Written by Michael Carter, Hull KR Shirts.
Welcome to My Collection With James Freund. In what is a slight change to usual proceedings I will be interviewing a fellow collector who collects shirts from other Rugby League clubs. I recently spoke to James about his collection and love for Canberra Raiders, Newtown Jets & Rochdale Hornets including the shirts they’ve worn. He was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions and share his collection with you. First up in this three-part special is Canberra Raiders.
MC – James, what inspired you to collect Canberra shirts?
JF – There wasn’t one moment that I started to collect Raiders jerseys. It was like I had a few that I’d picked up second hand and then kept buying them and buying them. When I had 30 plus, I realised then that it was getting serious. I collect both match-worn and replica, however, due to players shirts being difficult and expensive to get hold of, I mainly have replicas in the collection. They’re much easier to get, although I’ve been able to pick up a few more players jerseys in the last six months. I’m a huge fan of the one-off jerseys that they’re big on here in the NRL. I love the indigenous, charity and nines/sevens types. Something about having a jersey that was only used for a very short time, i.e. one game is very cool.
MC – When did you start collecting shirts and what do you collect?
JF – I probably started about five years ago, but before that, I had a few in the collection, but that was when it got serious. It also coincided with the break up of my marriage…
MC – What was your first Canberra shirt in your collection James?
JF – I have at my parents place a 1991 replica jersey made by Classic Sports, but that one is tucked away in the loft. I’ve not seen it for 20 years so hopefully, my Mum hasn’t thrown it out!
MC – How many Canberra shirts do you have in your collection, James?
JF – I have 104 Canberra shirts in total, of those about 13 are either match-worn or player spec and the rest are supporters replicas. That number doesn’t include the half-dozen shirts that I’ve ended up with duplicates of.
MC – What is the rarest Canberra shirt in your collection?
JF – I’ve got two jerseys that are particularly rare. The first is a 1984/85 supporters replica away shirt, sadly it’s too small for me to wear, but it’s in very good condition.
JF – The second is a yellow one-off shirt the Raiders wore to promote a phone that their sponsor had just brought out. I managed to pick up Joel Edwards match-worn shirt from that game. No replicas were ever made and the players’ shirts were auctioned off by the club. These are highly sought after by collectors and I’ve heard a rumour that one went recently for $900 AUD (£500). Thankfully, I didn’t pay anything like that for mine.
MC – What is your favourite Canberra shirt in your collection?
JF – I have a players shirt from the 1992 season, number 47 that is up there as a favourite of mine. I also have a fully signed player away shirt with number 20 from the 2014 season that was given to me by a good friend who used to work at the Raiders. It’s not particularly valuable or rare but has a lot of sentimental value to me.
MC – What is your favourite Canberra shirt, of all time? (not necessarily in your collection).
JF – As I’m a certain vintage I have to say the late 80s ones are my favourite. The white-collar and cuffs and the Woodger’s sponsor is just such an iconic design and look. I’ve got four of them in the collection, three home and the white away that are all original from that time.
MC – Of the last two answers which is your overall favourite?
JF – Have to say that the late 80s Woodger’s one is the favourite, classic design and it was one that they made the Grand Final in 1987 in, and famously won the 1989 Grand Final in.
MC – Would you buy a shirt you didn’t like the look of? If yes how do you feel about it?
JF – Oh yes! I’m a total sucker for buying shirts that I don’t really like, basically if the club releases a jersey and it’s got a Raiders badge on it, I’ll buy it just to add to the collection. Whether I wear it is another matter but I have to try and get a copy of each one that is released each year. I don’t mind if it’s a players jersey or supporters replica. The club has brought out some charity jerseys in the last few years that I’ve picked up that I’d never wear but like to support the cause. One I particularly didn’t like the look of was the ‘Tour de Cure” shirt. It was designed to look like a cycling jersey.
MC – Over the years collecting shirts, what would you say was your best buy?
JF – A few years ago I got a bundle of three jerseys off eBay from a guy in Queensland for about $110 AUD (£60) and that included a rare 2003 World 7s shirt, an original 1990/91 era Video Ezy supporters jersey made by Westmont and an original 1995 Canberra Milk jersey. Considering the prices of shirts these days, it was a massive bargain. The 2003 World 7s jersey never pops up as available to buy. The 2014 yellow match-worn shirt was a recent buy that was a bit of a bargain also at $200 AUD (£105).
MC – Lastly to finish up James, I would like to give you the opportunity to shout out for a shirt (or shirts) which have eluded you over the years?
JF – I’d love to get my hands on a 1984 match-worn jersey that has the NSWRFL badge on it. The league only used that competition badge for one year and they’re super hard to get hold of now.
James, its been a pleasure to do this. Thank you for taking the time to go through this interview with me about all the shirts in your collection. It has been ace talking shirts with you and I hope you enjoyed it too! It was great to see a fellow collectors collection and I’m looking forward to part two already!
If you’d like to keep up with James’ collections you can follow James on Twitter @RLJerseySpotter and Instagram @rugbyleaguejerseys by clicking on the hyperlinks. James also has his own website where he features his collection of Newtown Jets jerseys and you will find that here! A very good source for some niche kit geek content.
James and I will be back soon with three further interviews featuring his collection of Rochdale Hornets, Newtown Jets and a final interview featuring his collection of other clubs and international jerseys.
Fancy having your own interview with Me about your shirt collection? Get in touch and we will make it happen.