Born and bred in the Sutherland Shire. The olds split in the late 80’s, right when I started following Rugby League and I moved out to Padstow for a short time. We came back in around the mid 90’s, back into the Sutherland Shire, Lucas Heights
How was your childhood?
Yeah, good, we were working class. Mum and Dad split up pretty early. Mum was single with four kids. It certainly wasn’t the easiest of upbringings, but we certainly had everything we needed. Mum had two jobs, day and night and the older brother and sister looked after me for a good part of it.
What got you to start to like Rugby League?
I remember the day as if it was yesterday, it was 89’ and as I said it was the old split and I was around at Dads room at Dads house. They were both big Dragons supporters and they were both heavily entrenched at the club. Dad played a bit of Lower Grades. I remember watching Cronulla play that day at Dads in the bright blue and I saw Andrew Ettingshausen and I asked Dad who was that? And he said that is actually your local team from where you are. That was it, it went from there.
Do you remember the first Sharks game you went to?
I do, it was the 1989 Elimination Final and we got touched up by Canberra. I don’t remember a single tackle. I do remember the Sydney Football Stadium, and the infatuation that I grew with the stadium from there. Dad bought me a scarf which I still have today. I just remember being at the back and buying a Sharks scarf.
How did your interest with the Sharks develop over the years?
Like most teenagers it dropped off and girls and alcohol became more important. Friday and Saturday nights were spent at night clubs instead of on the hill at Shark Park. As I said, single Mum with four kids, we didn’t get to too many games.
Actually as a kid I went to every single Dragons game religiously. I went to the 1993 Grand Final. Went to the famous 4-0, 1992 Prelim when the Dragons beat Illawarra. Pop was such as fan that if they played inter-state, we would go down to Illawarra to watch the lower grades.
On the odd occasion I would get out to a Sharks game, but it was mostly Dragons games every weekend.
Who were your favourite Sharks players when you were growing up?
In my younger days, obviously ET (Andrew Ettingshausen) and Gav Miller. Big fan of both of those guys, both are good players in completely different ways. ET was obviously the flamboyant, he was the bloke who would get the ball and no one could catch him, where Gavin Miller was tough as nails, he could go to the line and just mesmerize them.
As I got older and got a bit more appreciation, David Peachey, well the cliché goes, he puts bums on seats. We would ask, should we go or not and it was the thought of seeing the Peach (David Peachey) and Preston Campbell that got us out there.
Are there any of the older players that you like?
I am into memorabilia and that sort of thing so I watch a lot of old footage and I like the period of when Jonathon Docking, Barry Russell played. I have watched a lot of Steve Rogers play, he was amazing as they have all said. I didn’t have the opportunity to see him play live, but from what I have seen through Origin and Test football he was certainly something special.
Who are you favourite Sharks local products?
ET, a local product, Baz (Barry Russell), Jonathon Docking. Chad Townsend, our first halfback to lead us to a Premiership. I am aware that he cops a lot of flak, but as far as I am concerned he is the only number 7 that has won us a premiership. It is hard to fault the bloke, I mean there have been plenty of halfbacks that have come to the club before him. Chad Townsend is certainly one of those blokes that I consider a great local product.
What about Cronulla imports?
Gav Miller, Goulburn’s Great. I remember a couple of blokes through the 90’s. Dave Watson had a very short stint with us, Kiwi International. We had a bloke by the name of Tawera Nikau who was just an uncompromising back rower and I was a big fan of him while growing up.
What are your favourite Sharks moments?
The Grand Final obviously stands up there. On the back of that I went over to England to watch them play in the World Club Challenge, they didn’t win and I thought we missed a massive opportunity there. The score line probably didn’t reflect the game, I thought we were a better side and in large patches we were unlucky, but that was a highlight.
As funny as it is, one of my biggest highlights as a Sharks supporter is a game that we lost. The Prelim Final we lost to Newcastle, where I thought we were robbed, but the atmosphere that night and around the Shire with the thought of us making the Grand Final was massive. In the stadium with all of the Newcastle supporters it was just amazing. Newcastle then went on to pump Parra in the Grand Final.
What stuff did you collect as a kid after your scarf?
I didn’t have too much, as I said, we were a family, Single Mum with four kids. I certainly wasn’t one of those kids who got a jersey every Christmas or every footy season, so maybe had one or two. It wasn’t until I moved out of home and started earning a decent wage that I started really getting into it. It has just spiraled from there.
So, once you started collecting, what did you collect?
It would have been the jerseys. I remember Mum coming home with the little figurines. Mum knew the lady, whos Husband worked at the company and they actually went bankrupt. She came home with a garbage bag full, there would have been maybe 60 in there. I still have a complete set of those. I think that was 94’, so that would have been one of the first things that I collected.
What are your favourite items?
I have the original 70’s jersey there, number 10. That is one of the first match worn jerseys that I collected. I am not sure who’s jersey that was, we got it online.
I have ET’s jersey from when he broke Dane Sorenson’s game record.
I have a couple of Test jerseys. I have David Peachey’s one and only 1997 Super League Test jersey.
Mat Rogers 1999 Tri Nations jersey.
I think the Cream of the crop is Gav Millers 1988 Rest of the World. It is just an amazing jersey in every sense. The numbers were made a felt, so it certainly wasn’t a jersey designed for week to week use. It was a one off and I am surprised it got through the match considering the sponsors and everything having felt on the front of it.
I have Maloney’s Grand Final boots.
David Peachey’s shorts
Signed Super League ball from the Grand Final side
I’ve got the Auckland Nine’s signed ball, we made the Final but lost it to Souths 2015. A lot of the boys from that team went on to win the Grand Final that year. Guys like Jack Bird, Wade Graham.
