Your jersey of yesterday

We?ve all got one. Buried somewhere deep inside our wardrobe behind the hyper colour t-shirt and other things you?d never be seen dead in anymore.

I?m talking, of course, about your old club jersey. For some of us it may be your only jersey. It?s well faded now bearing sponsorship from companies that are no more. But it holds more memories inside it then any diary or log book could.

I remember the day I bought my first jersey. I had no idea who Household Finance was but I was proud to have their name emblazoned across my chest. I put it on as soon as I got home and proudly rode around the neighbourhood on my bike showing off my newest and proudest asset.

Back then the local kids would always gather at a mate?s place who lived on a property with a good sized front yard. Teams were picked and as always we had one team of ?shirts? and one team of ?skins?. Today, there was no chance I would be in the skins team ? the jersey was staying on. The match would kick off and immediately I could hear Ray Warren in my head. ?We?re underway ? shirts are running right to left and OH, a big hit by this young kid in Blue and White?. This was a pretty normal afternoon where I lived and from this day forward I was always wearing my jersey.

But it isn?t just my own exploits that this jersey brings back memories of. It reminds me of days spent out at Belmore watching some of my favourite players go round. Terry Lamb stands out in my mind as the man I used look up to most. I?d stand on my seat or clamber up my dads shoulders just to get a better look at him. I?m sure I?m not the only person who was like this. Every time that I picture myself doing that, sure enough, there I am wearing the same jersey.

Some people may never have had a jersey. They got by with only a scarf or a cap or a flag. In my opinion, they really missed out. At a young age your jersey becomes a force field around you. You put it on and from that moment on you can do nearly anything. As you get older a jersey becomes more like a uniform rather than everyday wear. Just as the shirt and tie goes on for work so too does the jersey go on for a relaxing day at the footy.

One Christmas I received a gift that changed the way I lived from then on. I ripped off the wrapping to find a brand new Bulldogs jersey looking up at me. In hindsight I would say that this was a terribly sad day but unbeknownst to me, this new jersey brought about the end of an era. I couldn?t have been happier with the gift I had just received and I promptly yanked the old faded and worn jersey off and pulled on the brand spanking new one. I jumped up and grabbed my football and ran to the backyard to emulate my footballing heroes leaving the old jersey sitting with the wrapping paper that had kept my new jersey a surprise.

I am not sure exactly what happened next. No doubt Mum picked it up and washed it and returned it to my wardrobe. Slowly it was forced from the front of the cupboard to the back as more and more clothes took its old spot, then the day came where I moved out of home but the jersey stayed where it hung.

I never really thought too much about it again, such is the fickleness of youth. But on a recent visit to my parents place I was going through my cupboard and low and behold there it was. It felt just like when you bump into a really old friend from your youth and you both don?t know what to say for a moment ? so much has changed in your lives. I paused for a moment then pulled it off the coat hanger. It smelt and felt like yesterday and I realised it was too important to leave behind again.

Whilst our old jerseys may be too small and old to wear they should always be treasured as they hold so much of our history and reinvigorate memories of days when nothing else, but Rugby League, really mattered.

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