True Supporter

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I am inspired by the number of absolute fanatical supporters there are in this great game. It is the Greatest Game on earth and I love to see deeply people love the game.

True Supporter, Interview 5 - 06 May 2018 -Tony Guinta

The Badger - The General - Badger's Eels Army

Badger has a heart which pumps Blue and Gold blood through his arteries and loves to give away prizes to the members he loves in his group.

  True Supporter, Interview 6 May 2018 -Tony Guinta

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

I grew up on the Western Suburbs of Sydney.  While my parents were still together I grew up in Auburn.  At the age of ten my parents divorced and we moved around a bit, lived at Dundas, Wetherill Park and Badgery's Creek, spent four years there, hence the nickname (The Badger). 

I have one brother with the same Mother and Father, two brothers with the same Mother, also two brothers and a sister with the same Dad. 

When did you start loving Rugby League, Parramatta especially?

I can tell you, when I was six years old, my Grand Father, God rest his soul, he is not with us anymore, he took me to Cumberland Oval in 1976.  I don't remember who we were playing but all I remember was the Parra chant.  It stuck in my head. 

Obviously that year we made it to the Grand Final.  I remember he took me to Westfield's, Parramatta to see the Parramatta players.  Westfield's was only three stories high back then and the team was there on the ground floor and my Grand Father did the Michael Jackson thing, hanging me over the balcony to see the players, for the first time I wasn't scared of heights because I could see the Parra players.  There was blue and gold streamers and balloons everywhere.  I still remember it to this day as if it was yesterday. 

My Grand Father (Alfred Foreman) was at Parramatta's first game back in 1947.  He was a very passionate Parramatta supporter.  He showed me the Blue and Gold light. 

How did your interests with the Parramatta Eels develop over the years?

The most obvious one was ten years later when my Step Father at the time took me to the 1986 Grand Final.  He was working at a Bus charter company and had organised a trip for the boys and he had two spare tickets so he invited my brother Malcolm and me to come along to the members stand.  There was a lot of Bulldogs supporters and every time Parramatta got a penalty, we would scream and carry on, we were only young at the time, I was 16 years old.  These Bulldogs supporters would scream "Sit Down!, Shut Up you two!".  At the end of the game, we gave it to them very cheekily and ran away. 

We won the game 4 points to 2, Brett Kenny was ripped off twice, I don't care what anyone says.  I was there to see that, that was amazing.  It was a great day, to see Mick Cronin and Ray Price go out that way.  We were sitting right above where Bob Hawke came out and gave a speech, it was amazing. 

Who were your favourite Parramatta players of yours as a kid ?

Eric Grothe has always been my idol.  Every time he touched the ball, I stood up, whether I was watching the game on TV or at the game.  My Mum said when Eric Grothe scored a try, whether you won or you lost you would spend the week cheering. 

When I was 17 I used to be a Trolley Boy at Woolworths, Bonnyrig.  I came in one day with a bunch of trolleys and there was Eric Grothe was sitting there in the shop, he had a big thing on his knee from his knee reconstruction.  I remember it was 87'.  I just walked up to him, I was so shy but I walked up anyway and asked can you sign this please?  He had Eric Junior in a pram.  I will never forget it. 

What Eels stuff did you collect as a kid ?

When I could.  We used to play the old flick the cards as a kid, or go off the wall, see which card you landed on. 

I remember I was about 14 and we were living at Minto and it was my brothers birthday and he was and still is a mad St George supporter.  There was a vacant block of land to where we lived and I made these goal posts out of wood and we played a mock game, Parramatta versus St George.  There was about seven players on each side and we all wore Parramatta and St George stuff.  I gave my favourite jersey to my mate and said you can wear this.  I even remember the score, it was 62 points all.  I remember my Step Father and my Mum and everyone carrying on. 

Anything I could get my hands on, Footies, caps, cards, you name it. 

Early adult years, before your Facebook group, how did you support your team during those years ?

I used to go to the footy whenever Mum would let me.  I remember going to the footy with Cheryl Bourke who back then was know as Cheryl King, she is in the Army now, somehow our paths have crossed again all of these years later. 

Back in those days there was no Facebook, so you would write Fan Mail, a letter to your favourite player, Eric Grothe.  You didn't always get something back, but just to know you were getting excited enough to write to the player.  Sometimes you did get something official from the club. 

    

I was married in 1990 and had a very strict wife, it is a long story, but she was the boss.  I didn't go to many games back then, it was just hard being married and keeping everyone happy.  I was an avid supporter on TV.  She went one way and I would watch my Eels on the TV. 

It was hard those years because as a club we didn't do a lot.  We had Mick Cronin as coach and Ron Hilditch and we weren't very successful, but we had a go.  Just because Eric Grothe retired, didn't mean I was going to stop watching Parra.  The way Eric would play the game and broke through tackles, every time he got the ball you would think he was going to score. 

I didn't know what was going on because that was the Super League war.  Parramatta bought Jim Dymock, Jarrod McCracken, Jason Smith, one minute they are loyal to Canterbury then they are loyal to Parramatta.  I was quite happy of course, it looked like we were going to do something.  It was hard, that marked ten years before we had won it. 

The thing I am proud about Parramatta is we had the deciding vote of whether it was going to be Super League or ARL and Denis Fitzgerald, not a lot of people like him but he was adamant that we are going to stick solid with the ARL and stick with tradition.  That showed how much my team means to football, because we are loyal.  A lot of people just took the cash.  Cable TV was just coming in, they were pretty turbulent times. 

What did you think of the Parramatta sides from 2000 onwards ?

2001 was very hard to take, losing the Grand Final to Newcastle who finished fourth that season.  I'll forget the fact that, when they had the cameras in the dressing sheds before the game you could see Andrew Johns and Newcastle all sitting down, calm, cool, collected, doing the breathing.  When you saw Parramatta in their dressing room, they were throwing the ball around like it was a hot potato, Brian Smith was doing this and that.  At half time we were losing by 24 points to nil, that was hard, I was actually crying.  I was 31 years old then and I cried.  As a result we ended up losing 30 points to 24 and I will never forget this, there was a knock on against Ian Hindmarsh and I swear to this day it wasn't a knock on and Newcastle went on to score after that poor decision which won them the game.  Heartbreaking stuff. 

How did you feel when Eric Grothe Junior started coming through ?

Was very happy as his Dad is my idol and just to see what he could produce and just seeing him run the ball you could see something would be on.  I was privileged to go to a game in 2004 against South Sydney, it was about Round 4 or 5 and the Rabbits had only been back in the comp about a couple of years.  They were in the top four, playing really well and I went to the game by myself and I will never forget this, Eric Grothe Junior picked up the ball just outside our own goal line and he ran just like his Dad, only difference was he was on the left wing and his Dad was on the right.  He pumped off four players and ran around to score underneath the posts and I was freaking out.  You know when you are at a game and you don't know someone, but because you are Parramatta supporters you start high fiving each other.  

So you didn't mind going to the games by yourself?

I used to do that all the time, after my divorce I was quite lonely.  I didn't mind, I just wanted to watch my team play football. 

It is a lot different these days since the Badgers Eels Army has come around I can tell you.

2005 season for Parramatta, should have made the Grand Final?

I was at the Grand Final Qualifier, 29-0.  We were Minor Premiers, had Piggy Riddell kicking goals, Daniel Wagon was playing for us, obviously Hindmarsh, Cayless.  It was heartbreaking stuff.  Dare I say it and I hate using this term, but we choked.  It was 18-0 at half time, I was there with my cousin Kim, the Cowboys they finished fourth that year too, I think we have a curse against teams who ran fourth.  Everyone was expecting us to just waltz into the Grand Final and so was I.  There was Cowboys supporters before the game saying we got this far, happy with the year, not expecting to win the game.  It was a surreal feeling, Glenn Morrison who played for the Cowboys the previous year, it was like he couldn't believe what had just happened. 

