Opinion "SHINBONER" Do we really want to keep using this word? (Verdict: YES)

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Boston tiger

Norm Smith Medallist
May 10, 2010
6,021
4,398
Where it all began
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No that would be wrong.
Interesting. Just that when you finally won one .. it was the check book and big big recruiting ...more glamour like .. than shin boner and the other time it was the Krakouers from the West and then of course the Carey era. Just seems as soon as a slide starts the word pops up again.
As an outsider I equate a successful Noth Melbourne with glamour more than shin boner. That might be an age thing.
 
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kangaroo7

Club Legend
Mar 17, 2002
1,840
1,373
Melbourne
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OK people it seems I've hit a nerve here. It amazes me how some can be so attached to a word that means what it does. Yes it's part of our history, albeit unofficial, and far be it from me to change history. Those who read my posts will know that I'm very much into the Club's history, and a lot of it is not pleasant. But let's take a walk through it and see what "Shinboners" has done for the club. This will be a long posting but please take the time to read it see why I think as I do.

It was very remiss of the club's founders and early officials not to give North a symbol or mascot to identify with. Perhaps they had more important issues on their minds such as survival. While most other clubs adopted various monikers, North went through their first quarter of a century in the VFL without an official identity. When cartoons of football clubs began appearing in newspapers what was used to portray North? Laughing Johnny Meere, North's long serving secretary.



08 30 (Herald) Gurney cartoon.jpg


The term "shinboners" was around by then, but its first appearance in a cartoon was in 1949. Ironically just before the kangaroo was first introduced in 1950. The cartoonists for The Age and The Argus persisted in portraying the club as a shinbone right up to when The Argus closed in 1956.

The_Age_17-Apr-1954_p11_Cartoon - Copy.jpg
Phonse Tobin with a coffin and a shinbone. (Age 17 Apr 1954)


This would have irked Tobin no end as he was the one who brought in the new identity, and it was a vast improvement on the old one.


Over the years at different times, North have been held back by various circumstances and events, most of them finace related, but others as well, including being "Shinboners":

1946 05 22 (SG) North must meet new challenge.jpg



1952 05 14 (SG) McCaskill changed North.jpg
1954  08 (SG) North's reputation.jpg






1954 12 08 (SG) North need discipline a.JPG



You see, this mentality had stopped North from possible success. The "us-against-the world" eternal battlers, always punching above their weight. Forget the game plan and discipline and get rough. And it still happens. Frank Trainer, Phonse Tobin, Brad Scott and possibly others saw the negative impression of "Shinboners" and tried to eradicate it. Not to discard the club's history but to improve it. Yet now the club has somehow twisted this into a positive---the "shinboner spirit". Never give up, never say die. If we come from behind and win a game it was the "shinboner spirit". But when we lose there's no mention of it. Where was it this season?

Living in the past has been the downfall of many a good team. Until the mid 70s North had no past to live in. No premierships and the least successful club. But then they built up a good list of players, got a clever coach and had a sound administration. That's what makes a team have success. I don't recall any mention of "shinboner spirit" then. But later on some people must have reasoned that "shinboner" is the only thing from the past worth remembering so we'll grab it and make a big deal of it--much bigger than it deserves.

So let's concentrate on our current moniker, one of the best and truly Australian one in the AFL. Time to move on and let go of "Shinboner" Goodbye, Farewell, Amen. of course the club should engender a spirit of not giving up, but if you are a battler or consider yourself the underdog, it's not something you advertise to everyone. It only makes it easier for the other team.

I know many of you will not agree, but I know that some do. To Snake_Baker, Grogg and others who like my postings, I appreciate your respect and hope I have not lost it. We all have our own opinion on this I'm sure.
 

