IN CONJUNCTION with New Balance, the Melbourne Football Club is proud to present its 2016 Indigenous guernsey.

Melbourne players will wear the guernsey against Port Adelaide in Alice Springs in round 10 as part of the AFL Indigenous Round.

Purchase now

The Indigenous guernsey was designed by Wurundjeri artist Mandy Nicholson, in consultation with footballers Neville Jetta, Jeff Garlett and Jay Kennedy-Harris.

The stories behind the designs connect with the Traditional Custodians of Melbourne, the Wurundjeri people.

Jetta said it was important to have a guernsey design that connected to the MCG and the city of Melbourne.

“For the Indigenous jumper this year, we wanted to recognise and acknowledge the traditional lands that the MCG is built on. That was my thoughts about paying respects to the elders past and present and the Aboriginal people that still live on the lands here in Melbourne, on Wurundjeri lands,” he told

“I asked the club to contact someone through the Koorie Heritage Trust and then they presented Mandy.

“I gave her my idea and then it ended up being pretty simple design for her and it’s come out [looking] awesome.

“We’re pretty happy with the design [and] the communication between myself and her, and just the whole thing and how it turned out.”

Jetta said with Melbourne’s game in Indigenous Round being held in Alice Springs this year, he felt it was important to maintain a connection to the MCG through the Indigenous guernsey.

“The club’s gone down the Melbourne theme, changing our logo and really getting back to being Melbourne,” he said.

“We’d like to play [this game] at the MCG, but the next best thing is having the land that the MCG is on – our jumpers.

“It’s about paying respects and acknowledging, which is massive in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, to have on the jumper as well. So that was probably the main thing as well, to have that on our jumper.”

Nicholson said she created the design after consulting heavily with Jetta.

“I spoke to Neville Jetta, who basically gave me the idea of what themes he was after,” she told

“He wanted all of those traditional concepts included, as well as the modern concepts.

“It’s all about the timeline of the Wurundjeri people and our connection to this area. So there’s the traditional way of living and all our old people and our ancestors, into modern day today and also into the future.

“I use water a lot to depict that ongoing renewal of culture and you’ll see in a lot of my artworks that I often have the river in there and we’ve got this spiritual connection to the Birrarung.”

Nicholson said she was happy with the final guernsey, which needed to be carefully made to ensure it maintained the integrity of the design.

“I’m quite happy with the finished product,” Nicholson said.

“It had to be tweaked a little bit to fit properly on the jumper, to give it integrity because it was quite hard to put that design on that certain template.

“So it finally went on there really well and I’m quite happy about that.”

Every guernsey purchased includes a postcard that tells the story of the designs featured on its front and back. This full story is featured below.

The Aboriginal Flag and Torres Strait Islander Flag feature on the right hand side of the player issue guernseys, with the Recognise logo on the left.

The names of every Indigenous player to have represented the Melbourne Football Club are featured on the sides of the guernsey.

The Clubwill donate part of the proceeds from the sale of the Indigenous Guernsey to alocal Indigenous community in the Northern Territory.

About the Artist

Mandy Nicholson is a multifaceted artist who belongs to the Wurundjeri-willam (Woiwurrung language) clan, the Traditional Owners of Melbourne.

She has practised visual art since 1994 and studied Koorie art and design at RMIT University in Bundoora and Monash University.

Full Story

Front of guernsey

This design shows the wangim in flight mode depicting speed and fitness, connecting this to the attributes of the original game of Marngrook and the modern game of AFL. The wangim are embedded into the Birrarung (Yarra-river of mists) to show the connection to the Traditional Custodians of Melbourne, the Wurundjeri people. We are fresh water people as the Birrarung runs right through the middle of our Country, from the ngurrak (mountains) to the warinj (sea). It also honours the original course of the Birrarung before it was straightened and how it used to flow strong and cleanse the area by flooding annually. The small pathways seen throughout the river are the paths of our ancestor’s gurrong (canoes). These gurrong have travelled the waterways of Melbourne either for day to day life, but also represent the many visitors that come for large traditional gatherings such as the Tanderrum. This ceremony happens just over the Barak Bridge from the MCG. This traditional practise has been reignited since 2013 and is an annual event where the mobs of the Kulin come together to share and dance. These paths created by the many gurrong (canoes) are strong and will always be there. The 4 wangim also honour our ancestors from the north, south, east and west.

Back of guernsey

This design honours one of most respected Ngurungaeta (leaders), Beruk (William Barak). He has left an enormous legacy for his descendants by helping record our language Woi wurrung, the many stories of creation he shared, and his paintings predict traditional ceremony, which have all survived the colonial attempts to destroy our culture. The carved design is from one of his original shields and also connects to the fact that there are scar trees still remaining in the MCG carpark area. Scars are caused for the creation of gayaam (shields), gurrong (canoes), wilam (bark for huts). The Dreaming Track on the shoulder shows the many paths travelled by our ancestors across the generations. It also honours the fact that Beruk and a number of men walked from Healesville to Melbourne several times to ask for better conditions for his people at Coranderrk Station. The Dreaming Track on the waist is the Birrarung (Yarra = river of mist), such a strong symbol for our people, our connection to this river isn’t simply physical, but spiritual and emotional. Our creation stories that Berak has handed down explain how this river came to be.