Where Loyalty Starts


by Matt Zurbo

What the hell is a GC?
I tried explaining it to my nephew. He’s looking for a team to barrack for. Red and yellow are simple and bold. Good stuff. He’s young. A new life for a new club, I thought.
But GC?
“It’s a co-orperate emblem,” I said. “Hm, you like to draw planes? Barrack for the Bombers instead.”
How can the AFL get is so almost right? Where’s their passion, their pride? I could play under a flame. let it represent what I am. Put a SUN on their jumpers, you business-minded dick-heads!
Carlton had no choice. They were the Navy Blues. Still are. But, at least they have a timeless design and type-face. The GC will date worse than shoulder pads, the Brisbane Bears jumper, and skin-tight, marble-wash pants. You’re trying to create dynasties, knuckleheads.

“Maybe he should barrack for GWS,” my teammate, Betsy says over a froffy after training. “What’s their mascot?”
“A giant, I think.”
“What’s a giant?” he asks.
“An American basketballer,” I say.
“What’s wrong with a Dingo, or Tiger Snake?” he asks.
“Fair crack, they don’t want to be seen as Australian,” I tell him.
So we have a few more beers, and throw some names into the ring.
The Neds – Ned Kelly. Imagine having an iron helmet on your chest? The Emus. The Endevours – a sailing ship. The Bullants, The Kookaburras. The Crocodiles.
“The Wombats!” I say.
“What – short, slow and hairy?” Betsy says.
“Good point. I’ll concede that.”

The Storm means a bit. Melbourne has a lot of rain, they’ve embraced it. Storms can be nasty, powerful things. But, better than that, how cool is their mascot? A mean looking man throwing lightening bolts from a monster cloud. If I was a kid, I’d say: “Sign me up.”

A name, a mascot, a jumper, all mean so much.
Apollo Bay are a proud club. They wear Hawthorn colours – can’t help bad luck – but nobody calls them the Hawks. They are The Bayers. The coast is who they are. They always say it with pride. Lorne, down the road, are the dolphins. Fair enough. There’s that little bit extra pride in a club that have their own jumper, I reckon, or local mascot.
Rochalea, in Tasmania are a hard, mean club. Damn, they’re good! They wear Richmond colours, that come with a tiger, but everybody calls them the Rock Apes.
The best team name I’ve ever heard was The Maninji Yabbies, from outback NSW. Why be a Lion or a Saint, when you can be as Aussie as that.
A mate of mine and I once made it to Wilcanya and wondered where the locals all were. The servo attendant told us the Yabbies, a mostly Aboriginal outback team, were playing the Grand Final against the Broken Hill Bombers, a mostly white mining team, some 300kms away. My mate and I turned the car around and floored it.
My old club swapped leagues about a decade back, which meant a jumper change. I drew up a green jumper with fat, white line down the middle, like St.Kilda, and a black siloette of an Otway Panther. Green for the bush. The panther for local folk-law. Two of the Perkins boys had tattoos of the beast on their arms, because they swore blue they saw it while hunting one night. In the end, we went back to the club’s original Melbourne colours, which is fair enough. Tradition counts. We weren’t the Demons, though, not really. We were simply Otway, as if that’s enough.
Adelaide got it right, from the git go. Simple jumper. A local emblem for a mascot. Port once wore prison bars. They were mean and working class and won flag after flag and Collingwood ripped out their guts before they could start. Eddy refuses to let go of their jumper. Not even to compromise. He knows how important it is.
When I was a kid, I almost changed to Collingwood because I found a black & white shell on the beach. The colours looked so simple, primal. These things count. Football is primal. Well, barracking is. It’s tribal. Like gang colours or battlefield flags. No wonder the Magpies are so popular. Fortunately, a family member beat some sense into me.
Each year the Saints get their away strips right. They keep it bold and simple. Don’t let the graphic designers take over.
Tell me some of the better names you’ve heard. I love ’em all. I’ve already come across the Crushers, the Diggers – what a bloody great name – the Cain Toads and Convicts. Show me some colours.
Really, football’s greatest rivalry, even though it is long gone, Melbourne versus Collingwood, was summed up by their colours. A rich red and blue, versus a working class black-and-white.
These things have to mean something.

Put a sun on it, you clowns.

