THE ARTWORK of Melbourne’s 2024 Sir Doug Nicholls Round guernsey is fittingly titled “My Heart Beats True.”

The design was created by Mali Isabel, an Arabana and Kokatha artist living on Kaurna Country, whose family’s special connection to the Melbourne Football Club is at the core of this year’s jumper.

Mali’s intricate art, centred around a heart, tells the story of her younger brother and passionate Demons fan KC Melbourne Herriman-Place.

After suffering from cardiomyopathy, his first cardiac arrest at just 11 years old, KC received a heart transplant in 2020.

He was on the transplant list for 405 days and on March 16, his life was changed forever.

Bursting with pride for her brother and his resilience through this time, Mali was thrilled to be able to honour KC and his journey in Melbourne’s Indigenous guernsey for 2024.


“This guernsey is all about my little brother and his journey, his strength, his power, his resilience,” Mali told Melbourne Media.

“Melbourne Football Club has been such a big part of my family, my family’s culture and our lives as a whole.

“The club has been a big part of my family’s healing journey, so for us, it’s somewhat an end of an era but also such a beautiful beginning.”

KC’s connection to the club became a major part of his life during this difficult time.

While in hospital, the young Demon fan was visited by a number of Melbourne players, with KC crediting the kindness and generosity of these players for helping him through this tough period.

“The biggest part of [KC’s] journey was the Melbourne Football Club players,” Mali said.

“They would visit him in hospital. They followed him on Instagram.

“This little kid in the absolute worst situation of his life…and then his idols are keeping in touch with him, checking up on him.

“These players, they made him feel so special.

“The big thing about KC in this entire thing, not once did he ever complain. He was so grateful to be there. He was so happy to be alive.

To see the Melbourne players make him feel so special and give him that sense of hope and that life is worth living.

“That’s more than I could have ever asked for.

“For me, it was everything.”

At the centre of Mali’s artwork is a beating heart to represent KC’s journey through cardiomyopathy.

The heart, with its five layers, connects the Melbourne Football Club, each layer representing the staff, the players, the community, Mali’s family and then the middle signifying KC and his heart donor.

At the top of the artwork are a number of star symbols, which represent those who came before us, Elders and those who are no longer here with us.

“No matter where we are, we all look up at the same stars and that connects us all as one,” Mali said.

“They’re very special, star symbols.”

At the bottom of the design is a series of waterholes, depicting Mali’s Arabana culture.

Kati Thanda (Lake Ayre) is located on Arabana Country, with water considered the most spiritually sacred element for Arabana people.

“Water brings people together,” Mali said.

“It’s the most pure, special thing to our culture.”

Throughout the design are further significant cultural symbols such as meeting places and sand hills, as well as emu tracks, kangaroo tracks and human tracks all travelling towards the centre heart.

“With footy, we all come from different places, far and wide, but we all have this one big thing in common that we love, supporting this one team,” Mali said.

All those tracks represent us being individual, unique humans, all coming together as one.

“This guernsey is mainly all about community, because that’s what I see Melbourne as – a beautiful, accepting, loving community.”

The back of the guernsey features the names of all Melbourne Football Club’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, both past and present, honouring the important impact they’ve had on the club and its people.

The jumper will make its debut in the club’s first game of Sir Doug Nicholls Round, when Melbourne face West Coast on Sunday 19 May.

The players will wear the guernsey on two occasions throughout the round, the second when they host St Kilda at the MCG on Sunday 26 May. 

For the third consecutive year, the club will rebrand to Narrm Football Club for the duration of Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Narrm is the traditional Aboriginal name for Melbourne and comes from the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung language.

This year’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round guernsey is now available on the Demon Shop, thanks to the club’s official apparel partner, New Balance.

For more information on Mali’s artworks, visit her Instagram page here.