Footy Cards

I love my family; I love my writing; I love my running – and I LOVE MY FOOTY CARDS! So here’s a little bit of info and background to a hobby that has been with me for 40+ years and will probably never EVER leave me….


Scanlens cards started in 1963. I was alive, but only just! These cards are super rare and hard to find – and very VERY expensive. Like we’re talking $1000’s for the Polly Farmer card and no one really knows why. Some people think that the card was badly cut on the machines and heaps of Polly Farmers were chucked out. And there’s this weird rumour about a worker at the Scanlens factory who stole a whole stack of Polly Farmers and stashed them in a draw at a railway station – I know… weird… There were only 18 cards in this set. There aren’t many people who have the whole set of 1963s…



So the next year, Scanlens came out and did it all again. Can you tell the difference between the cards? Nope! Well, actually, if you turned the cards over, you’d see that there were 33 cards in the 1964 set. Otherwise, they’re pretty much the same as the 1963 cards. And of course they’re way more common.




I’m still too young to rememvber these cards. There were 36 cards in this set. There were 3 players from each of the 12 teams. They were all VFL teams back in those days. There were SA and WA teams of course and they even had their own cards too.




This was the first year that the cards were made the classic size that they still are today. The 1966 set was a monster set of 72 cards – it was a big effort to collect the whole lot. 5 cents would buy you a packet of footy cards. You’d get a stick of pink bubble gum with a white, sugary coating and your 4 cards too. The cards smelt great and the gum was good, except if it’d been sitting in the milk bar for too long, it did get a bit dry and crackly and was hard to get going in the mouth. Life was super tough back then! If you look carefully you’ll see that the card has a cut-out sort of line around the player – it was called a die cut. If you find a card that hasn’t been popped, that’s very cool – and very rare – and very expensive!




Oh wow – the TV set. See how the card looks like a TV? Again, there were 72 in the set. Sometimes a card had two, three or even four players on the card – like this Collingwood card. I love the dark backgrounds. The photos were taken at training during the winter and of course it gets dark pretty early late in the afternoon when the players used to train.




Maybe the best year of my life! Why? Because Scanlens put out 2 sets in 1968. Oh wow. I think the packs still cost a massive 5 cents. We’d walk to the milk bar with 20 cents pocket money on a Saturday morning. It was always a tough decision. Do I spend all my 20 cents on 4 packs of footy cards? Or mix it up a bit and get 10 cents of mixed sweets in a little white paper back and two packs. I couldn’t believe it when Fatty Baker spent found 2 cents by the railway line and so spent 17 cents on a pie and the remaining 5 cents on a packet! I think it was the craziest purchase I’ve ever witnessed in my life. On the backs of the second series, you could build a giant picture of the grand final. Each card was like a puzzle piece.


1968b-scanlens          jesaulenko


I really liked this set too. They were super bright and colourful and there was a parallel set of 18 die cut cards. You’d pop out the player and he’d sit on your desk at home or  school.

1969-dc-scanlens 1969-scanlens


This is actually a really hard set to get. I think that Scanlens maybe didn’t make as many cards as in previous years. And they’re also super hard to find nowadays in really good condition too. I mean, yes, they are over 45 years old now, but maybe the card the company used was a bit different. There are 66 cards in this set. Footy card packs have now gone up to a whopping 10 cents. Luckily, I think my pocket money increased to a massive 50 cents. Fatty Baker had moved in to little buckets of ice cream. I could buy a pie with sauce (23 cents) get myself 2 packets of footy cards (20 cents) then splash out on 7 cents of mixed lollies…





Crushing news. There were no 1971 Scanlens footy cards. It was a very long, dreary winter that year.




So, I have good news and bad news. The good news? Footy cards return – the bad news, I go off to spend a year in Wales – go figure! I had to collect the 1972 set a year later in 1973. I used my pocket money to buy cards at school from my friends; or win them playing marbles. I got very good at marbles! This set were very similar looking to the 1970 set but the picture on the back was black and white. I’m starting to get a bit nervous about my all-time fav company, Scanlens. Black and white photos and copying heaps of cards from 2 years ago… What will happen in 1973…





Scanlens cards – I love you SOOOOOOOOOO much! I think maybe they’ve got a new boss in or something. Just when I though Scanlens might be done and dusted, out they come with… wait for it… a set of 72 cards (equal biggest set on record!) AND THEN – they decide to make a Series A and Series B…OMG! WOW!! Okay, they did do it a bit cheap by making the Series B cards EXACTLY the same as the Series B cards, but still. I can still remember riding home having just completed a humungous trade (I gave 23 swaps up for Phil Baker, No 57, Series B) which was the last card I needed to get all 144 cards. Look carefully and you’ll see a Series A and a Series B card… There were also 12 stickers which were pretty cool.


1973a-scanlens        1973b-scanlens




This was the first year that over 100 different card were made – 132 to be precise. And it was also the first time in ages that the backs of the cards featured player bio info – as opposed to a picture of the grand final. It was good having the player information to read up on, but it was also a bit sad not to be able to make a monster jigsaw on the living room floor. This is Wayne Richardson. He was a legend – and he had a brother called Max who also played for Collingwood.





I’m in year 8, and still loving my footy cards. Another set of 132 cards – and again no picture on the back. This time there were questions about footy – you’d get a coin and rub away to reveal the answer. There was also an invisible emblem on the back and you used your trusty 20 cent piece to rub and reveal. This is Neil Balme, a Richmond legend and now a really well regard player manager and administrator who’s working back at his old club.



I really like this set. There were some very rare cards that we just never saw. But I eventually managed to nail the set. For the third year in a row, there were 132 cards in the set. And the backs of the cards made a great colour jigsaw of the 1975 grand final.



The blue set – you can see why! Lots of the cards had really dark backgrounds – like this one. They were mainly portrait shots of the players – as were the last few years. ‘John, grab a ball and stand in front of the camera here. We want you to be on a footy card.’ Smile!’ SNAP!! And there you have it – John Burns has his own footy card!



Scanlens, bless them, have decided to make an even bigger set of cards. We’re up to 168 cards – WOW!! I had to buy these in boxes, not packets. When are you too old to buy and collect footy cards? Hmmm – never! My brother bought me a box of 1978 footy cards for my birthday but he left them on a tram in Melbourne! For a whole day that tram travelled around the city and my box of footy cards sat patiently up on the rack – touched by no one. Finally, that night after a big day of work and study, my brother went down to the depot to ask about the cards. ‘What number tram, mate?’ They went out into the sheds, located a No 109 tram, hopped aboard and there was my box of cards – still there!! This guy here is Rene Kink – a big, bustling centre half for Collingwood.



You’d think I’d have better things to do in my final year at school – Year 12 – than buying footy cards. Well, I did – but I also had the set to collect. This is Arnold Briedis – a talented North Melbourne forward.



This is a pretty rough and tired looking card from the 1980 set. Notice how the corners are looking pretty soft. I guess the card is still very old – like over 35 years old! If you’ve got very good eyesight, you’ll notice that there are 168 cards in this set – and all time Scanlens record for number of cards in a set. You had to buy a lot of packets to get the lot.