A lazer designed GC? What the hell is that?


  1. Couldn’t agree more, Matt. A shame to see the Suns set such poor example.

  2. Gladstone in Centraql Queensland are the Mud Crabs, and in Rockhampton (beef capital of Australia) a suburb called Glenmore are the Bulls. Have to agree 100% with you mate

  3. Dan Crane says

    Loved your article Matt, great read – and much better than me waffling on about joel selwood…..

    IAs for GC i don’t get it either, as well as the light blue they have in their design…………and what wrong with sting rays or sharks? or the gold coast retirees?
    surely the crocs is being saved for darwin in their khaki jumpers and devils for tassie in green and red, or maybe they’ll be the apples?

  4. Matt Zurbo says

    The MUD CRABS! You beaut!!

  5. Jonathan says

    I reckon the Gold Coast will change in a few years, get themeselves some red and yellow stripes and ditch the logo off the front. A classic case of over design, like the 1st Eagles, Bears and Port jumpers. I love the old Freo jumper and was very disappointed with the changes that were made.

    In regards to footy clubs names the originals are best but were often swept aside for the sake of marketing. In the local WAFL comp West Perth used to be the Cardinals while East Fremantle were just Old Easts – 80’s marketing meant they changed to the Falcons and the Sharks respectively. At least East Perth (the Royals) remain.

  6. Andrew Fithall says

    It had been advocated elsewhere that the GWS be known as the Walers – a breed of horse previously utilised by THe Lighthorsemen (as well as a nice reference to New South Wales). That they went with Giants is a good example of the lack of imagination you highlight in your article.Love your work Matt.

  7. Richard Naco says

    I can accept that red and yellow go with the Gold Coast like sun burn and blondes (inevitably, bottle blondes), and that the name “Suns” is apt (as the source of both analogies). But that uniform is just plain lame (should that read lame’?), cheap + nasty, & as dull as dogmeat. And I agree entirely with all the derision directed in this discussion to the naff logo.

    But as bad as the GC’s livery is, it pales to almost acceptable besides the dogs’ breakfast of a marketing strategy that set up GWS. The logo is a shapeless blob (although I accept that this the predominant body shape at Penrith Plaza on any given weekend); the name is a bland burst of Americana; and the colours are meaninglessly inner city trendy (which the home territory of GWS most definitely is not) and completely ignore the cardinal rule of uniforms: “Stick to Primary Colours!!!” Orange and charcoal are points of alienation from the get-go. The self proclaimed greater west is all about functionality and minimal bs.

    The colours had a very simple inspiration sitting right in front of them. The heart of this club’s territory stretches from BLACKtown to the BLUE Mountains, so the bleeding obvious would have been to go black and blue vertical stripes. KISS principle stuff, really.

    And as per previous suggestions here, I too would have gone with a more relevant name for an Australian sporting club, such as the afore mentioned Bullants, Walers or Bulls, with Scorpions, Razorbacks (using the logo from the classic Australian film rather than that of the hopeless & now defunct NBL franchise – and the marketing potential of anything remotely porcine is limitless), or even Spiders would also strike a chord with the club’s potential market (the Sydney basin being the sole home of the deadliest arachnid in the world, the Funnel-web). Giving people a choice between Wolves & Giants was simply confessing to having absolutely no understanding of the inherent nature of the club’s marketplace or the opportunity that this should have presented.

    GWS, far more than the Gold Coast, is the real front line of the fight to raise our game to unprecedented dominance within its niche market. Sloppy marketing has already made that fight far harder and more arduous than it should ever have been.

    (Needless to say, despite my enormous reservations and borderline resentment over the inherent stupidity of its marketing to date, I plan to embrace that club & actively support it next year.)

    (As my second club.)

  8. Matt Zurbo says

    Dan, don’t sell yourself short. Yeah, Tassie Devils, it would HAVE to be. The Retiries is cute. Maybe they could put an upside down V on they chest, for ex-Victorians.

    Jonathan, the West Coast is a PRIME example. You want your first jumper to be the stuff of legends and envy. Not a dated cringe. Even the name – West Coast. Of what, Victoria? S.A.? America? It doesn’t mean anything. Perth would have been far more honest. So it goes. Still love watching Cox and Kerr play.

