Did the St Kilda board rig a clash jumper poll in the 2007 pre-season?

By Tom Briglia

Many of us cringe when we think of the “apron” design clash jumper worn by the club in 2007 and 2008.

Photo by Lachlan Cunningham, © The Slattery Media Group

It wasn’t simply the design that was bad – there was nothing bold about the basketball-singlet-style lines and the bemusing worn effect given to the club logo – but it was also that it had replaced the widely popular candy-stripe jumper, which had been forced out simply because it looked a bit like Collingwood’s jumper.

The design was widely panned by supporters, and the promise of change at the end of the 2008 season given by Nathan Burke at that year’s AGM was met with great enthusiasm.

Of course, the odd thing was that the apron design had won a head-to-head poll against this design:

In my opinion, this design is far superior – it’s far bolder. The black cuffs and solid logo look great, and the red, white and black stripes are at the very least echoed in the chevrons. It looks far more like a St Kilda jumper than the apron ever will.

But it seems that the poll results might have said something similar.

The designer of the the chevron jumper is “Mero”, who runs the fantastic footyjumpers.com. His knowledge of the history of all VFL/AFL (and beyond) clubs’ jumper designs is incredible and reflected in his website. (St Kilda’s own progression of jumper designs is on of the busier histories, so the site is well worth a look for that alone: for all jumpers, see here, and for full home uniforms, see here. There were definitely some interesting designs through the years.)

Mero posts regularly on the BigFooty.com forum, and in a thread titled “Jumpers that never were”, he posted something yesterday rather remarkable about the design (there’s some more information about his assisting the club with the design, the St Kilda Heritage Museum, and with the 2005 Heritage Round jumper design later in the thread). Taken directly from his post:

“The jumper I designed, with the chevrons down the sides was leading the poll with one day to go.

And when they announced the decision it was the other jumper by something like 60% to 40%.

My thoughts were they had decided on the one they wanted, and ran the other one to make it look like the fans had a say.

Not bitter, wasn’t getting anything out of it, so it doesn’t matter, and I don’t barrack for StKilda, but I was taking an interest because of the design, and they definitely pulled a swifty.”

It’s worth noting that Nathan Burke, made the promise of change as part of the new board that had just taken over from Rod Butterss’ regime, which had overseen the clash jumper design issue about a year earlier.

So perhaps the Butterss board actually did rig the poll. There’s never been anything to suggest the apron design was close to popular with fans, for reasons that simply wouldn’t apply to the alternative design. To be honest, assuming Mero’s story is true, I hope whoever gave him the information before the poll closed was wrong for whatever reason, and that the board didn’t in fact disregard the wishes of its fans after explicitly giving them the impression they’d been granted a say in the operations of the club.

To some this would be a non-issue, but to many the jumper is the representation of the club. It’s how you know the individual players and the team as a whole you are looking at represent the St Kilda Football Club.