The story behind each North Melbourne Indigenous guernsey

On Saturday afternoon North Melbourne players will run onto the field in the Kangaroos men’s ninth Indigenous guernsey, worn to celebrate Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Designed by Wurundjeri and Dja Dja Wurrung artist Ky-ya Nicholson Ward, ‘Marram’ represents the Kangaroo moving forward in a positive way, and honours both the players’ uniqueness and respective journeys to Wurundjeri country.

The custom began eight years ago, when Dreamtime at the ‘G combatants Essendon and Richmond were joined by the entire competition in rolling out designs for the round.

Here, we’ve gone through the first eight North men’s and two North women’s designs.

2014 – ‘Our Icon’

North Melbourne players first wore an Indigenous guernsey in Round 11, 2014 when they travelled to Perth to take on West Coast. The jumper, named ‘Our Icon,’ was designed by Gurindji artist Sarrita King.

The arrow-like symbols represent Kangaroo paw prints and symbolise travel, while the circles represent tribes, campsites and communities, and symbolise everyone coming together to meet at the club.

Finally, the Kangaroo paw in the oval in the centre represents the North Melbourne community coming together on the field.

The Roos ran out 38-point winners over West Coast that Sunday afternoon, on the back of an even performance with nine individual goalkickers.

As it was worn in an away match, the jumper featured again the following week when North rolled Richmond by 28 points. The game is often remembered for Robin Nahas’ two-goal cameo.

2015 – ‘Our Icon II’

The following season, Sarrita released ‘Our Icon II,’ which leaned on similar design elements but was based on the Roos’ home guernsey with blue stripes on white.

In Indigenous Round (as it was known up until 2016) Collingwood trailed the Kangaroos by 39 points at half-time, but kicked 13 of the next 17 to cruise home by three goals.

It was also worn the following week in Hobart, where Shaun Higgins’ 22 disposals and four goals helped the Roos to a 10-point win over eventual Grand Finalists West Coast.

2016 – ‘Bloodlines’

In 2016, Sarrita combined with sister Tarisse to design ‘Bloodlines,’ which depicts the land from the air.

The design is divided in two, with the ‘bloodline’ that runs between Sarrita and Tarisse’s designs symbolising their connection to each other and the land.

North Melbourne were held off by the Sydney Swans in Sir Doug Nicholls Round though Lindsay Thomas shone with three goals. When the jumper was next worn, again in Hobart, the Kangaroos crushed Richmond by 70 points on the back of Daniel Wells’ 29 possessions and three goals.

2017 – ‘Tribal’

The following year, Sarrita was aided in the design process by Kokatha and Wirangu man Lindsay Thomas, Warramunga man Jed Anderson and Wirangu and Wangkatha man Daniel Wells.

With the beloved ‘Bounding Roo’ as a base, the players worked with Sarrita to incorporate what was important to them into the design.

In Sir Doug Nicholls Round the Roos were drawn away to Carlton, and led at every change on their way to a 17-point win. The Blues nudged ahead three minutes into the last quarter, but five of the final seven goals saw Brad Scott’s men safely home.

2018 – ‘Origins’

‘Origins’ was designed by Tarisse King, her first solo design for North Melbourne having collaborated with sister Sarrita two seasons earlier.

The story Tarisse tells is of a river winding through communities that represent the club’s footballing talent. The river flows into an indigenous kangaroo, symbolic of the club where the communities come together.

Each of the club’s past and contemporary Indigenous players’ names was incorporated into the design, from Barry Cable and Winston Abraham to Jed Anderson and Jy Simpkin.

On matchday, North rolled Brisbane by 54 points at Marvel Stadium. The Roos had no fewer than 14 individual goalkickers, led by Jack Ziebell with three.

2019 – ‘Totem’

Designed by Gunmok woman and artist Lorraine Kabbindi White, this jumper depicts the totems of each Indigenous player at the club.

The honey ant (Jed Anderson), goanna (Paul Ahern) and water (Kyron Hayden) are all represented, as is the ‘Rainbow Serpent’ or ‘Ngalyod’ in Western Arnhem Land.

‘Ngalyod’ is a powerful being that originated from beneath the earth and created mountains and gorges as it pushed to the surface. Arden Street also features in the form of a blue oval, depicting a deep waterhole in which ‘Ngalyod’ dwells.

North Melbourne won each of the matches in which ‘Totem’ was worn. The Roos saw Brad Scott off with a 25-point win over the Western Bulldogs, before Rhyce Shaw coached the team to a 37-point win over eventual premiers Richmond.

2020 – ‘Never Surrender’

The background depicts freshwater and saltwater countries merging, and symbolises the coming together of different cultures.

In addition to the totems featured on the 2019 Indigenous guernsey, ‘Never Surrender’ honours Jy Simpkin (turtle) and Tarryn Thomas (goanna and emu).

The boomerang and spears represent strength, resilience and a celebration of survival.

In Sir Doug Nicholls Round North Melbourne were defeated by 30 points by eventual semi-finalists Collingwood.

2021 AFLW

Designed by Yamatji Martu woman Emma Macneill, this guernsey represents the themes of “inclusion, community and belonging.”

Macneill worked with Jawoyn woman Mia King, Dja Dja Wurrung woman Kaitlyn Ashmore and Yorta Yorta man Jy Simpkin, North Melbourne stars all, in the design phase.

The kangaroo’s paw flower represents the resilience of the women at the club, while the boomerangs represent the men’s team guiding and empowering the women.

When the jumper was worn in a match, the Roos booted five goals in the final term to run out 22-point winners over Carlton in Launceston.

2021 – ‘Our Mob’

‘Our Mob,’ also designed by Macneill, represents the Indigenous men and women of the club walking the footsteps paved by past legends.

The kangaroo in the centre represents the men in the playing group, our lives and who have supported the club for generations.

On either side are the female Roos, the trailblazers, the women who are the club’s pillars of courage and represent its progressive nature.

The joeys depict the opportunities to succeed, and ‘our babies’ who keep the love of the game alive, while the circle collectively represents the club.

When the jumper was worn, North Melbourne were narrowly held off by St Kilda.

2022 AFLW

The past season’s design was reprised on a blue colourway for the Kangaroos’ clash with Collingwood at North Hobart Oval in late February.

North Melbourne jumped out to an early lead in the jumper, but the Pies were only ever a burst away from threatening to take the points until Mia King, who contributed to the design, slalomed through several defenders and slotted the sealer.

Jasmine Garner was the dominant player on the ground, having notched 26 disposals and three goals in the Roos’ 23-point win.

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