North Melbourne has unveiled its 2023 Indigenous guernsey ahead of next weekend’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Designed by Wemba Wemba, Gunditjmara, Ngadjonji and Taungurung artist Emma Bamblett, the guernsey will be worn by the club’s men’s team against Sydney in Round 10 and Collingwood in Round 11.

The design, titled ‘Connecting Through Identity’, was inspired by the men’s team’s three Indigenous players, Jy Simpkin (Yorta Yorta), Tarryn Thomas (Kamilaroi and Lumaranatana) and Phoenix Spicer (Numbulwar), and their connection to their kinship Country and the club.


“This came about by yarning to all the players and a key interest in where they come from, who they are, who their mobs are, and their connection to their kinships,” Bamblett said.

At the heart of the guernsey is a football field with the outline of the Aboriginal flag in the centre. This represents the club’s home of Arden St Oval and Simpkin, Thomas and Spicer’s Aboriginal identity.

The white lines on the wings and the kangaroo tracks through the middle represent the players’ journey to be on the field and their pride in playing, while the mob of kangaroos to the left of the ground represent their different positions and skills.

Water is also a key element of design, with the three circles connected to the field by rivers representing the three players being brought together at the club by the waterways from their Country and the waterways that surround Arden St Oval.

The back of the guernsey features the totems of each player – the long-necked turtle (Simpkin), the platypus and the goanna (Thomas) and the Barramundi fish (Spicer).

North Melbourne co-captain Jy Simpkin in the 2023 Indigenous guernsey. Picture: NMFC Media

“Each one of us Indigenous boys have our own totems on the jumper, which is really cool,” North Melbourne co-captain Jy Simpkin said.

“Mine is the long-necked turtle which represents where I am from, my community and my family. So, to have that individualised for Tarryn, Phoenix and I is really special.”

The guernsey also pays respect to the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners of the land on which Arden St Oval sits, with the Bunjil soaring over the hills and waterways at the bottom of the guernsey.

Simpkin became the first Indigenous captain in the club’s history when he was appointed co-captain alongside Luke McDonald earlier this year.

He looks forward to proudly wearing the guernsey when he leads the team out during Sir Doug Nicholls Round – a round which he said provides us all with the opportunity to learn more about Indigenous culture.

North Melbourne co-captain Jy Simpkin in the 2023 Indigenous guernsey. Picture: NMFC Media

“Sir Doug Nicholls Round is obviously really special for not only me but for the rest of the club and the community,” he said.

“It’s a great way to open up conversation, not only for Indigenous people but for all of Australia to learn a lot more about Indigenous culture.

“It’s been pushing for a long time, and it is getting a lot better, but we’ve still got a long way to go. If kids can ask their parents questions and they can teach them, it will go a long way to helping stop racism not just in the AFL and sport, but Australia-wide.” 

North Melbourne’s 2023 Indigenous guernsey will be available in-store and online at the Roo Shop.

Bamblett will also design the AFLW Indigenous guernsey that will be worn by the team during the upcoming season.


Get your hands on the 2023 AFLW Indigenous guernsey