After the Panthers had chosen the colours of brown and white (their royal blue and white scheme in the second division was considered to already clash for established clubs like Canterbury and Newtown), it came up with a rather timeless design, with brown being the dominant colour, with a white upper half and broken up with a solitary brown “V”.
This jersey was worn for only the first 2 seasons before being replaced with a new design, although it did made a comeback for the 1972 season.
Soon after their premiership debut, the nickname “chocolate soldiers” was coined by respected commentator Frank Hyde – “these chocolate soldiers from out west, they don’t melt!”
The Panthers in 1969 went for a rather radical new look, with brown and white vertical stripes, with brown and white hooped sleeves. It left many impressions, not all of them necessarily flattering, with one critic calling it a “jail-bird” look.
A tweak of the design was made in 1971, with the hoops on the sleeves replaced by the same vertical stripe design. It would return for three more seasons starting in 1973.
In 1976, the design was changed to one that had brown in the top half and the more dominant white in the bottom half, with white trimming on the collar and white, red and blue stripes on the sleeves.
In 1977, the club secured a sponsorship with Feeney Electronics, but by 1978 they were gone and was replaced by the players number on the front.
After three seasons, a new design was introduced which saw a dominance of brown on the torso as well as the trimming on the sleeves and collar. This was contrasted by the less dominant white, which was left only on the neck, shoulders and arms, with two brown stripes down the middle.
The colour scheme was reversed, with the other minor change being the trimming made white. This had been a design often seen between 1979 and 1984 but appeared to be settled as the main for the remainder of the 1980s and into the next decade.
There was also a return of a major sponsor on the front – starting with Alpha Micro Computers in 1985, and then Radio 2KA in 19886 and 1987, Penrith City Council in 1988, Calphos in 1989 and then Dahdah Uniforms in 1990.
This design would be the last of the “chocolate soldiers”, with its final appearance being on the club’s biggest match to date – their maiden grand final in 1990.
1991 saw a complete relaunch of the Panthers identity – gone was the brown and white, and in came a predominantly black design, with red, green, gold and white stripes. The red and white signified the eyes, tongue and teeth of the panther, and the green and gold was a purely patriotic move, being for Australia.
It would become affectionately known as the “licorice all sorts” jersey, named after the popular confection of the same name. There was also immediate success with this new design, with the club’s maiden premiership that season.
It was also the first year that there was a sleeve sponsor, with Triple M up until 1992 and then later 2WS FM from 1993 to 1995.
New major sponsors came on board in 1994 with Prospect Electricity (until the end of 1995) and then Tele Classifieds in 1996 (as a mid season addition after playing in a blank jersey at the start).
The design would be in for six seasons until 1996.
Penrith in 1997 played in the rebel Super League competition. Nike had been signed as the official apparel partner for the competition, and with that were given the task of providing a design. The jersey was intended to be debuted in 1996 but the Super League season was delayed by one year. There was a dramatic departure from the 1991 design – it looked like a tree growing from the bottom of the jersey with black and red stems growing outwards, and green trimming on the collar and sleeves. It may have looked good in the concept stage, but in the flesh the reality was that it was a monstrosity that looked like a zebra had been run over and flattened, with blood streaks in the same tyre mark style. Due to what was obviously IP issues with the incumbent Australian Rugby League (ARL), the Panthers logo was not on the jersey, and instead there was the Super League logo on the chest.
When reunification occurred in 1998 with the NRL, the design remained (with the return of the Panther logo and with the NRL badge). The jersey was clean (both major and sleeve) for this entire time in terms of sponsorship, with the exception of 1997 where Ansett Airlines was the sleeve sponsor, although this was the ‘default’ sleeve sponsor for most of the 10 teams. In 1999, Classic replaced Nike as the apparel partner, but the design was retained.
With the Panthers surviving the culling process in the late 1990s in the move towards rationalisation, the club obviously saw it as a rebirth. And with that, it attempted to reconnect with the glory days of the early 1990s, with a more contemporary take on the licorice all sorts design, with a predominantly black jersey, with three stripes on the mid torso – rust red, teal green and white.
It was initially released as a ‘clean’ jersey however, midway through the 2000 season saw the signing of the first major sponsor since 1996, with electronics giant Sanyo. This was the only sponsor on the jersey until late 2002 when National Telecoms Group (NTG) signed on as the sleeve sponsor. The last match that this design made an appearance was the victorious 2003 grand final.
