1976 Scanlens VFL #120 — Graham Melrose

1976 Scanlens VFL MelroseInternational cards continue to fascinate me. I’ve won a few auctions on ebay and plan to post about various cards and sets as they trickle in from around the world.

The Australian card company Scanlens–which I wrote about a couple posts ago–produced cricket, VFL, rugby, and non-sports cards back in the sixties and seventies. As I also mentioned, most of these featured designs they licensed from Topps. However, some, such as the 1976 set to the right, seem to have an original look. Graham plays for the North Melbourne Kangaroos, one of the oldest teams in the then VFL, now AFL. (After the league expanded out of Victoria in the early-nineties, they changed the name to the Australian Football League. Great team name, great colors.) Although an uninspired (to say the least) photo I do appreciate the backdrop and the old Adidas soccer cleats. And, if I’m not mistaken, this is Melrose’s rookie card. Nevertheless, he helped the Kangaroos reach the Grand Final in 1975 where they lost to Hawthorn.

I don’t know much else about Australian Rules Football. When I was growing up, NESN used to show Australian Rules Football games during the morning after SportsDesk, their version of SportsCenter. I remember having no clue how the game was played and laughing at their umpires (refs?) because they alway wore white sport coats and white fedoras but I can’t find any evidence on the internet so maybe I’m making this up? A false memory?

Oh yeah, and the back of the card is blank.

1976 Scanlens VFL Melrose2


1965 Scanlens Cricket

1965 Scanlens Cricket Bill LawryWhile doing research earlier on the previously mentioned A&BC/Topps Footballer cards I stumbled upon information on the Australian trading card company Scanlens. Apparently, they had an agreement with Topps to provide artwork for their Victorian Football League (that’s Australian Rules Football to me and you) cards to be sold in Australia and New Zealand from the sixties to the early-eighties. But more on that another day. Further and further down the rabbit hole I went, eventually landing on an ebay auction for a 40 card set of cricket cards they produced back in 1965. Unfortunately, the auction is a bit pricey–pushing $2,000. If you think vintage Topps Baseball and O-Pee-Chee Hockey is expensive, take a lot at what old Scanlens cards are going for. Nevertheless, the seller had the whole set neatly organized and scanned so, in the interest of posterity and knowing how ephemeral ebay auction photos tend to be, I saved them and uploaded virtually the entire set for your viewing pleasure.

Like most Americans, I know nothing about cricket but all I can say is about these cards is wow. The photography is fantastic, a nice mix of (staged) action shots and portraits where the athletes are in a shirt in tie.

1965 Scanlens Cricket A1The design is very minimal; they remind me of old Polaroids. The font seems to be some variation of Futura and give the set a real Wes Anderson feel. Come to think of it, these cards are very Anderson-esque: an obscure posh sport, check; vintage and formal clothes, check; interesting insignia, check; ties and tweed jackets, check. All that’s missing is the sixities folk and garage rock soundtrack.

1965 Scanlens Cricket B1Two Bobs, a Graeme, and a Graham all on one page. For some reason, all these names seem fake to me, like characters from an old, British novel. Or fictitious golfers.

1965 Scanlens Cricket C1The green grass, white jerseys, and red logo all go really well together. A+ for overall composition.

1965 Scanlens Cricket D1Similarly, Garfield Sobers and Basil Butcher are two of the greatest names I’ve ever heard. Some great sweaters here as well. And Doug Walters’s photo is just perfect.

Lastly, the backs. They’re bright and garish and feature a comic/trivia, how very O-Pee-Chee.

1965 Scanlens Cricket A2


1980-81 Topps Footballer Super

80 Topps Footballer1I’m actually not even sure of the name of this set, it’s not even listed on Nigel’s Webspace but perhaps a reader will be able to help. Produced in 1980, I’ve seen it listed as “Super” (like the American Football and Hockey releases of the same year), “Spotlights” (which appears on the top of the backs), and the title of the auction on ebay referred to them as “Topps Soccer Football Large”.

There’s 30 cards in the set and they’re oversized, measuring 5″x7″. The fronts are glossy and they feature (then) First Division players though many, such as Osvaldo over here, are dressed in their national team’s jersey, particularly the English players. Though the fronts are identical to the American Football and Hockey’s, the backs are completely different, listing everything from their club to their height, favorite food, and actress.

Here are a few others:

It’s really a shame that Topps never produced a NASL set for release here in the States and Canada. Imagine this design, or the one in the previous post, featuring Pele and Franz Beckenbauer in New York Cosmos jerseys or Johan Cruyff as a Washington Diplomat.


1977-78 Topps Footballers

77 Topps Footballers TudorTopps produced soccer cards under the name “Footballer” from 1975-1981 consisting of players from England’s First and Second Division which are now, essentially, the Premier League and the Championship. According to the great Topps Archive, Topps had partnered with A&BC in the late-fifties/early-sixties to release sets under their name before they became Topps UK in 1975. So for you Toppsophiles, they essentially put out soccer sets from 1959-1981. Often, they borrowed designs from baseball sets, such as in 1960 and 1963. I actually had no idea Topps did these Footballer sets until a few months ago when I saw a post on Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains featuring one from the 1975-76 set which, again, borrows its design from a baseball set. Plenty of more information on all these sets over at Nigel’s Webspace.

I was at a card show a couple of weeks ago and found a lot of 13 of these from the 1977-78 set. After a little haggling, I left with all of them for an even $5. Most have soft corners and a few appear to have eraser marks like the Tudor card above. I would love to complete the set even though I know virtually nothing about seventies English soccer but the cards are hard to come by in the States so I’m filing it away under “unreasonable”  and “wishful thinking” for now.

Here are some of the highlights:

I knew nothing about any of these players before this post. Selections were purely based on aesthetics. Love those Queens Park Rangers jerseys.

I’ll (hopefully) have another soccer related post tomorrow. But for now, enjoy the back of John Tudor’s card, which does a great job at epitomizing an American’s strange perception of English soccer.

77 Topps Footballers Tudor2