• The AFL's annual round which celebrates Indigenous players contribution to the sport and named after Sir Doug Nicholls takes place this weekend. (afl.com.au)Source: afl.com.au
The AFL's Sir Doug Nicholls round will kick off this weekend for Round 10, celebrating the contributions of Indigenous players to the sporting code and showcasing uniquely designed guernseys for each team.
Emily Nicol

24 May 2019 - 3:52 PM  UPDATED 24 May 2019 - 3:53 PM

The round will be highlighted with a 'Dreamtime at the G' match on the Saturday evening between Essendon and Richmond. Once again, each team will be donning specially designed guernseys for the round, each with a unique story.


Adelaide Crows

Artist: Andrew & Jonathon McLeod
Theme: Honouring Torres Strait culture

The main design is featured around the Dhoeri (Deri), the Torres Strait Islander headdress.

The Crow is facing down towards the ground, its beak being the head of a spear poised to strike — the spear sits in a woomera which makes up the main tail feather. The Kaurna shield sits central and is a sign of strength and protection against our enemies, four dilly bags make up the rest of the tail feathers, these dilly bags represent the strong women in our families and are also used to carry around important items on our journeys.

The dot paintings surrounding the Dhoeri represent us, we come from many walks of life, different families, different communities, different countries and often with different beliefs. Yet we are all connected as one, through a love for our own Indigenous game and unwavering support of our Adelaide Crows.

Brisbane Lions

Artist: Derek Oram   
Theme: The Lore places for men and women across the Brisbane region

The guernsey depicts 'the Lore places for men and women across the Brisbane region. Together the paintings display a traditional map focusing on ancient culturally important parts of the Brisbane Central Business District. The small white dots represent the old travelling pathways of Indigenous ancestors between meeting places. These tracks are now the main roads used to link the suburbs of Brisbane. The yellow circles spread across the mountains represent camp fires (darlo).  The black dots represent the women in the lower parts of country, close to natural springs and creeks which were used for sacred women business such as birthing holes.

The famous Brisbane Lion’s colours have been incorporated to display the sunset that blend the mountains into the night sky. Totems are placed within the stars to resemble the individual and unique significance of the Indigenous players heritage and strong cultural connection. Outlines in the stars depict the Emu, Flying Fox and Majestic Lizard which are just a handful of the Indigenous players totems. The story of the stars plays a strong role in Aboriginal culture and most indigenous cultures of the world.

Derek has used the traditional cross hatching technique to create the goanna, the Yuggara totem of Brisbane. The Yuggara people are entitled to protect the goanna through the Lore of the land. 


Artist: Shelley Ware
Theme: Warrior

Shelley says of her design, "When I think of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man, I think of a warrior standing strong and proud for his people. So, in collaboration with Taungurung Traditional Owner Michael Harding I asked him to draw the shield and spear of the warrior. To show the strength and grace of the warrior ready for battle. On the front of the guernsey I drew the Sun, the giver of life on the players left shoulder giving them strength and energy."

"My totem is the Wedge Tail Eagle. I included my totem to watch over and keep them safe. You can also see the paths the players have travelled from different communities to come together at Carlton. The back of the guernsey I designed with the thought of the people who have the players backs throughout their lives. Starting on their shoulders with the ancestors in the stars who lead the way before them and now watch over them and guide them in their lives. You can see the travel marks of their people and animal tracks on the land that walked before them. The women sitting together is shown to pay respect to all the women that have been present and supportive throughout their lives."


Theme: United as one

'Players are all united as one in the inner circle, which is surrounded by their families. The circle of dots represent the staff and those who provide day to day support of the team and their families. The symbols in the outer circle represent people coming together from all different places, with the outer dots representing the fans and the Collingwood community, much the same as a traditional camp.


Artist: Merryn Apma Atkinson
Theme: Club colours and an homage to player Michael Long:

Atkinson says, "Red & Black are for the Essendon colors. As well as Red for the Mother Earth & Black for the people. The circles & tracks are the towns and mileage walked by Michael Long & original walkers. The square shape symbols are Michael with his Colored Stick. The men who walked with him followed by the U Shape 4 women who joined him. And the following symbols both Aboriginal & non aboriginal people that walked and joined at different stages through out the walk. Then all the black & white feet are the testament of Michaels journey coming into Canberra all the people who came to greet from politicians and all walks of life."