With a switch from Classic to ISC came a new design. It was yet again another predominantly black strip, with rust red, white and teal green chevrons on the sides, enclosed with teal green trimming and a white collar. Sanyo and NTG were retained as the sponsors, however there were new sleeve sponsors with St. Mary’s Leagues Club in 2005 and then Parkview in 2006 and 2007.
The collar size was reduced in 2006. That year saw the introduction of a new sponsorship space on the jersey, on the rear below the players number. This was used as additional sponsorship for Sanyo – in 2006 it was Sanyo LCD TV and in 2007 it was Eneloop batteries.
Rugby league’s centenary year saw a new home design – the black base had been retained, but the torso was two toned, with a very dark grey colour introduced to the palette. On the edge of the dark grey were a series of jagged lines, like panther claws. The rust red and teal green were retained, but were less featured, with the teal green trim on the collar and rust red trim on the sleeves. It was also more of a T-shirt design with a round collar, and reflective of the evolution of the overall design template that was being seen throughout most other teams in recent seasons.
In 2008, there were new sponsors on the sleeve (Nepean Motor Group) and lower back (Tony Ferguson). Whist Tony Ferguson remained a mainstay for the new few seasons, there was a regular change with the sleeve sponsor. In 2009, Nepean Motor Group was replaced by ABCOE.
A redesign of the collar in 2010 saw a reduction in the amount of teal green, with more black added. The constant change in sleeve sponsors continued with Titan Warehousing in 2010 and then Onsite Cleaning in 2011.
The two-toned torso scheme was retained however the dark grey were now vertical stripes on the sides in the lower half of the torso. The rust red was now gone from the sleeve trim and replaced with teal green. The collar trim was also flipped with the teal and black swapping places. A new major sponsor also came on board with Oak milk, and once again a new sleeve sponsor with Cudo.
In 2013, the Panthers changed suppliers from Classic to Asics, however, the design remained the same for that season, and yet another new sleeve sponsor – Hertz.
Yet another tinkering of the design was introduced, with the vertical dark grey stripes now on the entire front of the jersey but tapering away on the sides. On the lower back, Literacy for Life replaced Tony Ferguson for 2014. Allam Property Group were a mid-season, short term replacement in for the remainder of 2015.
To commemorate the club’s fiftieth season in the top flight, the club introduced a black jersey with gold trimming on the sleeves and on the side panels. The introduction of gold was relating to the club’s “golden anniversary” but the tone of gold may have have also been a very gentle nod back to the brown of the chocolate soldiers days. The vertical stripes were replaced with the names of every Panthers player who had played 50 or more first grade matches. Dominating the design though was the club’s 50th anniversary logo on the bottom half of the torso.
VIA Careers were initially the lower back sponsor, but were replaced after a few rounds by Allam.
In what may have been a response to criticism that the Panthers had not really ‘nailed’ down a true identity with relation to their colours (as had been evident perhaps since 2000), 2017 saw the return of the licorice all sorts design – in a way. It had taken on the template from the 2014 jersey, with the stripes removed above the sponsor, and the first three of the stripes below being red, green and gold. Staying true to the template design, there was the same tapering off to the side. A gradient design was used for the stripes below, fading from grey to white to the bottom. On the sleeves, the red, green and gold stripes were used on the trim. In 2017, the same suite of sponsors were retained.
2018 saw the return of Classic as the kit supplier. It also saw for the first time the introduction of a ‘sternum’ sponsor which has previously been the place of the kit suppliers logo, which had been common place with other NRL teams for the past few years. The firs sternum sponsor was the East Side Quarter development adjacent to the league’s club.
The licorice all sorts theme was confirmed as a permanent feature with its retention, with the red, green and gold stripes now sitting above the major sponsor, with silver vertical stripes below. The three stripes on the sleeve trim was also retained. In 2020, the Panthers switched to O’Neills as their apparel partner with the design retained, with the only change being a more rounded collar. The design would be retained until the end of that season, with its final appearance being in the 2020 NRL grand final.
For 2021, the design remained generally the same, with the exception of the grey stripes at the bottom being removed and replaced by thinner pin stripes above the three coloured stripes, and the three stripes trimming removed from the sleeves. This particular design will become iconic as it was worn in the victorious 2021 grand final.
The same design has been retained for 2022, with the exception of a new sternum sponsor (Bluestone Home Loans).
Last updated 15 November 2021