I remember the Security Guard came up to me, it was 20 minutes after the game had finished and my cousin said do you want to go? I said nope.  Lebanese guard, big fella said, "C'mon mate, you got to go" and I said "yea, what you going to do? Chop my head off!?"  He said, C'mon man in a nice tone, so finally we got up and we left and it was the hardest thing ever and I was holding back tears and driving home and a few tears came out.  My cousin said look, it is only a game and I replied :Shut Up!, it is not just a game, it is our religion".  So got back to Mums place and had a few beers and finally snapped out of it, it felt like the hardest thing ever.  29-0, not even a field goal, nothing.  After 2001, some four years later, that was very hard to take. 

How has Facebook affected you?

Facebook took off around 2007 I believe, that is when it came out, I only got on it around 2011 or 2012.  I was just on my own Facebook, it was all Parramatta stuff, and just being wild, pictures on the piss, I would swear on there, wouldn't matter. 

2014 came along and I was asked to be admin in an Eels group called 'The Eels', it was run by a fella called Dante Barcelona.  He is from the Philippines and a passionate Eels supporter, we just didn't see eye to eye, clash heads.  I made friends with someone from that group and we were also in another group called 'The Eel Deal - This is Eels Territory'.  Things didn't work out there.  This was the group where I first started giving away prizes.  I gave away things like a signed Eels cap.  Not many people know this but I have the privilege of working with DR Steven McNamara, who was once the Eels Doctor, he has been with Parra since 1995 and only retired last year.  Everything I wanted signed he would get it for me, I used to keep them for myself and then I thought why don't I just give it away.  Like I said the person running the group and myself just clashed heads, went our separate ways and a couple of people were telling me, Badger, why don't you start your own group?  I was thinking, should we or should we not?  I had a couple of ideas about how to run my group but I was down in the dumps from the previous group not working out. 

One day Shane Pearce who is from the shop who makes the Footy Shoes said to me, "Make your own page, I will back you".  I thought about it for a couple of minutes and thought, stuff it, I will do it.  So I added about 100 of my Facebook friends, put my phone on charge, went down stairs and had a couple of beers, it was my day off.  I came back up about two hours later and thought, you know what, what have I done with this Eels group, it was called Badger's Eels Army, they are going to think I am a wanker.  I thought they would be saying things like who is Badger, he has never played for Parramatta before.  To my surprise there were 63 people wanting to join.  I had some signed stuff to give away and thought, you know what, let's just go for it.  Within the space of a month we had more members than the group I was previously in and it kept growing because I had so much signed stuff that I wanted to give away. 

I was doing the videos, I like to be flamboyant, I have a sense of humour, I love music.  I wanted to do something different that no one else has done.  The whole gimmick about the group being and Army and calling me General Badger, I never called myself that, some joker kept on saying that, and one night after I had had a few beers I signed out of the video and said "Have a great night, signing out, General Badger".  I thought why did I say that for?  The next morning people would say hi General Badger, it started to snowball.  I don't need people to call me that, it is just a bit of fun.  My name is Tony but I preferred to be called Badger but because of the gimmick of the group, it's working. 

For a while there I was working with the awesome Troy Worner who has his own page called Parra Eels Army, he is a legend that guy.  Seriously check his cave out.  He was in my group, he was my First Officer.  When we were working together I thought because of his cave, let's make that HQ and make him First Officer.  It was working for a while and then he had a couple of ideas and I had a couple of ideas.  He actually got me to change the name to Parra Eels Army and Peter Wynn was like "No don't change the name".  Leave it as the Badger's Eels Army, you are a character.  You're not Parra Jesus or Laurie Nicholes, you are Badger, the General Badger.  Keep it Going said Wynn.  So for six weeks I wasn't happy because things weren't working, so at the end of the day we decided to go our own ways.  He has gone above and beyond now, he has over 5,500, maybe 6,000 members on his page.  Good luck to him.

    

I wanted to keep my little fun gimmick going, so we have done that.  We have had a couple of little hiccups along the way.  Now we are pushing around 3,400 members and I have a lot of friends since this, Eric Grothe, David Liddiard, Mick Delroy, Michael Moseley and obviously Peter 'Wally' Wynn.  They are right behind me and love what I am doing.  I just want to keep this off the wall group and the passion that I have and sharing that so people can have something different, and I like to entertain people too. 

I am lucky and blessed that I live at the pub, The Carlisle Castle, we started the Badge Draws at Peter Wynn's Score in Parramatta and we are able to film them here downstairs and everyone gets a pat on the back.  Peter Wynn gets promoter, my pub gets promoted, at the end of the day there is a Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner every week, that is our catch cry. 

In your own words, what does it mean to you to have this group, Badger's Eels Army?

It has changed my life, like I said to you earlier I used to go to games by myself.  I don't do that anymore.  I get people wanting to buy me beers, hang out, get photos.  I have made so many friends, I am not lonely anymore.  Believe it or not I have actually been asked to sign a few things. 

It is great, you get a bit lonely there and depressed at times.  I don't know if many people know this but I actually have a condition called Bipolar Disorder.  It is quite common, a lot of people have got it.  I am right, I look after myself, take my medication, I am lucky enough to work at a hospital.  This group has taken away a lot of loneliness and depression and everything else. 

This group is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  As a result of it I have made friends with Eric Grothe, my idol, and we are really good friends now, we hang out a lot. 

Why do you want to do Winner Winner Chicken Dinner Giveaways every week?

I have connections and I want to share them, I want to make as many Parra fans as happy as possible. 

We touched on this earlier, back in the 80's, how would you contact your idol, well you sent in fan mail, or whatever and once in a while you might get something signed, that would be awesome.  Here we are in the 21st century, technology, Facebook.  I have visualised a way to connect people, and I am not only talking about in Australia, I have been to Scotland, I have created fans over there, and I have got fans to be excited about Parramatta.  Like I said, I don't want a big shrine to show off what I have, and kudos to those that do that.  At the moment I am building up to something massive, I want people to understand they can come and be part of the army, bring people together.

My mate Jeff Harding, The Hit Man, former boxing legend, he introduced me to Peter Wynn because I was going in there buying prizes and I wasn't getting discounts.  He then looked at one of my videos and said, you know what, I want to help you.  He said you come here to do videos, I want to be a part of it. 

Peter Wynn pulled me aside one day and showed me this hidden hole in the wall and we walk inside and he goes righto Badger, what have you got?  He could tell I was nervous, he said "Stop being nervous, you are like me, you have two arms, two legs, a Parramatta heart, now talk to me".  I said here is my phone, here is a video, I will show you, I want to give people a chance to win stuff all the time.  I asked him, will you help me out with discounts and he said "Yes I will, I will do more than that".  See people get 20% off when they mention they are in Badger's Eels Army, I don't get 20% off, I get a lot more than that.  I get looked after.  Most of the time it is just because I have a little bit of money spare.  I don't mind spending a bit of money on the group, it has got to the stage where it is this successful. 

I am really interested in getting the club on board, I don't know how that will go, I am not very business savvy, Peter Wynn said you keep on fighting, there is going to be a time when it is easy for you, and now David Liddiard has come on board, he really wants to help me. 

What are your highlights of running the Badger's Eels Army?

Obviously meeting Eric Grothe and becoming friends with him. 

Here is one of the things that gets me, I walk into Peter Wynn's Score and they all go, look the Generals here or the Badgers here.  They will sing out to the back of the shop, Oi, Wally, the Badgers here.  It is all good fun. 

