Old (woollen) footy jumpers: You grow into it

Ross Mueller You Grow into it - Henry

Henry Mueller


by Ross Mueller


“He’ll grow into it.”  Says the man with glasses.  Sage advice.

Here I stand staring up at adults. Surrounded by three enormous bodies, in a pack in a fitting room in downtown Geelong. I think this is Brights, but I’m not sure.

I’m too young to know where I am.

From memory I am pretty sure we are upstairs. (Maybe not) But I think, we are standing in the only department store in the city. Early 1970’s. There is a blue and white border around this recollection.

The big people are mum and dad and an old bloke who is wearing a tie and I think he has a pipe in his top pocket. Either way, this bloke’s an expert.

“Plenty of room for the next few seasons.” He says. He nods and smiles. He’s happy with this diagnosis. Clearly this man knows football jumpers. He’s a Jumper Boffin I reckon.

The wool feels like a second skin, a fleece. I close my eyes and don’t say a word.

I recall that I am completely aware of the moment. The ritual of the first footy jumper. I know this is a big day, this jumper is huge and he’s right. There’s plenty of room for the future and so right now, I swim in the hoops.

The Jumper Boffin reaches toward me and starts to pull the guernsey off. I resist. Hold his hands in place and stare at him. Fierce and ready to fight.

It is clear to all in the cubicle that I intend to wear this jumper home. I intend to wear it until it wears out. This is my team, my home town and so the adults talk about something and somehow we get home with me still inside the garment.

It stays on my back day in and day out and when it does get too small, we cut off the arms. It stretches and morphs and a series of numbers are hand stitched on the hoops on the back.

“35” was the first and “17” is the last. 80% wool and 20% acrylic.

I wore it out, but I never threw it out and twenty five years later it was sitting in a drawer ready to wrap another body. When my son was born, it was worn all over again. For a few more seasons at least.

Now, he is well beyond the grip of the fragile seams but our jumper remains in our home. A potential family heirloom.

Today I wonder if one day, maybe there might be a third torso inside this batch of  blue and white.

It will be a too big at first, but… you know…

You grow into it and then…

It fits.


About Ross Mueller:


Ross Mueller is an Australian writer. He was born in Geelong and so he is a Geelong supporter.

He is a weekly columnist for the Geelong Advertiser and the winner of the New York New Dramatists Playwright exchange for his play Concussion. In March 2009 his play Concussion premiered at Sydney Theatre Company. In April 2009 his play Hard Core was short-listed for the Patrick White Award. He is the winner of the Wal Cherry Play of the year 2007 for his play The Glory. In March 2007 his play – The Ghost Writer was premiered at Melbourne Theatre Company.

Construction of The Human Heart was short-listed for the 2007 AWGIE Award for Best New Play and nominated for five Green Room Awards. In 2002 he was the Australian playwright at the International Residency of the Royal Court Theatre in London.  His play ZEBRA! premiered with a sell out season at STC in March 2011 starring Bryan Brown and Colin Friels.

He writes about art, sport and politics and why we lost the 1989 Grand Final.

His scribblings can be found at http://themuellername.wordpress.com/




  1. That story is what this woollen jumper series is all about.

  2. looks like nanna made that one,these days kids are to embarrassed to wear a wooled style Guernsey

  3. Good yarn, Ross, in more ways than one. I can vaguely remember Brights, but I was more likely to be window-shopping at the sports store in Ryrie St.

    Andrew, I guess kids might be embarrased to wear a woollen footy jumper these days but lately I’ve seen a toddler wearing a hand-knitted Demons jumper.

    Looking forward to your next story, Ross.

    – Vin (Peter Maskell’s brother.)

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