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Jabba the Trump

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Oct 3, 2017
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Interesting. Just that when you finally won one .. it was the check book and big big recruiting ...more glamour like .. than shin boner and the other time it was the Krakouers from the West and then of course the Carey era. Just seems as soon as a slide starts the word pops up again.
As an outsider I equate a successful Noth Melbourne with glamour more than shin boner. That might be an age thing.
It was Denis Pagan who popularized the moniker once more just as the team began its rise in the 90s. In my opinion, he did this to build a team first culture so that at least internally, there was not undue reliance upon Wayne Carey to do it all himself. Shrewd man was Denis.
 

Hojuman

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May 20, 2012
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Get write-up K7 👍

Just from my view ( and my age ) the term was one that was drilled into me by grandparents and parents who revelled in being able to identify with that moniker. Hardworking, growing up in the area and fighting for everything on a daily basis. That's how they saw themselves as different from the succesful private school types supporting the MFC, the crims from Collingwood and the bloody Protestants up Mt. rd.

Maybe the admin's weren't to fond of it but the men / women who paid their tuppence for admittance and entertainment on a Saturday afternoon once a week had something to grab onto and feel good about themselves. Might not have bought us much as a club, but jesus, it made me feel like l belonged.

Ever see a weird bloke who shouts " carn the Shinboners " in memory of my great g.f. / g.f. / and father before the first ball is bounced, that's me.
 

giantroo

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Sep 23, 2005
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A quote that must never be forgotten.

Joseph is a true believer in the Shinboner spirit.

"At clubs with bigger memberships, their supporters only touch their colours, but at North we have the Shinboner spirit. North people can touch that spirit - they are the real Shinboners, they are the club," he said."






Bone of contention
22 September 2007 Herald Sun
Daryl Timms

FEW footy mysteries remain unsolved.But one that will probably never be unravelled is the mystery behind North Melbourne's Shinboner nickname and the so-called "Shinboner spirit".


Spirit of the Roos: Shinboner of the Century Glenn Archer.

Even historians and men who played with North in the 1940s cannot provide a definitive explanation of why and how the side was first given the moniker.

The general belief is that it's associated with North because so many of its players worked in the nearby meatworks.

Others have heard that the side had a reputation for giving an opponent the odd kick on the shin.

There's also the theory that Irish immigrants played hurling nearby and used their sticks to whack each other on the shins.

Kevin Dynon played his first game for North in 1943 as a 17-year-old.

Now 82, Dynon is still fascinated by how the club became the Shinboners.

"But I can tell you that no one knows and we could not find any base that could be agreed upon by any number of people," Dynon said.

"There have been various options put up, but no one can put their finger on what gave rise to the name."

Dynon, a champion centreman who notched 149 games before he retired in 1954, said a lot his teammates worked at the nearby abattoirs.

"They would come in of an evening for training and they must have worked in shorts because they had blood splattered over their legs," he said.

"And that gave rise to someone saying shinboners. Other theories were a lot more derogatory with comments coming from opposing teams that North Melbourne players were used to kicking people.

"So I just don't know."

But there is photographic proof that shinbones weren't the figment of someone's imagination.

Before the 1950 Grand Final, which North lost to Essendon, a butcher shop owned by Horrie McEwen in Abbotsford St proudly hung shinbones, decorated in blue and white streamers, from the verandah.

Kevin Hayes, who played a handful of games for North in 1947, said he worked alongside Charles Skinner, who formed one of the team's most famous centrelines with Wally Carter and Jock Cordner in the 1930s and early 1940s.

"One day I was working with him and I asked him how it all started and he told me that the side was so close together that it reminded him of blowflies on a shin of beef," Hayes said.

"He told me that as far as he knew, that's how it started."

Hayes married one of Horrie McEwen's daughters, Shirley, and remembers the shinbones hanging out the front of his father-in-law's shop before the 1950 Grand Final.

"I remember everything was going fine and they were swinging in the breeze with North's streamers on and then the next minute the health inspector came down and told him he had to take them down," he said.

"The health inspector said they were a threat to public health."

Even former Kangaroos coach Denis Pagan, arguably responsible for rejuvenating the modern use of Shinboner spirit, is unsure of the name's origin.