I love to entertain people, I am actually a drummer, if I wanted to be famous, without putting too many tickets on myself, I could get behind a drum set, which I am about to do again this year.  I can just drum to anything, I was born to drum.  I was also born to love Parramatta. 

What I have got out of it is I have made so many people happy and here's the thing.  People say to me Badge, I can't believe I have won, I never win anything.  I would bet on a one horse race and it would die before the finish line.  For me, the fact that I have made someone happy it makes my day. 

We were never rich, like I said, my Mum and Dad broke up when I was ten years old, that was hard to take for a while, but shit happens and you move on. 

I just wanted to share, I always wanted to be someone who just gives out.  I believe in karma, I give out it comes back. 

    

    

I have met so many friends, I have met some amazing people.  I go to a game now I go with 20 people, we hang out.  I have met people like you who donate stuff for my group. 

On a personal note, it has been a long time since I have paid for a beer at a game.  People will come up to me, General and want their photo.  Me signing caps and stuff, at first I would say, are you serious? 

People from the Badger's Eels Army have had a couple of parties together, end of year party, Christmas party.  They come all of the way to Newtown just because they want to meet me. 

Who are some of the guys from your group who have become personal friends with?

There is like Damian Gow, there is Troy Parra Howell Eels, there is Troy Wyburn, I mean there are so many.

There is Paul and Nicole and they have come all of the way here to meet me.  There was Lea Crockett in the early days. 

There was Kathy Pearson, unfortunately we didn't work out, we had a bit of an incident lately and she has gone her way and I have gone mine. 

There are so many people who have come along and it has blown me away. 

Obviously there are my Admin.  There's Brian Davis, there is Mark Britton, there is Trey Eams, obviously my cousin, she is part of the team. 

Ellisa Fajloun, she is an amazing chick and I love this girl so much, she is my First Officer now.  I bumped into her literally one day at Peter Wynn's.  She was getting something and looking at me and knew I was the General but wasn't sure about it and then I thought I recognised and it was weird.  When I got home she messaged me and asked were you at Peter Wynn's today?  I said yes and she said I think I saw you.  She was so shy.  We have become such good friends out of it, it is amazing.  My birthday last year, she absolutely spoiled me, got me an Eels watch, after shave, shorts, tooth brushes, you name it, she tucked it all in there. 

What about some of your experiences you have had when giving away prizes?

Alright, one in particular is Brian Davis, who is now an Admin.  Wally Wynn and I did a Badge Draw, and I asked him what should we give away this week?   and he said how about this Stats book, it has every statistic since 1908 to 2012, every try, every team member.  Well the guy that won it funnily enough is a guy who is fanatical about stats.  Now he was having a really bad day.  He was working somewhere away, he missed his flight, finally got his connection, jumped in his car, he ran out of petrol, filled it up with petrol, he was then ten minutes from home and got a flat tyre, changed his tyre and finally got home, he decided to check out the badge draw and he had won.  He inboxed me and said, I can't believe this, it has made my day.

    

Tina Williams has won four times.  She has won an Eels watch, an Eels jersey, Eels Scongo amongst other things.  She had previously never won a thing in her life.  I have actually met Tina, I went up and stayed at her place and she is doing it tough, she is not rich.  For me to make her happy, I mean every time I hear of someone winning and they had never won anything before, I have touched a lot of people. 

The amount of times people have in-boxed me, crying with happy tears, it has happened a few times, well a lot of times. 

It doesn't just happen, giving away prizes, you need to meet up with Peter Wynn, shoot a video, post the item, it is a bit of work for you?

    

The hard part is getting all of the names together.  The group has been going for almost two and a half years.  For about 18 months, or more I was literally writing down the names every week.  Now I have them there is a folder system names A to Z.  We are going to go to a new system this year, using a number generator (Which has already commenced since the time of this interview).  What will happen is, every time somebody comments, we are going to give you a number.  We will still do the video, still entertain them, I will still do my show off self.  Basically it will not be rigged, you will see me switch the switch, I will say, righto, the entries are closed at whatever time and if your assigned number comes up, it is Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner.  We will see how that goes.  People like the old fashioned way where they can see their names on the pool table.  It is becoming impractical, the last Badge Draw we did was a massive record, there were 320 entries and before that we had 203 or something.  Every week it is just going off more and more. 

What are the top five things you have given away?

Heritage jerseys signed by the players from the 80's, that has happened a couple of times.  Obviously every time Eric Grothe gets on board, that goes off.  There has been a few things, I had a jersey signed by the 2013 squad, I had it in a frame and Wade Sim won that, that was a record for ages, it was like 163 entries., it took a long time to break that record. 

It is just the excitement I get from it.  After I film it at Peter Wynn's I come back to the pub and I make another video and I know they are all watching from their computers, or their phones.  I will have a beer, tag everyone and work out what I am going to say and say it.  I will go to the toilet and come back and the phone is going off, 30 or 40 or 50 comments in that short time.  The first night it will get up to over 100 comments usually.  I like to run it for 5 days, just so it gives them all a chance.  Starts on a Thursday and ends on a Monday.  It breaks my heart when I hear of people realising it is over.  The person may have commented ten minutes later and I have to say sorry, I can't let you in there because it is over.  It is excitement plus and the pub loves it too, they are all behind me.  Every Monday, I pretty much take over the pool room.  There are a lot of people who want to come and watch the show, not even footy fans, they are just interested in what we do here.  

Let's give the pub a plug?

The Carlisle Castle in Newtown.  The people are fantastic, Jake Trindall was here and he just actually left recently.  We have just got a new Licencee taking over, but we have all of the girls downstairs, Stephanie, there is Sally, I call her Mustang.  All the gang, they all know what I am up to.

    

    

We just had a Christmas party in November.  I paid $300 for the food, I got $500 worth of food.  It was crazy, Steve the chef was trained by Gordon Ramsey in England, but he loves me.  See the thing is, a lot of people who work downstairs are not into football, but because they love me and what I am doing they are now Parra supporters. 

Why do you have a no swearing policy in your group?

At first it wasn't like that, probably about six or so months into it, we had some crazy nights like Tell us your best joke and win a poster, funny Meme's.  Then Michael Moseley came on board and he wanted to take us to a place where we had never been.  He said, Do you know what? You need to cut the swearing out.  Peter Wynn was just coming on to the scene then as well.  What I wanted to do was to stand out from other groups  There are a lot of groups where there is swearing, there is sledging.  I didn't want to put us in the same category as them.  I wanted to stand out, because we have kids on board, we have players, past and present, we have the elderly, you know.  We don't need that sort of stuff and I thought this will stand out and it is working. 

A lot of people respect that.  They will say you know what Badge, you might get drunk and post videos but we sit back and we laugh because you don't swear, you are funny, kids watch it.  There are people who have kids that are 12 years old that are in the group.  I have had a couple of 12, 13, 14 year olds who have won prizes.  I have sent prizes to New Zealand before.  I have sent prizes to Scotland, I have sent prizes to South Africa, just from people who are on the internet who love Parramatta. 

Tell us about what got you to Scotland?

Rab Glen from Scotland who has an Aunty in the group and she said to him, you have got to get into this Badger's Eels Army.  As a result we became friends and I went over there and did a Badge Draw in Scotland last year, it was awesome. 

    

The doctor was telling me you need to get away for a while, just go for a trip.  I had become friends with Rab Glen through my group and I actually thought he was a Parra fan living in Sydney and one night I was a bit down and told him that I needed to get away and he said, you ever want to come to Scotland you can stay at my place and I will look after you.  I had a few beers at the bar and I said that is it, I am going to Scotland. 

Rab was telling all of his mates about his mate from Badger's Eels Army. 

