Occasionally, one tries to forget the weight of the world and escape by remembering the simpler times of one’s childhood.
As a sports-loving male Canberran primary school student in the late 80’s, it was incumbent upon me to be a part of the rugby league cards craze of the time. My obsessive collecting and swapping lasted four years, from 1987-1990, and seeing the images of the cards at Dan’s NRL Collectables online creates an instant nostalgia for afternoons spent playing pretend football games on my bedroom floor with the cards for players, wooden blocks for goalposts, and a scrunched up strip of paper for a ball.
But even in this relatively innocent world, the cards still leave a number of heavy, unanswered questions hanging on the soul.
Questions such as:
Did Steve Larder every actually dodge an opponent, or was he instead constantly dodging thin air?
Was this the best facial expression that Greg Florimo made during 1987?
Are these men rugby league players or serial killers?
Was this the best facial expression made by Greg Florimo in 1988?
After the disaster of ’87, couldn’t the photographer instead have let Florimo pose beautifully as he did Gavin Jones?
How many of the Roosters later obtained roles on Downton Abbey?
Why did Peter Jackson film The Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand when hobbits were already roaming the western suburbs of Sydney?
If Mario Fenech knew this moment was going to be memorialised forever, would he have closed his legs?
How long did it take John Cartwright to get over his constipation?
Did Michael Carberry ever notice that men would often cuddle his legs?
Has Kevin Hastings just thrown this ball, or is he about to catch it? If he’s just thrown it, how the hell are his hands now in the position they are in? If he’s planning on catching it, how the hell will he do so with his hands in the position they are in? If he’s neither throwing or catching the ball, what the hell is he doing with his hands?
When the Newcastle Knights gathered for their individual photos at the start of the team’s inaugural season in 1988, why wasn’t Alan McMahon more embarrassed about leaving his uniform at home?
Was this the best facial expression made by Greg Florimo in 1989?
Did Michael Pobjie not only dodge non-existent opponents, but do so in slow motion?
Back in the days when it was legal to use bongos as shoulder pads, what noise did they make when Laurie Daley was tackled?
How many complaints from animal rights activists did Mark Bugden’s consumption of a cane toad instigate?
Why did the photographer in the Balmain dressing room ask Benny Elias to pose, but not extend the same courtesy to David Brooks?
Do footballers actually play better with their eyes shut?
How often did Dale Shearer confuse his teammates with his inexplicable movements, as he did the guy behind him in 1988?
Exactly how excited was Greg Florimo in 1990 to find out that the photographer who had been trolling him for the past few years had decided to stop?
And why did the photographer turn his trolling to Peter McPhail instead?
Had the show existed back in 1988, who would have finished second to Brent Todd in ‘Dancing With the Stars’?
Exactly which collectors of rugby league cards were Col Fraser and Brian Johnston attempting to appeal to? And which of them was more successful?
And finally, has anyone ever won at rugby league cards as convincingly as Bob Lidner did in 1988?