Collingwood vs St Kilda, Round 4 1993 – Winmar takes a stand

April 17, 1993

St Kilda 18.18-126 defeated Collingwood 15.14-104 at Victoria Park

Brownlow Votes: 3 – Gilbert McAdam (St Kilda), 2 – Nicky Winmar (St Kilda) 1 – Brad Rowe (Collingwood)

Photo: Wayne Ludbey (The Age)

If visits to Princes Park to play Carlton and Hawthorn were the stuff of nightmares for lowly St Kilda (The Saints only won 17 out of 120 games there in 106 years), and visits to Windy Hill to play Essendon were akin to waterboarding (7 wins in 68 years), then visits to Victoria Park to play Collingwood were something only Dante could imagine and put in to writing, with the Saints winning on just 8 visits (out of 86) to Abbotsford in 96 years of VFL/AFL football, which included losing 58 of their first 59 visits between 1897 and 1961, the lonely win coming by 3 points in 1919.

Furthermore, out of the 1,471 defeats the Saints have suffered in their history (As of Sunday night), by far the biggest was Collingwood’s 178 point win at Victoria Park in 1979, which smashed the 60-year-old record for the biggest victory in the history of the VFL (Which the Saints were also on the end of thanks to South Melbourne), which still remains Collingwood’s greatest winning margin, although thankfully for the Saints, Fitzroy would better the league record only 3 months later at 190 points.

Fun fact, this game was also the debut of Peter Daicos for Collingwood

However, Round 4 of 1993 was to be one of St Kilda’s finest days in their now 150-year history.

In a rematch of the Elimination Final of 1992 (St Kilda eliminated Collingwood to win their first final in 19 years), the Saints downed the Magpies again, producing a big 2nd Half to win by 22 points (18.18-126 to 15.14-104), their first win against the Magpies at Victoria Park since Collingwood’s wooden spoon year of 1976, the win made all the more impressive by the fact that spearhead Tony Lockett was suspended and Robert Harvey didn’t play the 2nd Half, but the pair were more than covered by 5 goals from best afield Gilbert McAdam, and the all-round performance of Nicky Winmar, whose 60 metre goal on the run with 3 minutes remaining sealed the game.

The game would turn out to be the Saints’ last visit to Victoria Park before it was taken out of action in 1999, but what also gets forgotten is that while the 1993 game was the Saints’ first win against Collingwood at Vic Park for 17 years, it wasn’t their only win at the ground in that time, as they defeated the nomadic Fitzroy in 1985, while the Lions played their home games at the ground of their longtime neighbours.

The aftermath of the game also saw the details of the racial abuse Indigenous players Winmar and McAdam received from Collingwood fans come to light, and photographers John Feder and Wayne Ludbey would each take photos of Winmar pulling up his jumper and pointing to his skin, appearing in the Sunday Herald Sun and Sunday Age respectively, Ludbey’s photo accompanying Nick Place’s article under the headline “Winmar: I’m black and proud of it.”

This was the TV coverage of the aftermath from Channel 9 and Channel 10, featuring Eddie McGuire, many years before he would become involved in another story about Collingwood and racism:

What it also doesn’t include is the comment by then-Collingwood president Alan McAllister about the club not having an issue with Indigenous people, “‘As long as they conduct themselves like white people, well, off the field, everyone will admire and respect (them).”

Decades later (In 2020), it was documented by Russell Jackson on the ABC that Winmar and McAdam weren’t the first St Kilda players to be racially abused at Victoria Park, writing a story detailing the events of the game in Round 6 of 1980, in which Saint Robert Muir, through a torrent of abuse from Magpie fans and players alike, was provoked into striking Magpie Ray Shaw, for which Muir received a 4-game suspension.

While Muir would suffer in comparative silence, Winmar made an immortal stand, and while Ludbey’s snapshot seemed like a simple photo at the time, it would become a defining moment in the history of the AFL, beginning the steps towards combating racism in Australian football after nearly a century of turning a blind eye, culminating in the AFL implementing their racial and religious vilification policy (Originally Rule 30, now Rule 35) in 1995, which were finally enacted after incidents of racial abuse targeted towards Essendon’s Michael Long in the ANZAC Day game.

The event would also inspire a song written by the late Archie Roach, entitled Colour Of Your Jumper, which would finally be released as a single ahead of Indigenous Round 2013, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Winmar’s stand:

Fast forward 30 years, and the Collingwood Football Club issued a formal apology to Winmar and McAdam for the events of April 17, 1993, and St Kilda and Collingwood players ran through a shared banner on the Adelaide Oval, with Winmar looking on ready to toss the coin.

More poignantly, the photo of Winmar would be made into a statue by Louis Laumen, which was eventually unveiled outside Optus Stadium on Noongar land in July of 2019, an appropriate place for a statue of one of the proudest Noongar men to ever play in the AFL.

“Neil Elvis (Nicky) Winmar”

“A Noongar man from Pingelly in the South of Western Australia, played for South Fremantle, St Kilda and Western Bulldogs in a distinguished football career.”

“On the 17th of April, 1993, when playing for St Kilda against Collingwood, he lifted his jumper declaring “I’m black and I’m proud.” The image of his defiant gesture has become a powerful symbol in combating racism in football, sport in general and Australia more widely.”

“Nicky Winmar’s courageous act has become a statement for the rights of Indigenous people throughout Australia.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s