I had been there for five days he said my wife is away, I have to go and do something, here are the keys, make yourself at home and go down to the Boozer and have fun.  All of his mates knew about me but I hadn't met them yet and one day I went to the Boozer and this mad Scot yelled out, you General Badger, I know you, O I O I he says.  I went drinking with this guy.  I did the Crocodile Dundee thing saying I am General Badger from Australia. 

To cut a long story short I met a lot of friends in a short time and I reckon I converted at least 20 Scotsmen into Parra supporters.  Everywhere I went, I wore my colours. 

Here is this myth which I broke, people think Scottish are tight asses, bullshit.  I hardly had to put my hand in my pocket, every time I did they would smack my hand and say I ain't letting you pay. 

I went to England for a week after Scotland.  I went to Scotland with £2,000 and I left with £1,400.  They looked after me and on Christmas we video chat. 

None of this would have happened without my group.  Personally 2017 was an amazing year. 

So what is in it for you?

I am connecting Eels fans with the connection that I have.  I mean you can't go to another group and have the possibility to win signed stuff every week.  I make connections, like I said Dr McNamara, he kicked things off in the early days, he said to me, anything you want signed Badge, cap, jersey, footy, let me know. 

     

I can get stuff signed at a dime a dozen but thought why not share something with people who may be doing it tough who are Parra fans.  Like I said, I just wanted to make friends ad go to games.  I didn't know how long this thing would last.  I didn't think it would last this long.  It has blown me away, the fact that we have 1,000 troops has blown me away, then when we hit 2,000 I thought, this is too good to be true. 

On August 17th this year we are four years old.  I will never forget that date, and it was 11 O'clock I started it and look here we are. 

I have met people like you and Chris David's from Scongo who give away prizes and Peter Wynn obviously, he is promoting me.  Louis Murray from What is Your Team has agreed to come on board and start donating prizes.  I met him when Parramatta beat the Broncos 52 points to 4 last year in Brisbane and I stayed at Mark Britton's place.  Louis happened to recognise me in the pub and he came up to me and said Badge, I love what you are doing, any time I can help, I would love to donate.  I have rang him since then and we have something coming up soon.   

How do your Administrators help you?

I have my little cousin, Courtney Borg, she is my best mate ever, that is personal, she saved my life a long time ago, got me out of some depression.  She is Parramatta and her grandfather is also Parramatta.  She was my first admin. 

Alliysa Fajloun is my First Office now, she is an amazing supporter and fan. 

We have Mark Britton and Brian Davis who are Eels tragics, literally. 

we have Trey Eams who has just come along, he is just 15 years old, he is a computer whiz kid, he is going to help us out on a lot of things. 

They're all passionate about Parramatta, like myself.  We have a lot of plans to go a long way with this group.  We want to entertain and get creative, do things like skits, a bit of comedy here and there.  We are going to do a weekly Badge draw but every now and then we are going to do random stuff. 

I believe I have finally found my team where we can work together.  Unfortunately Mark Britton has just lost his brother on New Year's Eve. 

Courtney, I have watched her grow up, she is 19 years old now, she is quite creative and Trey Eams who is just an amazing kid who I met on the streets on my morning tea break, it was the day after a win, I had my Parra stuff on, he had his Parra stuff on I introduced him to the group and here we are. 

Theo and Ben who help with the videos and before that there was Adam Marshall and Bob Duncan, those guys were my main two.  Ben Thomas was there from day one, he was my first ever camera man.  He does the sound and the Cliff Richards 'Congratulations', that is the stuff he came up with and people love it. 

I can see a day for us when we can get really professional, do some voice over's and skits. 

Has there been any controversy in your group?

There has.  Unfortunately Troy and I couldn't work together.  He just went his way and I went mine, he saw a vision and went that way.  He is very shy until I came along into his life.  He got confident after that and wanted to do things his way.  Look he is a top guy and a massive Parra fan but it just wasn't to be.  So he went and started his thing and he is kicking goals.  I wish him all the best.  Someone described it as two egos.  I don't like to think as myself like that, as a character or whatever but we were like two deer's clashing heads. 

Just recently Kathy and I had a bit of a falling out with things, we weren't agreeing, she made some decisions that I didn't agree with.  I put her in her place and said a couple of things, she didn't like it, so she left. 

I have the best interests of this group at hand, I don't want any negativity, or any fighting or bullying.  A couple of times Kathy caught people swearing on my page and she put them on show.  I told her, you don't do that, you speak to them privately, it is a lot better that way because they don't feel embarrassed. 

It is a learning process and I am not giving up on this, I have come too far.  I want to go all the way. 

Tell us about the time you lead the Eels Army on a march to Parramatta Stadium?

I have the privileged to be the first person to ever lead an Eels march into Parramatta Stadium.  That is why Peter Wynn was upset, he got the paper and said, why isn't your name mentioned in the paper?  You are the one leading the march. 

Troy actually got the rights for that march to happen.

I had the drum there, it was an amazing experience.  There was a police escort, there were camera people, there were people from the Parramatta Board taking photos.  I am a drummer and I got into my element.  We started it at Prince Alfred Park, there was about 60 or 70 people, by the time we got to the Ray Price Statue at Parramatta Stadium there was about 120 or 130 people and the crowd was going bezerk, chanting Parra!!! Parra!!!  The noise was full on, and we were stopping traffic. 

Which Parramatta players have you met through your group?

When I was at the trial game with Jay Huxley and Troy Worner, Danny Wicks was there, he was playing Reserve Grade, as we were coming along Danny looked at me and said, G 'day General, How are you?  I nearly shat myself.  He said mate, you're doing a great job.  Semi Radradra knows who I am believe it or not because we turned up to Peter Wynn's one day and we filmed a badge draw for something else and Semi walks in.  Peter Wynn was like a little kid telling Semi, you have got to meet the General.  Semi really liked what I am doing, he asked what is going on with the group, I showed him the videos and he said that is great.  We had a fan day the next year, and he yells out, Oi General, how are you?  I remember you Badger. 

At one Fan Day the security guard was adamant that only one item could be signed and I had two jerseys to giveaway to my people.  Semi Said to the guard, What? Bullshit I will sign both for the Badger.  He knows who I am and I get a kick out of that. 

Eric Grothe said, "Semi is the only player who reminds me, of me". 

Brett Kenny was in Peter Wynn's shop and I walked in to do a video and Peter goes, "Look there he is now, there is the General"  and Brett Kenny goes what?  Wally said, what do you reckon Badge?  Do you want to give away a number 6 jersey, and we did it.  I was showing Brett Kenny the videos we do on the page and he said to Rob, start filming and Wally goes, right we have someone special here today, we have The General, The Badger and we did the giveaway for the Brett Kenny jersey.

On Easter Monday we had the Legends Day where we saw all of the Legends such as Ray Price, Peter Sterling and the rest of them, so I had a few grogs and I was with Brian Davis, my Admin and I saw Peter Wynn and he is talking to Peter Sterling so I walked up and tapped Wally on the back and he goes, oh Here he is now, here is the General and Peter Sterling says, I have heard about you and I replied, I have heard about you too.  He laughed and goes, I like this bloke. 

Ray Price was there and we were watching the game and they packed for a scrum.  He asked me, what is this? I said it's a scrum, he goes that's not a scrum, it is a group hug. 

Where can you see the Badger's Eels Army going in the future?

My main ambition is to one day get the Parramatta club on board, where we could do draws maybe at Peter Wynn's and we could draw them sometimes at the club with players present. 

I mentioned earlier that I am paying for the jerseys, I am getting them cheap, dirt cheap, but it is something I want to invest in, I believe it is something that has a future. 

We can create a group where you know every week people will win stuff, where players are on board.  If we can attract players to their club, it might be a Monday or Tuesday night, I obviously want to get their cash registers ticking over, a bit of sponsorship, access to the players.  I have connections now, but I could go a lot further. 

