You may not have noticed, but around here at Dressing Shed Towers, we have a soft spot for Rugby League from the 80’s and early 90’s. We’re fans of the game and, in fact, sport in general, but something about this era still fascinates us. This is when League became big business but still maintained an overall innocence. You were as likely to have a Grand Final winner in your lounge room while your Dad went over his taxes, as have another show up and hand you your trophy for playing Under 8’s*, both of which actually happened in front of Mrs. Dressing Shed.
It’s possible that our fascination with the 80’s and 90’s is because we were kids. Or maybe it’s the fact that players weren’t always in the news for the wrong reasons. We had another reminder recently with the Bodene Thompson texts...something that any self respecting tabloid reporter was contractually obliged to report as ‘sordid’ or ‘saucy’. It isn't anything new. From the dog friendliness of Mitchell Pearce and Joel Monaghan to Todd Carney and the bubbler...even back as far as Schlossy’s shoe, League players have come under ever-increasing scrutiny off the field just as much as on.
Russell Fairfax could take his coiffed mullet wherever he liked and it wouldn’t make the news. Dallas Donnelly could down a thousand cans of Woodstock in Gunnedah, head butt three locals and run from the Police and no-one, other than locals lucky enough to witness it, would have known about it.
It’s not just mobile phones and the internet that have added to the potential for unwanted exposure and therefore exploitation of players. It’s also due to the astronomical increases in money within the game and the often ostentatious way it is spent by players and clubs. It’s a shame.
All of which also explains why we’ve named the Dressing Shed blog: ‘Part-Timers, Haircuts and Jerseys’. It is this combination of otherwise unlinked objects, other than the games, the personalities and the grounds, that we remember most fondly.
In the era we remember, players were professional to a point, as they were also Part-Timers. They needed a job and it was often one that put them in regular contact with you or I. They’d be inundated with questions about games, sure, but as someone reliant on a pay check to supplement their footy earnings, it probably led them to be more cautious.
The Haircuts were tragic. Well, that wasn’t just restricted to Rugby League in the 80s and 90s. Brian Jackson, Michael Bolt, Kevin Hardwick even Mario’s Munster headed brill pad...terrible all.
And the Jerseys. Most can never be beaten. Classical and simple with sponsors we actually knew. You could buy one, not replace it for five years and no-one would notice. We were fans, sure...but less commodities than we are now.
That’s part of the reason we created this site. To commemorate and celebrate what made us fall in love with this game. We still love it today, but it’s different and not necessarily better. We hope you like our site and the things we sell and share here. Because without fans like us, the game wouldn’t exist.
*don’t be fooled, anyone having a good ‘ol gripe about trophies for participation probably received their fair share back in the day.