News Collingwood wanted North to change its jumper to avoid a clash – all the way back in 1949

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Gibbsy

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Was digging around some old articles on Trove and found this pretty interesting revelation from August 1949. It puts to bed the theory that 'anti-clashers' like to perpetuate, which is that nobody had a problem with telling Collingwood and North apart for a hundred years and clash jumpers are totally for revenue purposes only. Nice to have a bit of concrete evidence.

COLLINGWOOD WANT NORTH TO WEAR RED SASHES
By Alf Brown, The Herald, 4 Aug 1949 – http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article243676970

When North Melbourne and Collingwood Football Clubs meet next, which could well be in a League final on the Melbourne Cricket Ground next month, Collingwood want North players to wear red sashes on their guernseys. In a letter to North Melbourne, the manager of Collingwood Football Club (Mr Gordon Carlyon) states that at the recent match between the two teams, the similarity of the uniforms was most confusing to players, umpires and spectators.

He asked that in every game between the two sides North should wear a red sash on their uniform, and added that his committee understood this was agreed to when North affiliated with the League. North Melbourne's secretary (Mr J. F. Adams) said Collingwood's request would be considered by his committee and added, "Evidently Collingwood are beginning to be afraid of North Melbourne, as they have never worried before about the similarity of the uniforms."

'OLDER CLUB'
Mr Adams claimed that North Melbourne was an older club than Collingwood and had devised the uniform before the Magpies. The Hotham Football Club (now North Melbourne) had been formed in 1869, and the Britannia Club had not been merged into Collingwood until 1892. Collingwood Football Club was formed the following year.

In 1908, said Mr Adams, North Melbourne were disqualified by the Association, but were re-admitted a little later. However, during North's period of disqualification, Northcote were admitted, and allowed to play in North Melbourne's colors. North had to find another uniform, and adopted a navy blue guernsey with a white monogram, similar to Carlton's.

North played in this uniform until they were admitted to the League, when they switched to a royal blue guernsey with a white V. "At that time there was no similarity between the North Melbourne uniform and Collingwood's, so why should the League have supposedly insisted that we wear a red sash when we played Collingwood?" asked Mr Adams.

'MAGPIES WRONG'

Mr Adams said Collingwood's claim about a red sash was incorrect, and quote the memorandum and articles of association of the VFL to support his contention. In this volume the registered colors of North Melbourne are: "Royal blue and white vertical stripes. Hose, royal blue and white hoops." Mr Adams said that in 1933 North applied to the League for permission to revert to their old uniform — the one now worn — and this was granted.

An official of the VFL said today that there was no League decision regarding the wearing of a red sash by North Melbourne when they played Collingwood. If a club desired to alter its uniforms it must obtain permission of the League.

In common with most football followers, I would like to see some more distinguishing features between the two uniforms when Collingwood and North Melbourne meet. However, the lead would have to come from a full meeting of the League, as neither club would voluntarily change their colors. I feel sure Collingwood, where tradition is most strong, would never change.
Some of the tropes in that article are still seen today, which is pretty incredible. Things like:
  • Club official references old league documents that probably don't exist
  • Club accuses another club of being scared of it because they start caring about what jumper they wear
  • Club boasts about being older than another club therefore having first rights on uniform choice
  • Journalist feels Collingwood would never change.
A week later, the league hits back and says that there was never any clash jumper mandate and the clubs should have figured it out between themselves by now, considering the issue first came to hand 16 years prior.

RED ON NORTH GUERNSEY NOT VFL MANDATE
By Alf Brown, The Herald, 11 Aug 1949 – http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article243691842

There is no Victorian Football League instruction stating that North Melbourne must wear a red sash on their guernsey when they play Collingwood.

The assistant secretary of the VFL (Mr Eric McCutchan) said today he had examined the minutes of a League meeting held in February 1933 at which four clubs — Melbourne, Hawthorn, St. Kilda and North Melbourne — had applied for permission to change their uniforms. Permission had been granted to the four clubs. Until then North's guernsey had been royal blue with a white V. At the same time it was suggested that to avoid any clash when North Melbourne and Collingwood met, representatives of the two clubs should confer and submit any recommendations they might have about guernseys to be worn in Collingwood-North Melbourne games.

"That was 16 years ago and the clubs have still not submitted any recommendation to the League," said Mr McCutchan. "There is nothing in the League's records stipulating that North should wear a red sash when they play Collingwood." Mr McCutchan said that any suggested alteration to a guernsey must first be submitted to the League for approval. North Melbourne's secretary (Mr J. F. Adams) said the matter would be discussed that night at the club's committee meeting. Naturally, North would be most unlikely to submit to a change of uniform. The side had been wearing their current one for 16 years and no other objections had been raised.