I have a couple of early 90’s balls.
I have a 1989 Cronulla ball signed by Gav Miller, Arthur Papas, Luke Massey and those sorts of guys.
I am always surprised about the thought process with some of the things they bring out. I have the NSWRL lighter.
You can have your high end items like your jerseys and that sort of thing, but I also just love the weird and wonderful things that have come up over the years.
How do you get hold of all of this stuff?
As you are aware social media, once you get a bit of a profile on there, plenty of people are looking to hit you up and not only ask for advice on things, but try and offload some things or swap stuff. I have been fortunate enough that people have contacted me with rare items that I have snapped up.
Sometimes people have too much to drink at Charity auctions and then 12-14 months later regret buying it and for whatever reason try to sell it on. Perhaps they were not really a supporter or the case where someone has bought Maloney’s boots and he has left the club, a disgruntled supporter doesn’t feel the need for them anymore. That is it, and I am more than happy to take it.
My Sister is in England and she found an old 90’s jersey in Finland and it was posted to her. We have picked up some news photos of ET when he was over in Leeds.
You’d be surprised where footy and Sharks stuff sort of pops up. It is all over the world.
Tell us about the medical pack?
My wife actually found that at an antiques shop and she was a bit reluctant to point it out to me due to the price. I think we paid $250.
We got in touch with the lady who’s father made it and she recalls him making it in the late 70’s and he would go door to door selling them to footy clubs. Cronulla was one of the first clubs to pick it up. She was very impressed to see it in such great condition
Which Cronulla Stars have visited your Cronulla Sharks museum?
I have ben fortunate enough to have a few guys over. Gav Miller and had a beer. Jim See was the first guy to come over, he is good mates with a good mate of mine. Baz has been over.
What do they think about it when they come over?
They love it, it is like a trip down memory lane for them. They are surprised to see such a collection in the one spot. They are more than keen to take photos and send them on to other blokes.
How many jerseys do you have?
Last count I think I am at around 90.
How about that ET game, that is pretty rare and in such great condition?
I will tell you a funny story about that. I was working one day and I got out of the car at a job and there was a council clean up and I kid you not, it was pissing down with rain and that game was sitting there in a chest of drawers with the drawers out. It wwas near immaculate. I picked it up and it is complete, it still has the poster, the game, it is as though it was just bought from a shop. I brought it straight home and it hasn’t moved since.
A few people have been looking to buy it and considering the circumstances in which I found it, you don’t see it pop up very often. It is certainly on of the things that I won’t be parting with.
How about your Barrackers Boot?
I still to this day am wondering what it is a Barrackers Boot is. We thought it was a money box because of the way it looks. I have heard people put umbrellas in them. You could put beers on ice in there, the back of it does look like an oversize bottle opener.
What are your favourite items that you have?
The Doctors Box is up there for its absolute rarity.
The jersey ET broke the record in.
Steve Rogers match worn jersey.
Peacheys shorts. It was one of my first items as a kid, when they would let you go in the dressing room. He was always a bloke, even to this day, aways has time for people. He couldn’t be nicer. If you hit him up at a pub, he will chat with you for an hour. He is an absolute champion. He gave me the shorts and he signed them and I have had them since. That was 99’. And his Test jersey to round it out at five.
What would be the most unusual?
Probably the dolls.
What about your Cronulla Sharks golf set?
The funny thing with golf set is my parents had just travelled around Australia and a lady was selling this for $25, but she was living at the top of Cape York and my parents just happened to be going through at the time, so this bag has gone all around Australia.
The funny thing about it is it is a Crossman bag, a famous golf company and yet, in their branding they have spelt Sutherland completely wrong. I don’t know how many they produced, but I would imagine they have spelt them all with Sutherland spelt incorrectly.
What do you call this room?
The Sharks Room, or Dad’s Room.
Do you watch every game?
Yea, we have Foxtel. The Grand Final has got plenty of runs.
Would you ever sell some of your Sharks stuff?
Sometimes I do, if I have duplicates or if I get a better version. I am not a rich man by any means. I am married as well, so the Missus wants to see something going out if she see’s three or four coming in.
In general probably not, I won’t sell too much.
It is just hard to part with. Over the years I have sold one or two things and then there is that regret within a week that I really shouldn’t have let that go. The next pay comes around but that jersey you let go probably won’t come around for another 20 or 30 years.
What do you think the most expensive items are in your collection?
I think probably that jersey that ET broke the record in.
Have you met ET?
Yes I have met him a few times. I also have his jacket from when he did his first trial they did a promo pic of him down at Shark Park wearing that jacket and it is in the Black, White Blue book and it is also in his book.
Tell us about your Black, White, Blue book?
I have two copies actually, very short story on that. My wife and I went to school together and we were friends and for my 21st she bought it for me. The book came out that year. My 20th, nine years later she tells me @I have bought you the best present that I have ever seen, you are going to love it. It is so you, I can’t believe you don’t have it” She bought me the same book but the leather bound edition with the certificate.
I think she paid $500 for it. She says that she can never forget my face when I opened it, she could tell straight away that I had it and when I opened the first page she realized it was the same book she bought me for my 21st. It is different though, in the leather case. A few of the boys who have come over have signed it.
How did it feel to see your collection on RL Antiques Roadshow, on The Fan?
It was a little surreal. When you have a passion for something as unique as collecting men’s sweaty, old and used sports gear, you don’t ever think that there will be someone, or a group of people out there that share the same passion. When you see it on tv and then start to get the feedback that has come since the show aired it has been really nice