intuitively dubbed ‘Morse Code’.
    My first intro to Chocka is even coming back to me … ‘BJ’ Bradley, registration number 214. ‘BJ’ never took off – it only took an underhanded posting of a certain couple of State Bank corporate wardrobe brochure shots plastered on the Park 10 change-room walls one day for the obligatory Blacks nickname to change forever. Dutifully I recall my mum sewing each of those numbers on the first of my 3 jumpers over 180-odd games over 10 seasons (not counting the subsequent fill-in appearances).
    I then suffered the indignity of turning up to preseason the year after my graduation to find my number had been re-allocated! At least I thought I might get a lower number … not a chance, 277 I think was the new one. I didn’t want to know … never expected to covert 214 but for a second or two I think I did … but given I was by then (a) a lower grade ‘contract’ player and able to get away with it, and (b) too skinny in the bicep department to look even slightly menacing in a short sleeve woolen jumper, I opted for long sleeves and the number 9. I remember having to sew that on myself.
    When the first jumper ripped by some feral opponent from one of the many non-old-scholars sides that dominated the lower grades, I replaced it with another long-sleeve, this time with number 7 (much easier to sew on). I found out later (Book, you can testify to this) that the long sleeves and single digit, combined with shaking umpires hands in my role as ‘coach’ over 3 season, went a long way toward a decent point count one year to win the coveted A7R Line medal in ’92. There might have been nobody there from Uni apart from Kym ‘King of Passion’ Murchison receiving his more prestigious A7 equivalent at the Alberton Oval presentation ceremony that year (see http://www.saafl.asn.au/History_1992), but wearing the jumper on that day was nonetheless a proud moment I’ll not forget.
    Thanks Swish for prompting the recall :).

  29. Similar stories here. Allocated 52, but never got around to the 2. Low numbers never helped me get votes, as was implied above and I always tried to help the umps by offering sage advice during the game. Didn’t even get BOG for 10 goals. Mind you Killer Carey did win the comp award as playing CC and chatting to the umps for an hour after every game.

    Jumper #5 was lent to some no nickname player years ago who could only fit the top half of his body in it and he never quite got around to returning it. In return, somehow I acquired Dick Kimber’s lace up and I think it’s still in the cupboard – never worn by me, and certainly doesn’t fit any more!

    Even better, I have the 1980 premiership t-shirt in the cupboard. Scared to move it in case it falls apart. The printed logo is still sound, but the cotton material is almost all gone.

  30. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff guys Nose Touches Olekalns ! Nose in 86 in the middle of ad oval burning your boots after we had won re the missed goal glimpsing at each other smiling
    Chocka joining in announcing we had just beaten a club who had spent 50 g re player payments is one of my favorite memories of the worlds greatest fc .
    Model to say buttering up a umpire re helps getting votes there was no one better than , King of Passion grease lightning to get the upm a beer after the game he’d practically carry there gear to the car for them !
    Gooda will call you as Richard Kimber is back here from , a China this week and is coming to the , Greys Adelaide Tom Harley lunch and it would be great to give him the jumper at the lunch brilliant article , Swish and enjoying the comments

  31. So I played colts for Murray Bridge Ramblers and had every intention of playing seniors there but thought training with Uni would be a good idea. March 1986, I pitch up to Beautiful Uni Oval with my Dad’s old woollen long sleeved Hamley Bridge jumper in the kit bag for said trot and ran into former Rambler and, then, one time B grade wide man “Scarlet” O’Hara having kick to kick. Scarlet spots me and remembers me from Ramblers Colts, asks if I’ve met Chocka. Next thing I’m surrounded by black and white photos of legends and a balding old bloke with gnarly fingers asking “name?”. “Stephen Daly” followed by said old bloke screaming “AAARFAAAA”. “Sign here”. “Number 78”, “Rowe and Jarman for your kit”. So I was a boon recruit. Press ganged Blacksman.
    I got changed into my old man’s woolly, collared and buttoned jumper. It was originally long sleeved but I cut them off cos my mum had given it a bit of a warm wash and they’d shrunk to the (then) unfashionable 3/4 length. Unfortunately, I hadn’t done a very good job and it finished up a bit like a Liz Hurley safety pin dress, but I figured good for training. Doing my traditional anticlockwise warm up lap, I began to wonder why so many other blokes had played footy at Hamley Bridge given how many other Black with White V’s were meandering about…..
    4 seasons in a 25 year old jumper! I had to unpick my old man’s number 25 and stitch on 78. (good and bad there).
    Eventually the antique nature of the wool meant, out of respect for the jumper and its recycled nature, I had to retire it from active duty and invested in “new” woollen jumper. The main difference being the new one clearly wasn’t actually knitted and had been manufactured on a loom. The old one strictly for practice only.
    A couple of seasons later, and after completing my studies, a move to Sydney and then London meant Chocka gave my number away. Upon return I was issued 296 which was shortened to 96 and the old number unpicked and replaced with the new digits.
    I still have both jumpers and have proudly worn both around the training track for North London Lions and Wandsworth Demons.
    Sadly, now both retired but never forgotten and still regularly pulled out and given a good sniff and a day dream….
    Great memories boys.
    When is the next London shindig?
    Arfa #78, #96
    (ex Half hour, Posse, Chardonnay etc etc 1986-2002)