When I started this group, it was August 2015 and we were approaching the off season and I just wanted to get us through the off season and we did that with flying colours, we went above and beyond. 

I just want people to know that when they are in this group, they can meet players, get a photo with players, I can organise that for them.

What is the main thing that your group is about?

The main thing is about Parramatta.  Talking all things Parramatta, the history, the stories, the photos, telling us why you love Parramatta. 

    

This year there has been some negativity about the return of Jarryd Hayne, at the end of the day, he is wearing the Blue and Gold, love him or hate him, you have to support him for wearing the Blue and Gold.  Now I can't stand that Kieran Foran, never liked him.  I could never like him because he broke our hearts a few times playing for Manly, but he came to Parra so I had to support him.  When he left, he had some problems or whatever, I was happy, he was out of our team. 

Who are Badger's Eels Armies main Sponsors?

Daniel Pain from Dan's NRL Collectables, got the plug for interviewing him ;)

    

Peter Wynn, everyone knows Peter Wynn.

Chris Davis from Scongo, whack it on your scone and go. 

Shane Pearse from Footy Feet, unfortunately his business isn't going so well now but he gave us five lots of five shoes to give away for nothing.  I still have an original pair.  People were so happy, we were doing multiple prizes.  There might be five shoes available or five scongo's or like you from Dan's NRL have given away five sets of footy cards, so you have five winners in one draw.  They love that, they lap it up.  It is just about sharing the love of Parramatta. 

Tell us about your other activities?

I am a drummer, coming out of retirement.  The reason is it has been since 2015 since I last played in a band, that was called Night Attack, it was an Angels Tribute show.  It wasn't working, there was a couple of other Angels bands out there.  I have hardly touched the sticks since starting this Army, haven't had time for that.  The last time I touched the sticks believe it or not was with Eric Grothe.  I have the passion back and want to do that.

I play cricket every Saturday for the Redfern All Blacks, I love my sport. 

I am also a bit of a Star Trek fan, original series. 

My main hobby at the moment is drinking, having fun and living life.  I love my music too. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would just like to thank the people who have supported me through thick and thin but here we are.  I have made a lot of friends out of this group. 

I just love the group and I have been recognised wherever I go, around Newtown people yell out, General.  It blows me away. 

Having this whole pub support me downstairs has just been mind blowing. 

Creating Parramatta supporters all over the world has been great. 

 

True Supporter, Interview 4 - 07 August 2017 -Terry Williams

Terry Williams is the Curator of the museum at NRL headquaters, he has published a couple of books on Newtown Rugby League history. 

True Supporter, Interview 4 - 7 August 2017 -Terry Williams

 

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Beautiful, Ashcroft in Green Valley.  Pretty enjoyable childhood, saturated with sport, cricket in summer and football in winter.  It was the pre-internet era.  I am one of seven, middle child syndrome, six boys in that so we didn't have any trouble getting games of footy.  I played football all through my school and university days.  I wasn't as good as I would like to have been but had a lot of fun along the way.  After I finished playing I coached on and off for 20 years.  I was a teacher and when my son started playing I had 12 years coaching at his various schools, and with Concord-Burwood Wolves. 

When did you start your collection and what did you collect in the beginning?

I have always had a passion for history and as a kid I was very interested in war history.  My passion for league and cricket was a natural extension of that.  I started reading about Don Bradman and I would read anything and everything I could.  I remember in the 70's the Liverpool Library had the Gregory's Guide to Rugby League and Jack Pollard's 'Rugby League - The Australian Way' was about all you could get, other than the Big League and Rugby League Week.  Information was pretty scarce in those days, these days I don't watch TV, I look up information on old footballers.

How have your interests developed?

I was interested in both World Wars and I was a History teacher for ten years.  One of the things I have been doing for the last twenty years is researching Rugby League during the First World War.  I started with a data base of 10-20 players who served during the First World War, I am up to 1,300 now.  We are in the process of finalising a documentary on it which we are up to the final stages editing, waiting for a last installment of money.  SO if anyone out there has won powerball lately, give me a ring. 

What were your most memorable experiences with collecting as a child ?

I was probably restricted by what was around then, we didn't have a huge amount of merchandise as there is now.  I collected Big Leagues, Rugby League Weeks and I remember the Footy Cards of course.  Some of the bags you see and casual wear just seemed to be starting in the late 60's and early 70's. 

     

I remember going up to Miller Shopping Centre, I actually had a bit of a soft spot for the Dragons in those days, Graeme Langlands and Roy Ferguson were there, so I ordered a Dragons jacket which was a bit more stylish than wearing a Newtown jacket in Sydney's Western Suburbs. 

Why did you like Newtown ?

I was actually born in Marrickville and my father played for them in Third Grade in 1961, only a handful of games and my mother was from there, so I didn't really have much choice. 

What do you collect now ?

Having worked in the game for 20 years and having done a few books and stuff, I have made contacts, crossed paths with people here, there and everywhere.  Some of the most valuable stuff I have got has arisen from that sort of situation. 

When I did the first Newtown book I included the link between Rugby League and cricket.  There is a bit of a shared interest, quite a few of the early Newtown players were also prominent cricketers.

If you look at the seven guys who have played for NSW in both Cricket and Rugby League most of them have occurred before the 50's, Graeme Hughes is the only exception.  Billy Farnsworth is one of those.  Jack Scott scored the first ever try in 1908 against the Roosters and was later a Test Umpire and he was the first man to take Bradman's wicket.  I wrote a letter to Bradman asking whether he remembered these guys as League players, and I asked him about whether he played Rugby League or Rugby Union because the record books only indicated that the played Rugby as a kid.  He was kind enough to write back and tell me about his League career and told me he was a Full Back at Bowral Public School in 1920.  He said he was too small and wasn't real good at it. 

What other books have you written What inspired you to write the newtown book ?

Best book since the bible I tell people.  I have done a couple of books on Newtown, I did the photographic history of Newtown in the Centenary year of 2008. 

The first one was called 'Out of the Blue' and the second one was called 'Through Blue Eyes'.  The first one is sold out, they threw the plates out.  Doing the two Newtown books was a labour of love.  It has given me more pleasure than I could of have got otherwise, I look back and I feel privileged from the people I got to meet, the range of people I got to meet.  I showed Barry O'Farrell around here to have a look.  People who have a genuine interest like yourself, I like to show them around, because you get more out of the experience.

How did you get the job at the Rugby League Museum?

When I was teaching I gave it away to do a bit of journalism and writing of my first Newtown book.  Then in 1994 I was doing a bit of stuff for Big League.  In 1995 there was supposed to be no Reserve Grade and it was my plan to start up my own magazine for the competition that replaced Reserve Grade.  That became the Sydney League News, I nearly lost my house in the first year and it put a great strain on my marriage.  We managed to stick it out and part of the deal with that I was to do a couple of days a week with the NSWRL, subsequently that turned into a full time position.  It was basically doing the magazine, helping run the Metro Cup and basically doing the media stuff and coordinating results of matches.  I then did the magazine for eight or nine years and Terry Liberopoulos took it over from me and has kept it going and it has grown to the extent that the clubs.  That level of football deserves greater  level of scrutiny and support. 

    

I was made redundant just before the Centenary year.  Geoff Carr said they should speak to me when it was being discussed about opening this museum.  I was involved with the transition from Phillip Street to the National Rugby League Museum.  A lot of the day to day stuff fell to me and it was a kid in a lolly shop scenario.  When the museum was established and the doors were opened they said we are going to need someone here in a full time position and I was selected for the position. 

What are your favourite items in the museum?

