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20 years on, Winmar's legacy as strong as ever

Wayne Ludbey's famous Nicky Winmar photo now sits proudly by the entrance to Linen House Centre.
Wayne Ludbey's famous Nicky Winmar photo now sits proudly by the entrance to Linen House Centre.

NICKY Winmar’s defiant stand against a torrent of abuse remains as iconic as ever, 20 years on.

Winmar famously raised his jumper to point to his skin and declare his pride in being black after savage racial abuse from Collingwood fans in round four, 1993.

The talented indigenous midfielder/forward was in career-best form in the early part of 1993, leading most media awards for the competition’s best and fairest.

The match against Collingwood was the first time the two teams had met since the previous year’s qualifying final, which St Kilda won.

It had also been 17 years since the Saints had won a game at Victoria Park.

Winmar put on another best on ground performance, with fellow indigenous teammate Gilbert McAdam not far behind, booting five goals in a win made all the more inspirational by the absence of star forward Tony Lockett.

At the conclusion of the game, which the Saints had won by 22 points after trailing by eight at half-time and with the racial abuse becoming even more vocal, Winmar took time to lift his jumper and point to his skin.

It was a gesture not captured by TV cameras, but football photographer Wayne Ludbey caught the act after hearing first-hand the abuse that had come Winmar’s way during the day.

The photo featured prominently in the Sunday Age and only grew in significance as Australian football took a stand against racial abuse, with Winmar perhaps unwillingly becoming the poster boy for the movement.

Attitudes to racial abuse in sport, and by extension society were dramatically changed from that point onwards and the photo remains one of the most iconic images in the history of the Australian game.

The National Sports Museum at the MCG is marking the 20-year anniversary with a showcase titled Black and proud: A stand against racism.

Guest curator of the exhibition Matthew Klugman said it was important to acknowledge the impact of Winmar’s gesture.

“It’s hard to think of a more important popular Australian image over the last two decades,” Klugman said.

“It’s up there with the 1968 Black Power Salute as a defining image of race and sport, and its enduring significance can be seen in the way it continues to be shown over and over again – in newspapers, posters, galleries and on city walls.”

A copy of the iconic photo now sits proudly at the entrance to St Kilda’s base at Linen House Centre in Seaford.

 

The National Sports Museum is located at Gate 3, MCG, Yarra Park, Jolimont and is open daily from 10am (check www.nsm.org.au for details). Access to Black and Proud: A stand against racism is included in standard museum entry.