Before the 2021 season kicked off, the Roosters were favourites in many people’s eyes to feature heavily in the finals series once again and maybe even win another premiership.
I was at the service station this morning and I saw the display of 2013 Rugby League ‘Footy Cards’.
And then I saw the price. $4 a packet.
What a disgrace to the game for working class heroes to be asking its young fans to cough up $4 a packet for Footy Cards. These are not company shares, they are Footy Cards!
Kids and some weird adults value them, but their actual value is short lived.
The real value is in enabling kids to collect them as a way of developing and cementing their love for the game. You want to collect your team, collect your favourite players and then you make some new ones along the way.
There was such a sense of accomplishment flicking through a full set of your very own Footy Cards.
Their value is in the conversations that take place around them.
Surely the point of Footy Cards is not about milking money out of the cards themselves. Surely it’s about creating future fans who will buy season passes, memberships, a jersey, a beanie, a stubby holder and a cap.
All with the new sponsor on them.
They’ll go to home games and yell at referees and touch judges, but really they are just mad they are paying $8 a beer and $6 for a pie at the Stadium.
It’s about creating future fans who will go on the road and paint their faces, or buy a cable TV subscription and sit at home and shout at the television full of passion, believing their yelling can change the outcome of the game.
Now it looks like the NRL want all of that, but they also want $4 for a packet of Footy Cards.
Sorry, but I think that’s a scam, and I don’t think you can have both.
As a young fan of rugby league in the years 1986-1989, I collected Footy Cards, and almost everyone in my school did.
To do that, you had to do your chores, keep your room tidy and be good for Mum, even when Dad wasn’t home. Now, you’d need a bank loan, or you’d need to take hostages.
To collect cards when I was a kid, I even stopped getting lunch orders, just so I had the extra money on top of my allowance.
You needed to buy half a dozen packets of Footy Cards each week to make sure you had them all by the end of the season.
You would always end up with 12 Michael Speechley cards, seven Dean Schifilitis and no Glen Liddiard or no Gavin Miller card.
As grand final week approached, you’d be standing outside the Milk Bar, with six sticks of gum in your mouth, flicking through packs of cards…no luck.
You’d hover in case a friend came by to get a pack, maybe they’d get one and already have it.
Every recess and lunch, you were out in the playground, trying to swap a spare Belcher or Hasler card, wondering, why how it was possible that everyone seemed to have 12 Michael Speechley cards?
Finally, you would find someone who’d swap you. They don’t want a card they are missing, they are massive fans of Michael Speechley and want all 11 cards you don’t need, 10 Big Boss Candy Cigars and two packs of Hubba Bubba.
You make the deal, what choice do you have?
Kids will be selling drugs or organs on the black market to get the full set now. Now when a kid asks their Dad to buy them a packet of footy cards, the Dad needs to be getting tips from John Elias just to budget for it.
I played rugby league for the Tumut Blues Under 10s and may go down in history as the worst player ever to borrow a pair of football boots.
I would run around the field commentating as I played: “Sullivan now, with the ball, what’s he doing this time? Oh! That’s a crunching tackle from the fat headed No 8 from Junee…”
Like Andrew Voss, I wasn’t a player and wasn’t that great at commentating, but gee I loved my footy.
Footy Cards were a big part of me becoming a massive fan of the game. I studied them, I knew every player.
I would never have been able to do that at $4 a packet. It’s grass roots stuff and the NRL needs to accept that every dollar they try and wring out of a kid now, is money they won’t make off a fan as an adult.
$4 a packet, I doubt school yards are full of kids collecting cards and talking about rugby league with the same passion we did.
Surely that’s what the NRL would want? Instead, we’ve got $4 a packet!
That’s over $20 a week, the kid might as well take up smoking.
$4 a packet would be impossible for families with more than one league fan in the house. It’s a disgrace NRL! Sort it out!
We need a rich billionaire like Bruce Wayne or Clive Palmer to step in and solve this. We need the government to introduce a Footy Card Tax.
We need to subsidise this in some way, because some of those kids are going to grow up and be CEOs and powerful lobbyists, doctors, politicians, coaches.
But if they aren’t outside the Milk Bar chomping on cheap gum and flicking through cards of their favourite rugby league players, they might just grow up as fans of another sport.