We have a range of the cathedral items, the holy of holy stuff here, such as trophies like the Winfield Cup, we have all of the Big Leagues from 1920.  Before 1920 they made match day cards, Harry Hammill, Newtown player and first captain in 1908, was the one who started the Big League.  He actually tried to do something similar with the Rugby League Record in about 1913 but I think there was only one or two editions printed and it wasn't the official publication. 

 

Having the trophies and that sort of stuff, they are all high end items, we have just taken over the Rugby League Week archives, but some of the ephemeral items that relate to particular people for example we have one of Hammill’s scrap books and in there, there is a card relating to his daughter who died in infancy.  We have quite a few of Clive Churchill school team photos which were getting thrown out during a council clean up in Newcastle and someone called up and said you might want to come and collect these. 

         

There was teams for each year and one year there was a lovely little exercise book where somebody had written each week who they played against, description of the match, recorded the scorers.  It was about 1941 when Churchill was only a kid at school.  It is beautiful social history that you couldn't get anywhere else. 

    

    

    

We have had functions in here, high range things.  The best we had was the reunion for the 1974 Western Division team in 2014.  It was a real privilege and each of these guys have their own stories.  We have had functions for Kangaroo reunions. 

What are the highlights of your collection?

The Bradman letter would be one of my top five things.  I have a Kangaroo jersey that I have signed as well.  Most collectors go for a particular area of expertise, whether it be footy cards or programs.  I have always loved the ephemeral items.  When I was a kid I loved footy cards and the associated packaging on them as well and the magazines and stickers as well.  I have just gathered stuff like that along the way through and kept them.  For example in 1995 when they did the Redhead Matches, I have a full set of those, I have some footy cards from 1992 where I haven't opened the box. 

When I was teaching I often said to the kids if anyone in your family had old footy cards they didn't want any more I would buy them from them.  They were getting thrown out anyway and if I was going to swing them $10 or $20 they win as well.  I think the pictures of cards and stickers looked great in my Newtown book and those images look fantastic on T shirts.  I am just stuck in the past. 

My favourite era is what would be most relevant to most people and that is the period before you become an adult.  Maybe your memory is a little bit better and you are more impressionable.  The art work involved with the stickers from the late 60's and early 70's such as Wacky Races, I think they are classic, they are almost back in fashion now. 

You still follow Newtown these days?

I go to Henson Park whenever they play, I missed the first home game this year and that was the first home game I have missed in about 10 years. 

Total Value of your collection?

It is subjective and people always think what they have is worth more.  We don't have an acquisitions budget.  The scales of economy in Australia make it very difficult to pay for collections.  Payment creates all sorts of issues, for example if we buy a collection from one player and then the next guy comes in and wants more because he was a better footballer. 

We used to get school kids come in for a visit but there is no parking at the moment.  The fact that we continue to exist is an achievement in itself.  The busiest days we have at the museum are school holidays.

If you had to sell part of your collection, what would you sell first?

Being a Bower Bird, that would go against all of my principles, I don't do it for money.  I will let my wife answer that question when I pass away!

True Supporter, Interview 3 - 14 May 2017 -Matt Hielman

True Collector, Interview 3 - 14 May 2017 -Matt Hielman

Where did you grow up?

Kinsgrove until I was 19 years old

When did you start your collection and what did you collect in the beginning?

It wasn't until later on, I was always a Roosters fan, around 1978 when I was about 9 years old.  My first thing was when we played the Dogs in the 1980 Grand Final.  I still remember that image of how I felt we lost that Grand Final, I felt terrible.  I had Footy cards first of all and then jerseys and training shirts.  I didn't get into these until I was working and had disposable income and started collecting serious stuff. 

 

                       

What were your most memorable experiences with collecting as a child ?

I always had all of the card sets as a kid.  I remember playing the games at school as a kids, we would play flicks and swaps and I seem to remember some cards were harder to get than others.  I was excited when I got the whole set, I wish I kept those sets until now but I didn't. 

When did you start to get into other things ?

When Ebay came online and looking while sitting at home of an evening and browsing for Roosters items.  I am lucky with my work as well getting to meet lots of people and I also have mates looking out for me if they see any Roosters things.  So I started getting into the jerseys and the training shirts during these days. 

   

What are you focusing on collecting these days ?

That is a good question, the simple stuff do it for me anymore such as a plate or spoon set.  It has to be something that stands out and is unique.  I don't buy every years jersey now, I just buy the special ones and there are enough of those.  I buy every training shirt, people think I am mad but I do get them all, I would have them all since the late 80's and I do wear them.

I started collecting the badges, I really wanted the 74 and 75 badges and it took me a long time to get them.  I have been collecting all of the Roosters and SCG badges for each year, some were easy to get some were $10 and some were lots of dollars.  I still don't have all of the Associate badges, I may get them or I may not.  I enjoy the chase, the hunt.  I don't define myself on whether I have them or not.  I enjoy the badges probably the most. 

I have a bunch of Roosters Club journals from 1962, it shows players wages of the day, what player awards happened whether it be a chicken or a $10 voucher at the club, they are quite an interesting read. 

I have well over 1,000 Roosters footy cards, I don't have all of the Roosters cards that have ever come out, I can tell you one that I haven't got and that is the 2003 Luke Ricketson Jersey signature card.  I have a jersey one but not a signature one, again it is a lot of money for one card.  If I was on my death bed I don't think people will say you were a good bloke but you didn't manage to get that card.  I still enjoy the cards and I look forward to the new sets that come out every year.  They are making lots of cards which makes it hard for the kids, but for the serious collectors like myself that are prepared to pay the money.  One day somebody will get the benefit of what I have here, I don't know who that would be, maybe my grand children.  My favourite footy cards are the Kevin Hastings ones, mainly the Inspirations card from the 2005 Power Series.

Jerseys ?

The two 2002 framed jerseys, home and away I had signed by the fellers personally.  I had the cards and stamps put around the jersey. 

The 2007 Win jersey I won a good bet by putting money on the Roosters to beat St George by 13+ and they won 18 points to 4 and I used the profits to purchase this. 

I have the 1975 Premiers jersey framed and it is signed by John Peard and Arthur Beetson.  I have a Brad Fittler one signed and was bought directly from the club and it is limited to 100. 

 There is a Brad Fittler signed boot that is framed as well.  There isn't enough wall space with the likes of NSW and Kangaroo signed jerseys looking for a space as well. 

I have about 130 to 140 unsigned jerseys as well, I have quite a few and about 200 hats. 

Badges ?

I have SCG badges and they start from 1901 and go through to 1988.  NSW Leagues club badges start from 1952 and they go right through to 1989. 

I really wanted the 1974 and 1975 badges, they are not the best looking badges by comparison but they are the Holy Grail of Rugby League badges.  The 1971 and 1967 I had never even seen those badges anywhere, not in a picture or anywhere and one guy called me one day and said I have 1967 and 1971 badges, do you want them?  I drove from here to St Leanords and bought them.  I haven't seen them since. 

Why do you think people help you out with your collection?

They know I have the passion, they know what I am into.  I go to a few games, I live a long way from where the games are but I still go.  Even when we lose I still love the team.  Many times if people see something that is unique they will let me know.  Another example is I could have a mate call me and say he is at a Charity Auction and there is a Roosters jersey do I want it and how much am I will willing to spend. 

What are you favourite jerseys?

That is a hard question, seriously probably the one with my name on it, members jersey from 2015.  I have some aboriginal ones here.  There is an Arthur Beetson one that was limited to about 100 and it sold out quickly, I tried to get a large but they had already sold out so I got a medium.  I didn't make them again.  I have the marvel ones and they make a lot more of those. 

There is a light blue jersey which is a reproduction of the 1945 jersey and during the war time they didn't have dark wool so they had to use the light blue.  Mate when I die there is enough Roosters jersies so everyone could wear one. 

What are your top 5 things in your collection?