  32. Great article. Quite clearly, the best jumper in football.

    Any chance Tom Martin can write an article about the most unique football jumper in the universe; the Freo training guernseys (complete with collar and t-shirt style sleeves)???


  33. Alex Page says

    Great article.

    I think it is a brilliant idea for players to be fully responsible for the purchasing of their guernsey and subsequent attachment of the numbers. I certainly respected my blacks guernsey more than any other guernsey I have owned. Plus being a college lad I had to get the only owner of a sewing machine at St Marks to stitch on my numbers…this just happened to be the wife of ex premier John Bannon.

    Not all guernseys tell a story before they are even worn on field


  34. dart altmann says

    thanks swish for the memories
    started at #73 – the jumper was robust but those foam numbers got frayed and ripped especially when caught in tackles as often as I was
    nose that premiership was won by you going forward and ?riverside having to triple team your marking power leaving keg foster often unmarked
    moved onto a lace up number #10 bought literally on the black market to honour the great barrie robran
    lace up can still fit too with double shoelace – look a bit like frank’n’furter rockie horror as the kg’s put on – probably dining out on all the stories from the glamour years of our lives
    men we have been privileged to part of this great club!
    thanks chocka – when you got suspended by the bowlies tribunal stepping up onto a rickety chair to do a few as did young, dazzling dazza watson will give me stories to drive those nursing home staff to distraction
    arfa the rambler roosters in murray bridge are top of the tree- dart spends his sat pm’s as club medico on the rooster bench – son matt at chf carving up like his dad did (please don’t tell him otherwise)- your mother is still a delightful lady !
    book and daddsy thanks for keeping the links together!
    go the blacks lotsa luv dart

  35. photo please Dart

  36. Rick Bizz Sarre says

    Love the reminder of the stick on Elastoplast digit. One year, for reasons that escape me, we had three players with the number 2 on their back, so we went through a ritual, depending on who wasn’t off skiing, of adding a 1 to make a 2, a 12 and a 21. My recollection is that by the end of any wet game, there were 3 number 2s running around. Since I was invariably the first one at the game and hence the REAL number 2, I suspect it did my medal chances no harm to have three players accumulating votes in the last quarter (when, let’s face it, the umpires always first thought about and then made their decisions on medal voting).

  37. Matthew Ey says

    Bizz in your case your footy ability had the medal covered ( in general you are right ) just wish you could have had a similar system to get rid of bloody , Pyne

  38. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I might have revised my approach to footy as a contact sport if Pyne was my opponent, wonder if he ever made an appearance for Old iggies?

  39. Elastoplast – the most important component of the medical kit – along with scissors and the mercurochrome. But did Elastoplast ever get used to treat player injuries? (No, sprained fingers don’t count!).

    It seemed only to be used to construct numbers for the back of jumpers – as read above, adding a 1 before or after the jumper number being the most popular solution to number clashes. But turning a 1 into a 7, or a 0, 3, 5, 6 or 9 into an 8 worked just as well.

    In the good old days with button up shorts, an errant tackle could see buttons go everywhere. Elastoplast to the rescue for such emergencies.

    Another use of this miracle tape was when your boots “blew apart” with only 3 or 4 games left. With money tight as a student, and any spare coin to be spent across a bar, purchasing new boots was not an option. It made much better sense to use about half a roll of Elastoplast to keep the sole of the boot attached. Of course Sandy Cockburn and Treasurer Barty hated this expensive practice, and a bit of stealth was required to acquire said tape on game days or at training.

