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Essendon great Michael Long will perform a song by Indigenous music legend Archie Roach at half-time during the Dreamtime at the MCG game on Saturday night.
Long is slated to sing Roach’s The colour of your jumper – the song celebrating Nicky Winmar’s famed stand against racism in 1993 – in an ensemble including Mo’ju, Radical Son, Bumby and Roach’s son Amos Roach, in a game against the Tigers that is expected to attract more than 80,000.
Michael Long and Gavin Wanganeen at last year’s Dreamtime at the G game.Credit: AFL Photos
The colour of your jumper was written by Roach as a tribute to Winmar’s famed stand at Victoria Park. Roach passed away last year and was given a state memorial in Victoria.
Long, thus, will be singing a song that references a fellow Indigenous AFL great, whose lifting of his jumper in the face of racist abuse was the forerunner to Long’s stand in the Anzac Day game of 1995, which resulted in the game’s first mediation (with Collingwood’s Damian Monkhorst) and the introduction of a vilification rule.
Roach performed The colour of your jumper in the Dreamtime game in 2013.
The performance by Long coincides with the Bombers officially backing the Indigenous Voice to Parliament for the upcoming referendum, as the club seeks to re-establish its credentials as a leader in the AFL for Indigenous Australians.
Under new chairman David Barham, the Bombers have just announced the formation of a First Nations Advisory Council chaired by former player and new club board member Dean Rioli and including fellow ex-player Che Cockatoo-Collins and other experts in the Indigenous space.
Essendon’s wish to re-establish the Bombers as a leader in the Indigenous relations – the club having been a pioneer when Long and Gavin Wanganeen emerged as stars in the 1993 premiership season – has been helped by the recent recruitment of the father-son twins, the Davey brothers, Alwyn junior and Jayden, along with Wanganeen’s son Tex (recruited before the 2022 season) and rookie Anthony Munkara from the Tiwi Islands in the NT.
The Bombers also persuaded dynamic small forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti to return to the club this season after the Tiwi Islander retired from the game early last year for personal reasons, new senior coach Brad Scott having made a concerted effort to bring the popular “Walla” back to Essendon.
The Bombers also hired ex-star player Paddy Ryder, who left the Dons at the end of 2014 at the height of the drugs saga and was traded to Port Adelaide and then finished his career at St Kilda, to work as Indigenous development manager.
Barham said the advisory council would provide advice to the club on Indigenous issues and policy and in ensuring that the club is culturally safe for Indigenous players and staff.
The Essendon board issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the club was supporting a First Nations Voice to Parliament – a stance the AFL is also expected to endorse.
“Having consulted with the club’s respected First Nations Advisory Council members, the board has listened and will act on their recommendation – to support a First Nations Voice to Parliament,” the statement read.
“We believe that altering the constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice will enrich and benefit Australians.”
Long will complete another “Long walk” to the MCG before the Dreamtime game.
In addition to Rioli and Cockatoo-Collins, Essendon’s First Nations Advisory Board consists of the club’s head of community Leanne Brooke, board member and KPMG executive Dorothy Hisgrove, Kane Ellis (CEO of Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service), and John Evans (pro vice-chancellor Indigenous engagement at Swinburne University of Technology). Cockatoo-Collins is an executive with the NBN.
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