Well, the decision’s been made.
— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) July 29, 2016
The club is consigning arguably the best jumper in its history to a clash jumper scrap-heap that is growing rapidly across the competition. It also dashes my secret dreams of having a black version as our home jumper. Sigh.
But, first thing’s first – the home jumper isn’t quite staying as is.
Much unlike the very late jumper reveals of recent seasons, this year the club offered up a lot of next year’s design before the prior season had even finished.
They did this via Mav and Membrey posting cheeky shots of Membrey and Josh Bruce respectively on their Instagram and Twitter accounts in a photo shoot wearing BLK-manufactured guernseys with white collar and cuffs that is considered a more classic St Kilda design.
Whilst the period from the 1930s until 1960 saw a very sleek design with a jumper that featured plenty of red and white on the front and black (with white sleeves – as seen in the 2004 Heritage Round jumper) paired with mostly black socks, the era that included the 1966 premiership, as well as the 1965 and 1971 Grand Final appearances actually had black cuffs to go with the white collar, before giving way to the “traditional” white collar and cuffs, black jumper back and hooped socks combination.
Not that there was anything overly symbolic about it, but for the romantics/people who look far too much into this kind of thing, I always associated the solid black collar and cuffs that came in for 2011 with a mark of depression coming about from the Grand Final losses, and it’s perhaps timely it has been lifted as the club’s development unfolds.
A further tick for the historical aspect of the new BLK design is the fact that there doesn’t appear to be shoulder panels darkening the front of the jumper, so the red panel will be red all the way up to the top of the front of the jumper – it’s subtle, but it means there’s a lot more white and red coming through in the design.
However, one thing that instantly raised a few alarm bells with some was the weird colouring of the jumper. BLK has been criticised in recent years for the colours on some of their clubs’ jumpers – most notable the rather faded yellow on the Adelaide and Richmond jumpers, and the black-turned-dark-charcoal of the Tigers. The shot of Membrey – despite the quality – instantly shows his black tracksuit is far darker than the black panel of the BLK home jumper he’s wearing. FFS seriously, how is that even a thing that gets through? Surely with all the bullshit technology that goes into manufacturing the BLK can somehow get colouring right? It’s obviously very early into the agreement but as a few people have posted already online, we’re at risk of looking like neapolitan ice-cream.
What’s more alarming than that? Well, the fact that we are holding our breath now for the club and BLK to release a new clash jumper design (as per Finnis’ Q&A at the end of July) that will replace the Candy Stripe #2 jumper we’ve had for the past two seasons, and what I’d say is arguably the best jumper the club has ever had.
If the club is serious about its Road to 2018 plan, then they’d want to back that up with a clash jumper they’re happy to run out in on Grand Final Day. We became the first ever club to wear a clash jumper in a Grand Final in 2010, and fortunately it was a jumper that was based on the home jumper and also echoed some of those aforementioned 20th century designs (strangely in 1997 our “away” jumper was the traditional home design).
Given this year’s pre-season design and the hot-cross bun return for My Favourite Hair in the AFL’s 300th (which was slightly botched in its return owing much to the ISC template) , I’d be banking on a similar design for the new clash with the timing right for nostalgia-fuelled inspiration. I’ll say this every time I bring up clash jumpers – they need to accentuate the red rather than the black, whether that means having a red number on a white back or something like the jumper worn by some players between 1906 and 1908, which was mostly white but had red shoulder panels.
This pre-season jumper’s red back was a nice novelty (following on from the Stickman’s of 2014), but essentially meant two completely different designs on the front and back of the same jumper.
There’s a couple that could work otherwise. Some strategic maneuvering of the red and black hoops of the 140 Year Anniversary jumper – a definite title contender for the best and almost certainly the boldest St Kilda jumper of all-time – would be sensational if executed correctly.
Either way, the key here is the balance of red and white over making it essentially a white jumper with a bit of black and negligible amount of white. The teams we clash with are darker teams – Essendon, Melbourne, Collingwood, Carlton, Richmond, Port Adelaide, etc. and particularly when it comes to teams with black or navy in them we have been at risk of essentially half the jumper looking like the opposition. Red needs to be throughout the jumper, not just shifted to one side like the tri-panel. Despite the jumper itself being a good design, from one side, BJ’s mark in the 2010 Grand Final is taken by a player in a white jumper with a black stripe playing against a team wearing black and white stripes.
This is where a hooped jumper might work, or red cuffs and red numbers. It also brings a version of the hot-cross bun into play, say for instance with red chest panels (a lá the original) and then white below the horizontal bar of the cross, perhaps with the red coming back over the shoulder and creating a mostly red and white design with more than enough black to remind you who exactly you’re watching, rather than what could be any team wearing a white jumper.
Or perhaps this might be the chance to finally bring in a red, yellow and black clash jumper?