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Chris Johnson celebrates his family and Roys story in new Indigenous Round guernsey

29-May-2021

Chris Johnson celebrates his Roys and Brisbane playing years together with his own family history in a wonderful new Indigenous Round guernsey

By David Leydon

Over the next two weeks, the wider football community across Australia will celebrate the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Rounds of football.

Fitzroy will acknowledge the day at our Senior Men's home game at Brunswick Street Oval on 5 June against Old Carey. Our lunch event is currently on sale and we'd love to see you there, COVID-19 restrictions permitting!

The Brisbane Lions have given a strong nod to their Fitzroy Indigenous heritage with a sensational guernsey that they will wear across the AFL Rounds on 28 May and 5 June.

The guernsey was designed by legendary Fitzroy and Lions player Chris Johnson.

Johnno is a proud Gunditjmara man and he started his senior AFL career at Fitzroy in 1994. He was one of the eight players who went to Brisbane as part of the merger arrangements in 1996 and was the last of the original Royboys left at the Lions when he retired in 2007.

264 AFL games, three Premierships, a member of the AFL Indigenous Team of the Century and earning widespread recognition as the greatest back pocket player of his generation, are just the beginning of the Chris Johnson story.

Since retiring from football, he has had a desire to learn more about his own Indigenous heritage and culture. These days, he is employed as the Head of Engagement at the First Peoples’ Assembly in Victoria.

When the Lions asked him to design the 2021 Indigenous Round guernsey, Chris jumped at the chance to celebrate his own story together with the history of both Fitzroy and the Brisbane Lions in this new guernsey.

Johnno has always been proud of the Fitzroy Football Club and the starting point for the guernsey is the FFC logo in the middle.

Below the FFC are six circles that symbolise the 6 grounds the club used in their long history including, of course, Brunswick Street Oval. The guernsey also celebrates Johnno’s 28 teammates who played in the Lions' triple Premiership sides in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Chris's own family story is featured in the guernsey too, including four turtles that represent each one of his own children, and boomerangs in honour of his father.

In the lead up to the release of the guernsey, Chris Johnson and current Lions Indigenous players Callum Ah Chee and Charlie Cameron, visited Brunswick Street Oval to acknowledge Fitzroy's Indigenous history.

They were joined by current Fitzroy Football Club Indigenous player Aaron Tatchell and Under 19s young gun Lewis Johnson, who’s great, great Grandfather Joe Johnson was the first Aboriginal player to play in the VFL.

Joe Johnson played in the mighty back-to-back Fitzroy Premiership teams in 1904 and 1905.

Aaron and Johnno have known each other for a number of years and were rapt to come together again at such an important celebration of the club's history and young Lewis was proud to represent his family in honour of his legendary great, great Grandfather Joe.

Of course Fitzroy Directors and big time Lions fans Sharon Torney and myself were also on the scene and we presented Charlie, Callum and Chris with official Fitzroy Football Club beanies which they were very pleased to wear in the cold Melbourne weather.

And… what about that guernsey? There are two versions of it. The home guernsey in the Fitzroy style red, blue and yellow FFC logo and the white guernsey for the away game the following week.

Congratulations Johnno – the guernsey looks sensational and will undoubtedly be popular with all Fitzroy supporters old and new.

 


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