North Melbourne trying to distance themselves from historic identity

New chairman James Brayshaw and his board dug in, restoring the North Melbourne name and later reviving the Shinboners appellation, which was sewn into the players’ jumpers and highlighted outside the club’s refurbished headquarters. North would be its true self or nothing.


At least North was upfront about their previous re-branding. This time, they’re telling two different stories, one to themselves and their long-standing fans, another to the rest of the world.

Worse, they’re dumbing down their message. Shinboner spirit was and is a North distinctive thing. Fighting spirit is a quality that every footy club, every sporting entity in the world claims. It’s blah blah blah.

North’s pivot away from North Melbourne and the Shinboner spirit sits at odds with sentiments expressed by new president Sonja Hood as recently as two months ago.

“It’s changed in many ways beyond recognition, but at its core it’s still the same club. The essence is still the same. That value, that Shinboner [spirit] permeates everything and it’s absolutely critical,” Hood said on the Happy Dais podcast.

“This club has always innovated first, it’s always had to think outside of the square — partly because it’s smaller and we’ve had to, but partly because it’s who we are. We’ve always been an innovative club and I’m proud of that.

North Melbourne: struggling this season, but a proud club.Credit:Getty Images

“You should never forget where you come from, and you should never forget the people who put you where you are and who are responsible not just for the history of the club, but its future.”

It’s true. North Melbourne at their best have been resourceful, resilient and resistant. They’ve made up in heart what they lack in size. They’ve been pioneers. One instance serves to illustrate many: Friday night footy is now a cornerstone of the footy week; North started that. Most recently, North were a pioneering force in AFLW.

On-field, they’ve punched above their weight. Off-field, without the resources of a big club, they’ve been a good small club, highly active in their own community. They should be proud of that.

Kangaroos logo in 2004.

Kangaroos logo in 2004.

They’re in a mess now, but they won’t get out of it by some sort of Orwellian self-cancellation. Fudging their identity may or may not widen their appeal. It didn’t last time. But it also loosens their moorings. If the Kangaroos are not North Melbourne, they could be anywhere in Australia. That includes Tasmania.

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