This red sash controversy has aroused considerable public intersting, and I have had several letters and telephone calls on the subject. Mr William Taylor, a North Melbourne supporter, suggested that one side should wear [red?] numbers. This would undoubtedly be a big help to [spectators?] but would be of little benefit to the players, who generally see the front and arms of team-mates' and opposing guernseys.

Another suggestion, by a reader, was that the League should have a club guernsey of colors, as in racing, which could be worn by the visiting side. "When Collingwood visit North Melbourne they could wear the Victorian blue guernsey with the white 'V'. North could adopt it at Victoria Park," he said. "It would make the two guernseys most distinctive."
What do you think about it all? Would the red sash have softened the blow and seen clubs bring in alternate strips much earlier than they eventually were? I personally find it quite amusing that Collingwood were still being so stubborn about it all, that long ago.
 

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El_Scorcho

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I'd never heard that about Northcote before, always wondered why we f’ed around with the jumper so much in the VFA days.
Mero could probably answer this better than anyone but I think a lot of the answer here is just what was available and affordable in the late 1800s.
 

Liam Boy

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Mero could probably answer this better than anyone but I think a lot of the answer here is just what was available and affordable in the late 1800s.
i know it's partly because of various changes to the club, such as merging with west melbourne and disbanding to try to join the VFL, but i didn't realise it had anything to do with what Northcote were wearing. There was a period where the club kept switching back and forth between the stripes and all navy, always wondered why that was. Were they taking turns with Northcote?
 

Mero

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Father Gerard Dowling wrote a very good history of the North Melbourne FC, called The North Story.
Most of this information is gleaned from that book and the time I have spent with Father Gerard.
North were always a pretty strong club, with many supporters from the earliest days. Even if that didn't translate to on-field success.

The only reason they weren't in the VFL when it formed in Oct 1896 (and played their first games in 1897) was that they were the reason many clubs wanted their own competition. Too often their supporters (and Port Melbourne's) would be trouble and given these clubs were too powerful to kick out, the others simply left.
North started in Blue & White hoops, as just about everyone did.
In those days it was either Blue or Blue & White.
Blue dye did not remove the lanolin present in wool, thus retaining it's capacity to repel water. White was simply un-dyed wool.
Players often wore caps to distinguish themselves, and some teams took to 'embellishments' such as the sash worn by Essendon.
In the mid 1880s North began wearing canvas lace-ups and decided on vertical stripes as a way of distinguishing themselves from Footscray & Geelong.

In 1907 North tried to join the VFL for 1908. However, the league accepted University instead. (Richmond were already accepted because the VFL coveted Punt Rd Oval)
The VFA didn't want traitors, and kicked them out, and only accepted a North Melbourne club back so long as the committee was removed.
North amalgamated with (took over) the West Melbourne FC adopted a Blue & White jumper with a Red sash.
(West Melbourne had been White and Red)
One could argue this is now no longer the club that was formed in 1869, but that's a separate discussion.
The committee was completely different people, the playing group was turned over (only 2 players from 1907 played in 1908), and the jumpers were changed.
The red sashes were apparently not sewn on very well and removed for 1909.
They were deliberately not the same as Northcote's Blue & White stripes, but then, there was also the element of them showing they were a different club, which was part of their re-admission back into the VFA.
North alternated between all Blue with small NM, and Blue & White stripes from 1910-1914, then in 1915 they wore all Blue again.
After the break for WW1 the return saw them again in Blue before merging with Essendon in an attempt to join the VFL.
It could be that Northcote adopted Green in 1911, and therefore North took the opportunity to go back to their old colours.
Northcote wore stripes in 1908 when they joined the VFA, but by 1915 they appear in a sold colour (possibly Green)
I don't know of a photo from 1911 of the Northcote FC, perhaps they adopted Green and North jumped back into stripes.
(If you want to know why teams didn't wear Green in the earliest days of footy: https://www.racked.com/2017/3/17/14914840/green-dye-history-death)

In 1921 North attempted to merge with Essendon, in another attempt to join the VFL.
Again the VFA kicked North out of their competition.
They sat out the rest of the 1921 season and ended up merging with Essendon A (aka Essendon Town) the VFA version of Essendon.
This team, with a new Board and new players adopted the monogram onto their Navy jumpers for the 1922 season.
In 1925 they were finally accepted into the expansion of the VFL.
As part of the agreement, they had to change from Navy with White monogram due to the obvious clash with Carlton.

