It’s the 50th anniversary season for the Penrith Panthers, and what better way to mark this very auspicious moment in the club’s history, than with some swanky new shirts? The Panthers clearly agree, because they’ve produced not one but four new NRL jerseys for 2016 – no time to waste then, let’s dive in…
The most striking part of the special 2016 design is a change from the Panthers’ traditional black and teal colour palette in favour of a suitably ostentatious black and gold. Gold is the colour for a 50th anniversary of course, and so it’s rather appropriate also.
The most striking and different aspect of this season’s shirt – and something that’s common to three of the four jerseys that we’ll be looking at today – is the roll-call of names that runs across the front of the shirt.
The names comprise every single player who have played 50 first grade games or more for the Panthers at some point during the last 50 years. From Mike Leary to Luke Swain, Kevin Dann to Sam McKendry, they’re all here.
The away shirt manages to achieve the rather impressive feat of somehow being even more eye-catching than the home design, by swapping black and gold for shocking pink and black.
It’s a great combination, though as with any pink shirt, the usual caveat that ‘it won’t be for everyone’ has to be applied. We get it, of course, but pink shirts are such a common sight these days, is anyone really that bothered any more?
One thing it’s kinda hard not to be bothered about, however, is the loud, proud and frankly silly panther motif that’s emblazoned across the bottom half of all four jerseys here.
We first saw the giant, slightly confused panther motif on last season’s away shirt and… yeah we hated it at the time, and honestly, we can’t say that it’s been greatly improved by making the aforementioned angry feline jump through a giant 50…
As if to prove that there are no shrinking violets in amongst our 2016 Panthers designs, the alternate jersey opts to palette-swap the home, and go full gold.
In truth, it actually kinda works – it’s showy, chintzy even… and yet we actually kind of like it. There’s no getting away from the fact that black and gold just works… they even wrote a song about it.
One 50th anniversary appointment that we do like is a small and subtle one, but it’s a motif that’s common to all four shirts this year.
Across the back of the shoulders are displayed the five evolutions of the Panthers club crest across the last 50 years – it’s a unique idea, but a very cool one.
The final jersey in the Panthers’ 50th anniversary celebration is perhaps the most interesting of the lot – a shirt that commemorates the very first Penrith first grade season back in 1967.
For that inaugural season, Penrith had wanted to play in black and teal, but as Cronulla-Sutherland had already registered that combo, the decision was made to instead opt for a combination of dark brown with a large white chevron – earning them the affectionate nickname ‘Chocolate Soldiers’
Like the other four 50th anniversary jerseys, the front of the design is sublimated with names, but unlike the other three, it’s not the 50-cap club honoured here, and instead lists the names of every player who appeared in a first grade game for Penrith in that 1967 season.
So what to make of the Panthers’ half-century jersey designs? Well, there are some design elements that we really like, and some of the colour options used are distinctive and cool… there’s no getting away from that awful Panther motif, which really does ruin these designs in its tackiness.
The one exception we can make is the 1967 design – we still think it would be GREATLY improved by the removal of the panther, but it’s a little more subtle there, and doesn’t totally overwhelm the cool 60s vibe.
The first game Penrith played in their 1967 season was against the Bulldogs, and Canterbury-Bankstown will again be their opponents when this shirt gets its only run-out – be sure to appreciate it while you can.