All that’s missing from rugby league’s first museum are the Vaseline stains on Arthur Beetson’s Queensland jersey.
The shoulder pads of the game’s first superstar, Dally Messenger, hang beside original jerseys worn by Clive Churchill and Arthur Summons. Leather boots worn by Norm Provan show their age beside modern-day warrior Paul Gallen’s, and the golden pencil of James J. Giltinan conjures the ghosts of league’s glorious past.
rugby league Central is now home to the history of the game as well as the future.
“In the house where the big decisions of the future are made, the history will be available and the doors open to the people,” said ARLC chairman John Grant.
Grant joined current and former stars including John Raper, Bob McCarthy, the Churchill family and Andrew Ryan in officially opening the museum on Thursday.
The highlight of the launch was rugby league’s oldest surviving premiership winner, former detective and world-famous acrobat Bill Harris.
Harris, 96 years-old, reflected on memories from a simpler time – training twice a year, wrestling the late Frank ‘Bumper’ Farrell, and team-mates like George Ellery, who played with only one eye.
Rugby league now has a home for many artefacts that were hidden from sight for far too long.
“The game’s photos and treasures have mainly adorned largely unseen office hallways or been packed in gloomy storerooms. Today, everything changes,” announced league writer Ian Heads.
The 1.76 metre tall Courtney Goodwill Trophy previously lived under a staircase at the old headquarters of NSW rugby league.
“I’ve seen this trophy my whole life, it used to live under a staircase because there was no room for it anywhere else,” said Scott Carr of CRL.
“It took four or five of us to move it here, it’s great for people to finally see this and remember how far the game has come.”
As Peter Sterling hosted a video tribute to the memorable moments of the last 104-years, the eyes of Bob McCarthy, Joyce Churchill and Bill Harris sparkled at the names on screen – Messenger, Brown, Langlands, Fulton, Lewis, Meninga, Johns and Inglis.
Rugby league’s true value was revealed on Thursday – memories not even $1.025 billion could buy.