I like the wooden Roosters emblem, I like the different timbers and the idea that somebody has made that.  It is just different and I just like it. 

Dan Frawleys Kangaroo hat from 1910, he was the 7th player to be picked for Australia for Rugby League.  In those days when they played for Australia they were given a hat in their team colours.  I managed to get hold of it from a mate who knew a bloke, whoe knew a bloke, who knew a bloke who knew that I collected stuff.  That cost me a few bucks.  What I want to do that eventually is to put that on a head that turns and have a little video display of Dan Frawley playing.

The sign was a present from my wife and kids for my 40th birthday.  My mate came to deliver it to my house and I was wondering what he was doing here.  My mate is a massive Dogs fan and it must have killed him to do it and I appreciate that he did it.  It is a one off sign that no one else has. 

Dally M endorsed boots from the 1930s or 1940s a footballer would have worn those, they are made from Kangaroo hide. 

Dally M endorsed head gear and would have been worn by someone in later years.  I think it would have been worn by an actual footballer around 1930s to 1940s.

The Kevin Hastings signed jersey.

My badge collection.

There are so many things that I could pick.

Footy card collection?

I have three folders full of them, Dan has done a bit of work getting them together for me over the years.  There are all sorts of Roosters cards there, some old post cards, all the old Scanlens ones, Dally Messenger ones, Cains licorice ones, stickers and all sorts. 

I have a bunch of stickers, Ampol ones and ones that I had made up.

Other various collectable items?

I have a reproduction old Pop corn machine, obviously I watch the football here and get the popcorn going.  I have a reproduction telephone booth which houses all of my jerseys and in the shed I have an original telephone booth which needs to be done up one day.  Half of the battle is getting the stuff, once you have it you can assign time to do it up as a project but you can do it when it suits you, at least you have it.  Once you've got it, you have the rest of your life to do something with it. 

 

I am working on an alternate badge frame which is comprised up of special Roosters badges, some badges are recent and have been made for special occasions such as the ANZAC clashes against the Dragons.  They are quite special to me because they are hard to get.  I have the Club Challenge badges and the Back to Belmore match from 2013. 

Some kids drew these pictures of Freddy Fittler and I just thought why not, something different. 

These Todd Carney socks.  It was some sort of charity round and all of the players played in those. 

Some old Rugby League news with Roosters teams on the cover.

The old Footy boot, don't know where I got that from called the Barrackers Boot

The Artic Wolf poker machine, there is credit in there and it still works.

The Club Challenge framed magazine and the framer said it looks like it has been folded as it would have been taken home from the ground.  It still has the pin up and I have a spare.

Kevin Hastings is my idol of Rugby League, I am best mates with him now.  In 2007 I went to the opening game and I was in the grand stand and the lady next to me was on the phone and she said I am really sorry for making noise and I said it is alright, I am just watching the game.  I was in a private function, she said to me what is in your bag and I said a jersey and I'd like to get Kevin Hastings to sign it, she said why?  I told her he is one of my favourite players and she said I am his wife Lyn.  So we got chatting and I got to get my old jersey signed with a white pen.  He signed it beautifully, we have had a few beers together.  Kevin travels back and forward to the United States.  We were at a Hall of Fame dinner and I asked him for a photo and he took the Hall of Fame medal off and put it on me, which is pretty cool.  Down to earth bloke, great club man and great guy. 

I like to collect odd and unusual items such as a ladies ticket for the SCG.

As a Roosters member I was invited to have a photograph with the squad.

I also have a clouple of tattoos that are Rooster related.

 

Bruce Springstein is my other idol.  I have seen him 28 times.  The last time I saw Bruce I was up close and really enjoyed it. 

Over the Years how did your collecting change?

When I first started I would probably buy anything that was Roosters related, and now I don't just walk into a shop and see a hat or shirt because I too many now.  I don't buy every home and away jersey now, it is only a sponsor change. 

The marketing division of a lot of these places let people down now, it is all about the dollar.  They will make mass produced stuff for the normal people but won't make anything out of the ordinary for the higher level members.  The ANZAC jersey this year was just a Poppy on the front of it and it came out just a few days before the game.  If you live out where I live how do you go and get that jersey to wear to the game?  It was as if it was an oversight. This is what berates me.  The St George had Poppies all over the V.  Anzac comes around the same time every year and no thought was put into it.  They put so much effort into the Marvel round which is a non consequential round, it is a chance to make more money.  I didn't buy it this year.

Living out here my priorities have changed somewhat.  While it is an amazing room, I don't spend much time in it.  I am out in the paddock and play with the dogs and in winter time I watch the footy in the lounge room with the fire going. 

What is the Holy Grail that has eluded you over the years?

The rest of the Associate badges, I may never see them and if someone wants to offer me the Luke Ricketson jersey signature card at a reasonable price I might take it.  They are about $400 a card and that money can go a long way somewhere else. 

Total Value of your collection?

I don't put any value of a jersey more than any other, to me they are all the same.  I wear most of them.  I look after everything I have got. 

There are some cards that I think are more valuable than others, and we are not talking about in dollars.  Look these jerseys come out and they cost $160 then you see them in the shop the following year for $50 - $60.  I buy them early because I like to get them and wear them.  Some do sell out. 

The cards I get most of the cards from you, Dansnrl, I don't worry too much about ebay, I go straight to the source you and you give me a good discount. 

The badges they can start at $2 and some go for $200.  If I needed to sell the badges they would sell, they are very collectable.

There is this old team picture I picked up pretty cheap and it is probably not worth much to anyone else, it is a picture of the Third Grade side, not the First Grade, but to me it is a talking point.  I like to get different things.  It is never about the money, I just like to collect different things and to be honest I am struggling to find something that tickles my fancy.  It is more the hunt. 

You could put two and two together and add up the jerseys.  I don't smoke, I enjoy it.  You could ask me what I spent it is probably more than it is worth.

If you had to sell part of your collection, what would you sell first?

It wouldn't be the badges, it would be the jerseys.  I have enough and I have 1978 and 1986 Kangaroo teams and the State of Origin ones that my mate has had signed.  I love my footy all around.

True Supporter, Interview 2 - 01 March 2017 - Chris Atkinson

Chris Atkinson is a collector of Rugby League knowledge, stats and facts memorised.

True Collector, Interview 2 - 01 March 2017 - Chris Atkinson

Where did you grow up?

Allawah, heart of St George Dragons territory, I lived no more than a ten minute walk from Kogarah Oval.

When did you start your obsession with rugby league?

My Dad used to take me to the game when I was a kid and just fell in love with the game. 

What were your most memorable experiences of rugby league as a child ?

I remember going to a game when I was 8 years old, Canterbury v St George at Kogarah Oval.  Ricky Walford scored 26 points in that game. 

What did you collect as a kid ?

I wouldn't say I was a big collector, I remember in 1994 there was a sticker book and footy cards and David Middleton Stat books.  The 1990 season they were really pushing this book called Rugby League 1989/90 and a few weeks later my mum asked what I want for my 9th birthday and I said I want this book.  I read that book cover to cover, once I opened it I couldn't put it down. 

I used to read the Big League and Rugby League Weeks, I would always ask Dad to get me the Big League.

When did you realise you were remembering match details such as scores and crowds?

I have always been a big fan of Rugby League, but the 1989 season was when I really started to get into it.  I started watching all the games that were televised and just remembered all of the stats such as crowd numbers.  I was nine years old and I remembered details from the games I was at and then that book I remembered all of those details. 

Tell us about your passion for the Dragons?

When I was old enough to go to the games myself, I would always try and rock up to the lower grades as well.  On the days I didn't go to the ground we could still heard the crowd because we lived so close and if you could hear them we knew Saints had won.

