TO mark the Carlton Respects Game this Saturday night, the Game Changers will take to Ikon Park for the match with St Kilda wearing the distinctive orange socks.
From a Carlton perspective, the wearing of orange in support of gender equality for the prevention of violence is indeed a noble initiative.
But orange also features prominently in Carlton history, for as far back as the foundation year of 1864, it was resolved that the players of the first fledgling teams would take to the field wearing orange caps to go with their flannel shirts and knickerbockers. The Carlton team photograph of 1868 – the oldest known photograph of an Australian sporting team in existence – appears to show captain Jack Conway’s men sporting light-coloured caps (presumably orange) with band (presumably blue).
But when founders of the code failed to offer guidance on how the players were to be distinguished from their opponents, Carlton sought to remedy the apparent identity problem.
According to Hugh Buggy and Harry Bell, co-authors of The Carlton Story published in 1958, the club clarified its uniform in the early 1870s, recommending that orange caps with distinctive blue bands be worn by the players.
“According to a contemporary report: ‘This enabled the spectator to distinguish them from the motley colours of South Yarra’,” Buggy and Bell noted.
It wasn’t until 1871 that Oxford Blue was adopted by Carlton in the guernsey, knickerbockers and cap.
The rest, as they say, is football history.
Until the introduction of the AFL Carlton Respects Game in 2016, orange has not been part of the club's colours since 1870 – which is a shame given the irresistible combination of orange and navy blue.
From this correspondent’s perspective, the orange with dark navy trim would have made for a magnificent Carlton away strip, given the club’s historic link with orange and its important meaning in contemporary times.