When The AFL Clash Jumper “Policy” Goes Bad

When is a policy not a policy?

When it’s the AFL Clash jumper Policy!

For years it has been difficult, nay virtually impossible, to fathom the ‘logic’ behind the decisions from AFL HQ with regard to uniforms.

First their was umpires.

Umpires in white weren’t being seen or something so the AFL put them in all colours of the rainbow in 2003 only to send the umpires out in yellow to officiate a game between Hawthorn and Sydney. Sigh.


I've counted to five now come over here Hawthorn.
I’ve counted to five now come over here Hawthorn.

Then the AFL got their hands on the teams. The AFL directed all clubs to have an alternate or clash guernsey, preferably white now that the umpires had vacated that colour, so that one team would be ‘dark’ and the other ‘light’, to provide a contrast if the two teams colours were similar or if they deemed that the two teams colours weren’t significantly different once they had run the two jumpers through the AFL’s “colour computer” or something.

Unless of course if you were one of the big Melbourne clubs in which case you could put your head in the sand for a while and make up something about your club constitution and then produce possibly the silliest jumper ever seen – Essendon’s wide red sash. Or if you were Collingwood you could bleat about black and white stripes and tradition and then invert your colours and hey presto here’s the jumper we wore for 100 years before we changed it for no reason.


Really each time Carlton play Collingwood, the Pies should be in their alternate white with black stripes jumper and white shorts and Carlton should be in navy blue with blue shorts to provide contrast. But this doesn’t happen as the seemingly the big Melbourne clubs are immune to jumper clash rules. The light v dark theory simply doesn’t apply when Carlton play Richmond  – two dark playing strips.


Or contrast?
Or contrast?

The problem with the AFL system of jumpers is exactly that, there is no system. Some clubs have home jumpers and away jumpers, some have home jumpers and clash jumpers and some have home jumpers, away jumpers, and clash jumpers, and some have home jumpers and clash jumpers that don’t really fix the problem of the clash. There needs to be a system – either each club has a home jumper and an away jumper (that doesn’t clash with any other teams home jumper) or each team has a standard jumper and an alternate jumper that is used to avoid clashes with the opposition. Sounds so simple doesn’t it, could it work? Probably not if it was administered by the AFL.


However the biggest problem with the AFL’c calsh jumper policy, if you could call a random set of adjudications based on some vague notions of light versus dark and no recall of precedent a policy, is as follows:


If you can’t define a problem, you can’t fix it.


The AFL seemingly can’t use their eyes to definitively work out which jumpers clash, with certain matchings of jumpers going from being clashes to not being clashes over the years  – North Melbourne v Collingwood being a good example. How can you fix a problem if your not sure what the problem is?


Not a problem?
Not a problem?

Of course some of the designs that clubs have come up with for away jumpers and clash jumpers should definitely be vetoed by the AFL on the basis of common sense but seemingly that quality is in short supply at headquarters. If you’re not sure what I mean, check out some of the abominations here. Adelaide’s “Murder of Crows” guernsey is one that springs to mind, Western Bulldogs in red anyone?


Also shit
Also shit


White shorts.

The time for “white shorts for the away team” has passed. It belonged to a different era,  it is now dead. White shorts should be used for either home or away team when needed to help distinguish between the two uniforms. It’s not as if the rule is applied consistently anyway. Every away team playing at Metricon Stadium has worn their coloured shorts this year.


Home shorts at an away game? Treason!
Home shorts at an away game? Treason!

Just last year the AFL produced a classic piece of uniform nonsense, dictating that Fremantle had to wear white shorts in the grand final despite the Dockers shorts colour – purple – not clashing with Hawthorn’s brown and gold. The Dockers then decided to wear their white jumper with their white shorts as they had done all season. Why couldn’t the Dockers wear purple shorts? Nobody knows.

Thannk goodness Freo didn't wear purple!
Thank goodness Freo didn’t wear purple!


The nadir of AFL uniform stuff ups probably came late last year when Port Adelaidae wore it’s traditional prison bar jumper in a home game against Carlton who wore their away jumper. Good luck telling these two teams apart.



So far this season the AFL has delivered a mixed bag on the uniform front.

There have been a couple of common sense decisions: North Melbourne wearing white shorts in a home game against Adelaide and the Crows wearing their home jumper and dark shorts (anything to save us from the Murder of Crows jumper) and Geelong wearing dark shorts and a jumper with the colours inverted in an away game against North Melbourne who wore white shorts.

Common sense prevails. A rarity


At the opposite end of the spectrum there was West Coast forced to wear their white clash strip in a home game against Richmond.


West Coast have home, away and clash  jumpers. Yet the AFL forced them to wear there clash jumper at home.
West Coast have home, away and clash jumpers. Yet the AFL forced them to wear their clash jumper at home against Richmond.

That was rock bottom for the clash jumper policy until this week and the Port Adelaide v Richmond debacle.

Port were told, in a home final, they would not be able to wear their black home strip instead they would have to wear their white away jumper so as not to clash with Richmond’s black and yellow jumper. Port kicked up a stink and the AFL backflipped saying Port could wear their traditional Prison Bars jumper of black with white stripes plus white shorts and that would be OK becasue it wouldn’t clash with Richmonds black with a yellow sash. What planet are the AFL on? What a nonsense solution. First we couldn’t have two teams in black jumpers and now we can! Flash backs to Port Adelaide v Carlton in 2013.


Strangely there hadn’t been concerns raised about Richmond’s away jumper which it has worn at away games against Port Adelaide since 2010. Regardless Richmond are the away team, they need to be wearing the alternative jumper, and Richmond have plenty of jumpers they could have worn to avoid a clash.


Firstly their VFL clash jumper.


VFL clash jumper - colours inverted
VFL clash jumper – colours inverted


As quoted on the Richmond website when this jumper was unveiled:

“A VFL clash guernsey has also been developed, in accordance with competition rules, which features a reverse design – yellow with a black sash. 

The VFL home guernsey maintains the same look and feel of the Tigers’ AFL clash guernsey, however it has been modified to maintain the mystique and tradition of the Club’s famous AFL strip.”


Wow the VFL have straight forward clash jumper rules!

Ah the mistique of a yellow sash on black and of course the tradition. Yes, the tradition. Such as this second jumper the traditional heritage jumper worn in 2008 to celebrate Richmond’s 100 years in the VFL/AFL. Hmmm seems you need to put a time limit on tradition, otherwise you could end up with a jumper design from before your current ‘tradition’. Why not wear this on the weekend for the sake of  tradition?

Simpsonkvric46a (1)
Not Hawthorn


Thirdly any number of pre-season abominations


Richmond recruit Mark Graham in silver. Well played Terry Wallace
Richmond recruit Mark Graham in silver. Well played Terry Wallace


And lastly, hands up if you want to wear your training jumper against Port Adelaide?


Me, I do and me too!




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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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