    Were there any other uses for this wonderful tape?

  40. Nose,

    I do wish someone had used the Elastoplast to gag Boz!


  41. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Boz Gags – what can I say?

  42. Chris 'Killer' Watts says

    Great stories/memories.

    Still value my #135 (long sleeved, woolen, no badges) as much as any item of clothing/memorabilia/sporting apparel I own! As with Bob Bradley, my puny biceps as a 19 year old were never going to look any good in a sleeveless jumper (I reckon the long sleeves have just that little more character!)…

    ‘Killer’ (95/96)

  43. Swish – Boz Gags – now THAT is gonna stick (even without Elastoplast)!

  44. Tom Martin says

    Great piece Swish.

    I love that you can remember your first registration with the Blacks. Chocka’s gruff efficiency invariably made it a memorable experience during his era.

    My original Blacks guernsey is long gone. Can’t remember my first number, but it was purchased from Rowe and Jarman and sewn on by my mother late on the Friday night before the first game, not without a degree of resentment on her part.

    I’ve still got the #8 Blacks guernsey I wore in the 2002 season, one of Boz’s massive stash with the First XIII badge on it. The old Ferrier Hodgson logo is on the other side. The debt recovery and corporate restructuring specialists extracted every last cent and more from that sponsorship deal as we kept wearing the guernseys for several years after their last cheque had been cashed.

    At some point in the mid-2000s we entered the era of high-tech fabrics, sublimation and Chinese manufacture. I blame Norwood, on account of that ridiculous spray-on outfit they pioneered in the SANFL.

    As a consequence of cheaper manufacture, changes in pub sponsorship, Amateur League logo changes, and my own yo-yoing body shape, I have a collection of several of these guernseys as well, but they don’t have anywhere near the same sentimental value.

    I probably should send them back to Boz or to the Salvos but I can’t bring myself to do it. As a matter of fact I’ve still got just about every footy guernsey I’ve ever owned. A junior-size Bloods guernsey, school guernsey, training guernseys, rep guernseys. Still got Blacks footy shorts too, in a vast array of sizes, all stained with the mud and blood of long-forgotten campaigns.

    I figure they’ll be needed for pre-season in my comeback year. Ask me again in another decade and that’ll probably still be the reason I hang onto them.

    Oh, and no-one tell Boz, for Christ’s sake.

  45. I have your jumper from the 2000’s, still reeking of booze and torn around the neck from our blue during the typhoon at Turf City Singapore 2010. I am holding onto it as I believe it will appreciate in value, and achieve a significant price at auction in years to come. You are the modern day ‘Bob Neil’. Hope you kept all my XXL shorts during handover circa 2006.

    Neil before the Pope, cheers

  46. Andrew McLeod says

    I was delighted to have a three digit registered number. #189. All the better that my birthday is 18 September. I (though was probably mum) bought the jumper. then we went looking for the numbers.

    Me: “Can we have a One, an Eight and a Nine please?”

    Shop assistant: “Play for Uni do you?”

    I hadn’t at that stage but I was already chuffed.

    The jumper was on for 100 games exactly from 1983. Never appeared in trial game, like it’s owner. I wore it 99 times. I borrowed one once and lent mine out once. After being overseas and missing two seasons, I found that my registered number was gone, but I kept the guernsey. One of the last games I played, there were two #189s running around for The Blacks.

    I still have it and it still fits but it is a bugger to take it off. Always was actually. Especially if you were knackered. There is a mud stain on the V. I don’t know how that could’ve happened.

    Uni is the only club or team I ever played for. Still chuffed about that.

  47. charlie brown says

    One of these days i should let Herbie Martin know that i’ve still got the No 29 woolly, moth eaten jumper i borrowed from him for my first match in 1982. One handy thing about getting a jumper from a doctor is that you don’t need to sew on your own number

  48. Great stuff here. Reminds me of 2 things. First my utterly undistinguished career for Oaklands Primary was in the same guernsey, maybe hand-me-downs?? And second, when I had decided that football was much too rough for somebody who was 6’4″ and about 9 stone wringing wet and went over to basketball, my first singlet I asked for number 11 so that it would be easy for Mum to sew on. 11 year old boys not being allowed near sewing machines. Whole article and comments do rather make me wish I had persisted with football. And maybe gone to Uni rather than Institute of Technology !

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