In 1997 I went to most games, only missing two times and in 1998 and 1999 I went to every game.  2000 to 2002 they left Kogarah and I just went to games here and there and then in 2003 they returned to Kogarah and I went to every game again and most games down at Wollongong.  Now days I still go to the Kogarah games and Anzac matches, when they started the Red V membership since they started it in 2002.  In 2008 I let it lapse, I did have a seat in the Grand stand and pretty much lost it with that one year lapse and now I am on the hill which is not a drama for me because that is where I used to go and watch it with my Dad.  The atmosphere in the hill is awesome and the grand stand there is no cheering or anything. 

What are you focusing on collecting these days ?

I kept collecting the David Middleton year books and remembered all of the details. 

I do have a few St George jerseys, I have given quite a few away over the years. 

When did you think you knew enough in a quiz to be able to take on someone of the caliber of David Middleton?

Probably when I was 16 or 17.  I probably should have been paying more attention to my school work in year 11 or 12 rather than concentrating on rugby league stats.  If the footy was on TV I would find a way to watch it.

David and Golliath ? How did the challenge with David Middleton on the Footy Show happen?

 

I actually remember the date of the advertisement, it was the Sun Herald January 28th edition 2001 saying fans could be a host on the Footy Show and my friends had been saying for years I should try and get on there.  One of the things required to enter was to shoot a video of yourself and send it in and I just did it.  A friend of mine who shall remain nameless was meant to help me with it and he didn't and I just set up the video camera and told them what I knew such as Grand Finals and State of Origin scores. 

How was the lead up to your Footy Show appearance?

It was six weeks later on a Tuesday and I had left my mobile phone at home whilst I was at work and I got home and switched my phone on and there was six voice mail messages from Glenn Pallister who was and I believe still is the Executive Producer of the Footy Show.  He was saying we want you on the show this Thursday and we are starting this new segment called David and Goliath and you will be challenging David Middleton.  He said give us a call back soon and we will have some tickets for your friends too.  I gave him a call back and two days later I am on the Footy Show. 

I was jumping for joy on one hand and the other I was shitting myself, I didn't sleep on the Tuesday or the Wednesday night and then I was on TV on the Thursday night.  I was more nervous to be on TV compared to challenging my childhood hero David Middleton. 

David and Goliath Challenge? How did you go on the night?

They called David Middleton and me into put makeup on, I couldn't believe they were putting make up on me. 

I had a slow start but came home with a rush.  The slow start was definitely nerves.  If there was a second challenge I think he would wipe the floor with me, he can recall stuff no one would even think about. 

How do you keep up to date with the latest facts and figures?

I don't have pay TV but I do still watch every game and I love listening to the Triple M Continuous Call Team on Monday nights. 

What got you into Refereeing?

My parents decided not to let me play Rugby League because I was too small and I just remember seeing an Ad one year in the St George Leader and they had an advertisement to become a referee.  I was refereeing in the St GEorge junior league from the age of 15 years old. 

It was very rewarding, I refereed from 1997 to 2000 and that period is when I really enjoyed the game the most.  I refereed Jason Nightingale in a local game and I was also lucky enough to referee Wes Naiqama in a trial game as a fluke.

I was virtually refereeing kids, if there was any dramas some parents taking things over the top. 

The best footy team you have seen?

The Broncos sides of the 1990s, Langer, Walters

Your favourite restaraunt?

The bistro at Allawah hotel. 

True Supporter, Interview 1 - 17 October 2016 -Daniel Krajovski

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Wetherill Park, NSW.

When did you start your collection and what did you collect in the beginning?

I started collecting in 1979-1980, around 6-7 years of age, Kindergarten.  I used to buy the packets from the local corner shop in Mount Druitt.  I Started with Rugby League and my favourite cards were South Sydney.  .

What were your most memorable experiences with collecting as a child ?

Bubblegum, that was the reason I started collecting them.  We used to play flicks against the wall and Snap.  There was also a game called knock downs, you would put the cards up against the wall and whoever could flick their card and knock them all down would get the lot.

How did you store your cards as a kid ?

Used a rubber band and stored them in either my shoe box or lunch box. 

When did you start to get into other things ?

I think it was in 1986 when I started collecting the Soccer cards, they were the playing card ones and Maradona was the best card in the set. 

          

What are you focusing on collecting these days ?

Soccer is what I am pushing to complete, basically I have all of them except for the Scanlens 1963 cards.  The main sets are from 2006 which were all Select, then there was an exclusive set sold by Wangy and now there is Tap and Play do them. 

 

I don't collect everything in Rugby League, only certain cards that have a bit of value in them and South Sydney. 

How do you derive value in cards ?

The rarity, the limited edition stuff, the 50s and 40s cards and some of the 100s cards.  Certain cards have an appeal factor to collectors as well

What are your top Five collectable cards / card sets over the years in Rugby League ?

The most sought after cards now would be a toss-up between the Centenary Six (2008 Immortal Signature Set) and the Black League Leaders from Select Dynasty 2012. 

 

The Captains Signature Cards from 2004 are very special and the other ones I like are the Captains Signatures from the 2009 Classic set.  The fifth one would be the 2006 Invincibles set which included the Legend Die Cut cards out of 175, Top Prospects and the Redemptions such as Laurie Daley, Tim Smith, Andrew Johns limited to 120 per card. 

 

Over the Years how did your collecting change?

It changed in 2000 because Dynamic finished in 1997 and for two years we had nothing to collect except for club release cards, that is if you collected those.  I didn't, but when Select 2000 came out, I remember it clearly.  I knew a wholesaler AMW Holliers, back then they were in Smithfield and they were selling boxes to newsagents and because I knew him I was buying boxes and from that year onwards I was addicted to collecting all of the Select cards. 

I managed to collect every single card in Selects range from 2000 to 2012.  Every single card that they brought out I collected.  It is very hard to collect them all, to this day there can only be ten Master Set collects and this is due to the 2001 Challenge set had a one in 10 card which redeemed the entire set.  So only ten people can only have master sets from Select.  Now the signature cards are 1-110 and when my master set was redeemed with the Master Set cards they were not redeemed all the same number, I don't know why, they just came back like that. 

What have you been collecting since 2012?

Just South's cards, ESP every series comes out and I just collect the South's cards.  Apart from that I concentrate on my Soccer, I will keep buying this sort of stuff.

 

                               

When did you start selling cards?

It was the at the card shows, I first got into Trading Card Shows as a seller around 2006 or 2007 and then I started selling at the Fairfield Markets which went for a couple of years.  I gave the Fairfield Markets up because you just needed a lot of time to do it and I had a young family. 

I haven't been involved with the markets for around three years now.  Now I concentrate on my website and EBay for selling along with word of mouth. 

What is the Holy Grail that has eluded you over the years?

1963 Scanlens Soccer.  They are very hard.  I was spewing because not long ago there was about half a dozen on EBay and they were averaging about $150 a card which is cheap.  They are Australian Soccer cards.  They came out in conjunction with the Australian Rugby League set in the same year.  There was 18 cards in the set and like the Rugby League set there was no Scanlens logo on the front of the card.  There was no Soccer set released in the 1964 season.  They released a second set in the 1965 season and that had the Scanlens logo like the 1964 League set had.  Johnny Warren was in the 1963 set.  

               

Total Value of your collection?

This is a hard question, because you need to sit there and count them all. I asked are you going to count them and he replied, I am not even going to, there is too much.  Like I said I have 8,500 cards on my website. 

If you had to sell part of your collection, what would you sell first?

First, well you try to sell your commons first, but that's not going to happen.  I would sell my Rugby League first. 

The ones you would find hard to replace are some of the high end cards from Select in the early years.  2004 Captains captains card and I haven't seen a 2009 Captains signature for quite a while as well. 

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