"Then the remaining circles with people sitting around are the achievements of coming to the table as a blended community where and what the Long walk has created to this day.... Michael has opened...Many doors for our people not just in the sporting arena, but education & employment as well."


Artists: Troy Cook, with Victor Bellotti
Theme: Yamatji Country, Gascoyne River & The Sorry Day flower

Troy says, “The river was my oasis. Spearing, lashing, fishing and swimming with family and friends was a regular occurrence. The Gascoyne is not a flowing river but to witness the river coming down after heavy rains inland is an amazing experience which brings the surrounding area to life. Either side of the river are the tracks of a Kangaroo, Emu and Goanna.  The Gascoyne’s language groups are acknowledged and represented in people meeting around a fire. They represent the groups that remain and also those who have passed through over time. I was born in the year of the Dragon. At the bottom right of the Guernsey is the character of the Dragon, representing my Grandfather’s Chinese heritage, on my mother’s side. This Guernsey acknowledges a part of who I am and where I come from.”

The club guernsey also features the Sorry Day flower, having once again been given permission by the Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation. 'The flowers represents the native hibiscus, which survives in harsh conditions and is a symbol of strength, resilience, compassion and understanding with the purple colour also symbolising healing.'


Artist: Geelong Cats Player Quinton Narkle
Theme: Tribute to home and country

Narkle says of the design This year’s Sir Doug Nicholls round Guernsey is about the different language groups all around Australia that have come together at the Geelong football club which is in Wathaurong country. Firstly, the Guernsey includes the Bunjil which is the eagle."

"The Bunjil is the creator to the Wathaurong community. It then involves the Giant Trevally which shows our connection with the Arnhem Land region. And there is a snake like pattern throughout the whole jumper which symbolises the Rainbow serpent which is also a creator throughout my own Nyoongar Region."

"We have also put down on the jumper the names of all the different language groups that our seven aboriginal boys come from. Lastly, we have put the number 5 on the back of the Guernsey in a glow in the dark material in respect of Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer and what he has done for not only the Geelong football club but also Indigenous players.”


Artist: Jennifer Lulu Coombes
Theme: Tiwi Island culture and an homage to Cyril Rioli

The artist says, "The design features two prominent aspects of the Tiwi Island culture, Pukumani Pole and the Kulama ceremony. Front - Pukumani poles which are commonly used in ceremonies and are also placed around the graves of the deceased in order to protect the dead from evil spirits. Back - the circular figures are a depiction of Kulama Yam Ceremony. such ceremonies occur at the beginning of the dry season."


Artist: Mary Young
Theme: Tradition and Strength

Young, an artist from Santa Teresa, Northern Territory,  says of her design, "The Boomerang shape represents tradition and strength, and respect for the traditional Melbourne Football Club jumper. The circles are groups of men coming together as one and the line at bottom represents the linking of us all. The design down the side of jumper represents country” 

Port Adelaide

Artist: player Sam Powell-Pepper
Theme: Totems & strong community

Powell-Pepper says of the design, "The Goanna tracks in the teal V of the guernsey represent my totem back in Western Australia and the journey I have taken to get to PAFC • Emerging from the V are the waters that flow at the Port River and the importance this water has for the Port Adelaide community for many years, particularly the Kaurna people for whom this land traditionally belongs • Lastly, the tracks that cover the bottom of the guernsey are in honour of the best members and supporters in sport and who continue to support and cheer us on as we represent PAFC on the big stage.

"I feel so fortunate to be at the Port Adelaide Football Club and to have been asked to design a guernsey that represents how I feel about the club. I am very proud of the work we do in the Community; the outcomes we achieve within the communities and the barriers we are breaking down between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. I wanted to represent the strengths in my culture and club within the design."


Artist: Richmond player, Daniel Rioli
Theme: Celebrating the legacy of Cyril Rioli

Daniel says of his design, "The Turtle is my dreaming and spirit animal, and the spears represent men and power. The Pukumani pole represents my people, the people of the Tiwi Islands."

St Kilda

Artist: Emily Long (sister of Ben Long)
Theme: History of the Long family and the totems of their people.

The 2019 St Kilda guernsey was designed by and club graphic designer Megan Mitchell, represents the  The artist says of the design," I only recently started drawing as a way to learn more and feel a deeper connection to my family’s history,” Emily said. “It’s allowed me to interpret ancient stories in a modern way, and to have them featured on the guernsey is incredible."