When North adopted Stripes again in 1933 they had not worn them for 20 years. They had merged with two other clubs and had completely replaced their committees twice as well.

And therefore that would mean that the claim of Mr J.F. Adams from North that the club never returned to stripes in 1908 due to Northcote wearing them would be somewhat true. However, it appears they had ample time and availability to use them.
As far as being the oldest club, I'd say the North that exists today was formed in 1922 with the merger of Essendon Town and the amalgamation of West Melbourne and North Melbourne from 1908. They just happen to have been called the same name and played at the one ground that exists in North Melbourne, and therefore attracted the same supporters.

Additional sources:
 
Last edited:

Freshwater

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Father Gerard Dowling wrote a very good history of the North Melbourne FC, called The North Story.
Most of this information is gleaned from that book and the time I have spent with Father Gerard.
North were always a pretty strong club, with many supporters from the earliest days. Even if that didn't translate to on-field success.

The only reason they weren't in the VFL when it formed in Oct 1896 (and played their first games in 1897) was that they were the reason many clubs wanted their own competition. Too often their supporters (and Port Melbourne's) would be trouble and given these clubs were too powerful to kick out, the others simply left.
North started in Blue & White hoops, as just about everyone did.
In those days it was either Blue or Blue & White.
Blue dye did not remove the lanolin present in wool, thus retaining it's capacity to repel water. White was simply un-dyed wool.
Players often wore caps to distinguish themselves, and some teams took to 'embellishments' such as the sash worn by Essendon.
In the mid 1880s North began wearing canvas lace-ups and decided on vertical stripes as a way of distinguishing themselves from Footscray & Geelong.

In 1907 North tried to join the VFL for 1908. However, the league accepted University instead. (Richmond were already accepted because the VFL coveted Punt Rd Oval)
The VFA didn't want traitors, and kicked them out, and only accepted a North Melbourne club back so long as the committee was removed.
North amalgamated with (took over) the West Melbourne FC adopted a Blue & White jumper with a Red sash.
(West Melbourne had been White and Red)
One could argue this is now no longer the club that was formed in 1869, but that's a separate discussion.
The committee was completely different people, the playing group was turned over (only 2 players from 1907 played in 1908), and the jumpers were changed.
The red sashes were apparently not sewn on very well and removed for 1909.
They were deliberately not the same as Northcote's Blue & White stripes, but then, there was also the element of them showing they were a different club, which was part of their re-admission back into the VFA.
North alternated between all Blue with small NM, and Blue & White stripes from 1910-1914, then in 1915 they wore all Blue again.
After the break for WW1 the return saw them again in Blue before merging with Essendon in an attempt to join the VFL.
It could be that Northcote adopted Green in 1911, and therefore North took the opportunity to go back to their old colours.
Northcote wore stripes in 1908 when they joined the VFA, but by 1915 they appear in a sold colour (possibly Green)
I don't know of a photo from 1911 of the Northcote FC, perhaps they adopted Green and North jumped back into stripes.
(If you want to know why teams didn't wear Green in the earliest days of footy: https://www.racked.com/2017/3/17/14914840/green-dye-history-death)

In 1921 North attempted to merge with Essendon, in another attempt to join the VFL.
Again the VFA kicked North out of their competition.
They sat out the rest of the 1921 season and ended up merging with Essendon A (aka Essendon Town) the VFA version of Essendon.
This team, with a new Board and new players adopted the monogram onto their Navy jumpers for the 1922 season.
In 1925 they were finally accepted into the expansion of the VFL.
As part of the agreement, they had to change from Navy with White monogram due to the obvious clash with Carlton.

When North adopted Stripes again in 1933 they had not worn them for 20 years. They had merged with two other clubs and had completely replaced their committees twice as well.

And therefore that would mean that the claim of Mr J.F. Adams from North that the club never returned to stripes in 1908 due to Northcote wearing them would be somewhat true. However, it appears they had ample time and availability to use them.
As far as being the oldest club, I'd say the North that exists today was formed in 1922 with the merger of Essendon Town and the amalgamation of West Melbourne and North Melbourne from 1908. They just happen to have bene called the same name and played at the one ground that exists in North Melbourne, and therefore attracted the same supporters.

Additional sources:
I just love these historical stories of Australian rules footy. And why we can’t just lose these awesome football clubs that have contributed so much to fabric of the culture of football.
 

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