Pagan first learned of the term when he started his career with North Melbourne in 1967.

He returned to the club as under-19 coach and took the team to nine consecutive Grand Finals before becoming senior coach in 1993.

"I haven't really met anyone who can tell me," Pagan said.

"Was it started as a result of the Irish immigrants who played hurling on the North Melbourne Recreational Reserve during the 1930s when many unfortunate opponents were whacked on the shinbones by sticks?

"Was it a result of the 1950 Grand Final when all the butcher shops in North Melbourne had blue and white ribbons on the shinbones of cattle and sheep in their windows?

"Was it a result of the camaraderie and unity and mateship of a lot of those players because they worked in the abattoirs and meatworks?

"I honestly don't know. Perhaps it's more of a slang name or maybe it's an aggressive term of affection to be called a Shinboner."

Pagan said he asked people when he was coaching about the origins of the Shinboner spirit.

"I don't think there is any definitive explanation," he said.

But not everyone at the club has always been happy with the nickname.

Phonse Tobin, North president from 1953-56, was responsible for trying to rid the club of a tag he said was inappropriate.

"I always hated the name," he told Football Life in 1971.

"It projected an unfavourable image. I always thought, too, that the club could have a mascot we could show.

"You can't very well hold up a shinbone. In selecting a new name, I wanted something characteristically Australian.

"I found the answer one day when I saw a giant Kangaroo on display outside a city store."

Long-time North Melbourne administrator Ron Joseph has no doubts of the Shinboner origin.

"My understanding is that it was born from the abattoirs up in Flemington Rd," he said.

"It was just a geographical thing that the club was in Arden St and in close proximity to the abattoirs in the 1940s and 1950s.

"I suppose it was a bit like South Melbourne and the Bloods. In the 1950s, Phonse Tobin thought Shinboner was a bit unsavoury and he introduced the Kangaroo as the club emblem."

While the Shinboner was virtually unknown to many younger Kangaroo fans, Joseph said the term's use had grown significantly since the club's 125th anniversary in 1994.

A Shinboner of each decade was awarded in 2005, which culminated with Glenn Archer being named Shinboner of the Century.

Joseph is a true believer in the Shinboner spirit.

"At clubs with bigger memberships, their supporters only touch their colours, but at North we have the Shinboner spirit. North people can touch that spirit - they are the real Shinboners, they are the club," he said.

Club historian Father Gerard Dowling has heard all the theories about the origins of the Shinboner, but agrees there is no definitive answer.

But he says that while being a Shinboner might have been once a derogatory term, it's now a badge of honour.

 

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HongKongRoo

Club Legend
Jul 6, 2006
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And if Damo doesn't like it or understand it..............it stays.
Damo is trying to apply it to the administration of the club but it was never an administrative term, it always referred to the players and the supporters of the club. Can't imagine any boardroom starting a meeting with "give it your all!" or some other catchphrase.
 

Limerick

Premiership Player
Oct 2, 2006
3,311
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A quote that must never be forgotten.

Joseph is a true believer in the Shinboner spirit.

"At clubs with bigger memberships, their supporters only touch their colours, but at North we have the Shinboner spirit. North people can touch that spirit - they are the real Shinboners, they are the club," he said."



Kevin Hayes, who played a handful of games for North in 1947, said he worked alongside Charles Skinner, who formed one of the team's most famous centrelines with Wally Carter and Jock Cordner in the 1930s and early 1940s.

"One day I was working with him and I asked him how it all started and he told me that the side was so close together that it reminded him of blowflies on a shin of beef," Hayes said.



Thanks GR,
Kevin Hayes was my uncle and he and his wife Shirley are the reason I'm a passionate Shinboner :).
 

Snake_Baker

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To me it’s not about being a battler (necessarily). It’s about giving the finger not only to direct opponents but those who would seek to manipulate our identity through both patronisation or vitriol.

Shinboner means ‘fu** you’ to all those who aren’t a part of it.

Shinbones are also one of the toughest bones in the body.
 

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