    Andrew, The Lighthorsemen, the Sappers, and, yes, the Whalers, are all beaut. A horse would make a great mascot, a good looking emblem, and tie the club to the land, giving it instant history and roots and identity. Giants is American. All it says to me is Shopping Malls.

    Richard, man, talk like that on a podium and I’d VOTE for you! Well said.

    Thanks all. Keep suggestions coming… (still love Mud Crabs)

  9. westcoastdave says

    I guess a lot of it is subjective – for example I hated the original Freo jumper(s), but really love the purple anchor on white or vice versa. I’ve seen some shockers this year – I bet if Melbourne played Footscray in their away jumpers you couldn’t even guess which team was which from a distance!

    As a West Coast fan I was much happier with the Blue and Yellow premiership jumper than the Yellow and Blue original one – but both of them are infinitely better than the year they tried to add ochre and ended up like someone had eaten one too many Adelaide jumpers and then lost the lot all over the template. Not only was it ugly, when I watched them play a team that I didn’t mind I often found myself instinctively wanting the opposition to get the ball because I didn’t recognise the Eagles jumper as being my team. That can’t be a good sign!

    However, while some of it is subjective about what we like or not, the choice of Giants still seems pretty obtuse. No-one I know in and around football thinks it sounds anything other than American – and the AFL must know that too. I can only assume that they have some research that shows it could appeal to the people they are trying to appeal to. If not, then they might be in a touch of bother, as it doesn’t talk to existing footy people. Rugby League clubs, names and jumpers have a less-traditional feel to me, and many western-Sydney immigrants might have stronger US aspirations than your typical Australian as well – so maybe they know exactly what they are doing.

    The GC logo to me looks like something that is designed not to put anyone off rather than attract passionate lovers. Might be that they need some time to figure out who is coming on the ride, and then a subtle shift to suit them?

  10. Dave Goodwin says

    When I were a lad growing up I lived for 4 years in a Queensland town called Biloela about an hour south of Rockhampton. You might have heard of it as the home town of Ian Healy. I played 3 years of junior sport in the same teams as Heals, under 10s, 11s and 12s. He was useful – I saw him get his first century as a ten year old in a town called Dululu. I could have been a great keeper, but Heals bagged the gloves and inners and I was despatched to first slip, where (Mark Taylor style) I patented the art of the nonchalant retrieve of the ball flicked over by the gloveman. Such is destiny. Anyway, Biloela apparently means in indiginese “Home of the White Cockatoo”. We played in what must have been an under 10s soccer team for the town which had what is still I reckon the best colour combination and concept I have encountered. White shorts and blue and white vertical striped soccer shirts (North style, or perhaps Sheffield Wednesday) with a big badge over the heart which was an image of a white sulphur crested cockatoo with a big splash of yellow colour sticking up from its noggin. Blue, white and yellow is an underused colour combination in sports teams (think Leeds United). And we were “The Cockatoos” – now that’s the name for a winning franchise.

  11. Mulcaster says

    I worked n Rockhampton twentyish years ago and the Etna Creek Diehards were unbeatable in the Rocky Rugby League reserve grade competition. The powers that be would not let the H.M. Prison Etna Creek enter a team in A grade. I think it was too much of a risk that quality players would be injured.

  12. Chalkdog says

    Good ideas Matt

    on the Ned Kelly theme my mate in the O&K region refers to Glenrowan as “The Tin Heads”. If its not the official name it should be…
    As a conspiracy theorist I believe the proliferation in players wearing white boots was started by the AFL in readiness for the Gold Coast to enter the comp. You know so the supporters could be more like the players…

  13. I am from the school of thought that if the jumper cannot be described in a simple sentence in the record, the club has missed the mark.

    Hoops, sashes, yolks, stripes, piping, vees, thirds are all in.

    Lightning bolts, large animals, big letters (Carlton aside), blended colours, asymmetrical patterns are all out. Save them for the training track.

    And don’t get me started on away strips!

  14. I always thought the Gold Coast Snappers would have been marketable…

  15. Adam Muyt says

    Bungendore’s near Canberra. It’s local rugby team’s known as the Mud Chooks. Wonderful name. Anothere from the same NSW Southern Tablelands comp. is the Jindabyne Bush Pigs.

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