1996 AFL Centenary: Sheetlet

1996, the 100th season of the VFL/AFL, saw many notable celebrations. One of these was the release by Australia Post of the Centenary of the AFL Stamps Series on the 23rd April 1996, the largest stamp issue in Australia’s history. Another was the setting up and the induction of players into the Hall of Fame.

The competition started in1897 as a breakaway from the VFA. The foundation clubs were Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, St Kilda and South Melbourne. In 1908, the league expanded to ten teams, with Richmond crossing from the VFA and University from the Metropolitan Football Association. As a result of the war University withdrew from the VFL at the end of 1914. In 1925, the VFL expanded from nine teams to twelve, with Footscray, Hawthorn and North Melbourne each crossing from the VFA. In 1982 South Melbourne moved to Sydney. The competition remained unchanged to 1987 when the second expansion team Brisbane was formed along with West Coast Eagles. In 1991 Adelaide was formed as a composite South Australian Team and Fremantle became the second Western Australian team in 1994.

There was much debate about when the Centenary should be held. The Bicentenary of Australia was celebrated in 1988 after white colonisation occurred in 1788. The AFL stuck to its guns and celebrated in 1996 after the competition was formed in 1897.

The unknown cover producer is an “addon” as the postmark has no date and the painting shows a Port Adelaide and Brisbane Lions Player (1997) with new AFL Logo (2000) and two umpires in coloured uniforms (introduced 2004).

Brian Clinton and the players in the 1996 issue.

Brian Clinton has been a long term artist and illustrator for Australia Post, the Bradman museum, several AFL Clubs, portraits and sporting memorabilia.

In 1996 when he designed the AFL Centenary Set of Stamps it was a strict Australia Post Policy that only members of the Royal Family could be shown on stamps when they were still alive. (Gwoya Tjungurrayi, a Walpiri-Anmatyerre man of the Northern Territory, also known by his nickname One Pound Jimmy, while still very much alive, became one of the first Australian persons to be featured on an Australian postage stamp in 1950).

Many people claimed to recognise AFL Players on the stamps. “Keen observers might detect strong resemblances to Wayne Carey, Matthew Richardson, Dale Kickett, Michael Long and Michael Mansfield in their respective team stamps.” (Football Record)

Stampboard users (an Australia Philatelic Bulletin Board) have proposed Tony Modra for Adelaide, Michael Long for Essendon and Sam Newman for Geelong. There is dispute over St Kilda between Tony Lockett (who went to Sydney in 1994) and Trevor Barker who unfortunately passed away soon after the stamps were issued. Others include Dale Kickett for Fremantle and Paul Salmon for Hawthorn.

One popular boarder quotes “I spoke to Brian Clinton about these stamps some time ago. You are right in saying the designs were modelled from footballers playing at the time but none of those pictured were of the team represented. For example the Carlton one was done from a picture of a West Coast player, the Melbourne one was from a Geelong player and so on. Maybe one day Brian will fully share the secret”

Australia Post changed their policy in 1997 with the initial Legends issue honouring Don Bradman.

Brian Clinton and Associates

Technical Information

Date of Issue23rd April 1996
Denominations45c x sixteen (sheetlet) & 45c x ten (Booklet)
DesignRankin Bevers Design (Stamps) & Janet Boschen, AP Graphic design studio (Booklets and Collection)
IllustratorBrian Clinton
PrinterSNP Canbec
Stamp Size26 x 37.5 mm
Perforations14.6 x 13.86
Printing ProcessPhotolithography
National PostmarkMCG East Melbourne 3002