'The front of the guernsey represents the Long family’s paternal grandfather’s ancestors, the Anmatyere people, who come from Ti Tree, Northern Territory. The three eggs and footprints symbolise the emu, totem of the Anmatyere people. The two watering holes represent the land that the emus frequent, connected by Twenty Mile Creek."

"The shark represents the protector of the Tiwi Islands, where Jack Long was adopted by the Kerinaiua family, where they were born and still live to this day. The back of the guernsey represents the Long family’s paternal grandmother’s ancestors, the Maranunggu people, who hail from Daly River, Northern Territory. The feathers represent the White-Tailed Sea Eagle. The artwork featured on the guernsey was hand-drawn by Emily Long and is a modern interpretation of traditional Indigenous artwork."

Sydney Swans

Artist: Adam Goodes mum Lisa Sansbury
Theme: Totems and Country

 Sansbury says of the design, "Guunya is the black swan - the wings have white in them which show he still has some white feathers to prove he was once a white swan. The body features a shield shape, this represents how Guunya protected himself against other birds. It also represents war/fighting."

"The diamond markings are also repeated in the landscape above the swan. the red water represents Guunya's blood. the bottom part of the design has 3 round circles to represent the bird's nests and the biggest one being the black swan's nest."

West Coast Eagles

Artist: Darryl Bellotti
Theme: Traditional ceremonial practice

Bellotti says of the design, " It's inspired by traditional ceremonial practice. Song, dance and ceremony are an essential part of Aboriginal culture. It's how we pay tribute to the land and spirit of our ancestors. Ceremonial dress features ochre and feathers, sometimes with a feathered headdress, on the dancer’s body."

"On the guernsey, feathered wings wrap around the player like a Booka, a traditional kangaroo skin cloak. The white lines are song lines to the sacred ceremonial area: the three circles located in the ‘heart’ of the guernsey. The circles depict the coaching and playing group in the centre, support staff surrounding them, and the supporters around the outside. Patterns like this were drawn in the sand during ceremonies, similar to the white lines of a football field."

Western Bulldogs

 Artist: Nathan Patterson
Theme: Player, Brett Goodes

Goodes says of the design, "Family — the most important element and the centrepiece of the design, represents my love for family; sitting at a campfire with my brothers Jake & Adam and Mother Lisa. Culture – I am of Adnyamathanha & Narugga descent (South Australia). Adnyamathanha also known as the “Rock People” of the Flinders Ranges, is represented in the artwork with the sun rising on Akurra (giant water snake) moving and shaping the Ranges around him."

"Narungga people are also known as the “Butterfish Mob” of the Yorke Peninsula, represented bottom left. Club – at the bottom of the design there are three footballs and three circles representing my connection to the club, my first role as Player Welfare Manager, my current role working in Indigenous Programs and my time as a Player spanning over 8 years."


Gold Coast 

Artist: Luther Cora
Theme: Country and Earth

Cora says of the design, "There are a few elements in the guernsey this year, in the background we’ve got the land or the earth, representing country, particularly the land we’re on here on the Gold Coast. Suns colours feature, but they’re also traditional colours, yellow represents women, red represents men and they’re both coming together on the one guernsey to represent our community. The hero of the guernsey is Jarrod Harbrow’s totem, which is the Yirriganydji (Jelly fish), but we also have the other players totems on there to represent all players," Luther explained. “The Dhari is on the back to represent Torres Strait Islanders, representing indigenous Australia as a whole.” 

Greater Western Sydney

Artist: Leeanne Hunter
Theme: Football Dreaming

Hunter says of the design, "It represents harmony, health, education and employment; the GIANTS’ four community pillars. The oval on the front of the guernsey represents a football, while the hands represent the people – family, friends and staff of the club – who support the journey of all footballers who play for the GIANTS."

"The two boomerangs that sit on the chest of the design are symbolic of the acknowledgement and connection to Indigenous culture, and pride in Aboriginality. On the back of the guernsey a large circle represents the club, the meeting place, where people gather in harmony and reconciliation, to be employed and to learn. The flying boomerangs around the meeting place are symbolic of the constant movement of life and the game of football. The footprints walking to and from the meeting represent a footballer’s journey."

To find out more about the AFL Indigenous Round, head to the AFL website.