MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9
Meet with former Brisbane representative rugby league back, Neil Wharton, who is a new addition to the staff at QRL headquarters. Neil, wants me to write prose that typifies what the Q Logo stands for. Only too happy to oblige. Our meeting place – Anouk Café, Paddington – is ‘rugby league central’ with Paul Dyer, James Hinchey, Michael Hancock and Mark Beaumont at an adjoining table.
A resident at our Hermitage Gardens estate reports a green tree snake in her bath.
Love a story on the BBC about one of their reporters asking an elderly gentleman in the streets of Liverpool whether he remembers the 1967 FA Cup fifth round match between Liverpool and Everton. “I do,” replied said gent. “I played in it”. It was the Liverpool goal keeper, Tommy Lawrence. Everton won 1-0.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10
More rugby league business over coffee, this time a meeting with noted author, Adrian McGregor who will deliver this year’s Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture on behalf of the QRL History Committee. We meet at Paddington Central, where we see former Australian skipper, Darren Lockyer jogging around the hilly streets. Adrian recalls his time living at Delph in England in 1990 when he was researching the league club scene ahead of the Kangaroo tour that year. He had hoped to write a third book on Wally Lewis, but ‘the King’ was controversially ruled out of the tour on medical grounds, and Adrian turned his attention to the new skipper, Mal Meninga. The result was a book titled ‘Simply the Best’.
Hear Ted Mulry song, ‘Jump in My Car’ as I drove home. I saw Ted at a pub in Taree in 1975 when he was just getting into fair dinkum rock after first charting with a ballad, ‘Julia’. One of my Pommy mates, Bob Little kept asking Ted to sing Julia, but there was no way.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12
Long lunch at Alliance Hotel with other ‘old journos’, Bart Sinclair and Brian Burke, as well as current News Ltd employees, Paul Malone, Andrew Dawson and Nathan Exelby, and former Courier-Mail editor, Michael Crutcher. Rugby union identities, Dick Marks and Lloyd Graham say hello, on their way to a meeting to establish a new ‘rugby bar’. Back in the 1980s Dick Marks and I engaged in a written war of words over the merits of the two rugby codes. I suggested that one day there would be a free gangway (for player movement) between league and union, and Dick scoffed at the idea. Now every Tom, Dick and Sam hops from one code to the other and then back again.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13
Haircut today, and my barber has a Mohawk. Bit of a worry, but he does a good job (at least, I think so). He is a St George-Illawarra fan and played league at Bracken Ridge High. After drinks at ‘the club’ with the likes of legendary Brothers’ trainer, Jimmy Johnson and current player, Adam Crear (son of Mark), I watch the annual All Stars game from the Gold Coast. Enjoyed it, because it was far more intense than I expected.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14
To beautiful Mt Tamborine and walks at Lahey Reserve and Witches Falls. Buy rhubarb, honey and cucumbers from roadside stalls. Then to Main beach for a quick surf ahead of dinner at Southport Yacht Club with our son, Damien; his wife Emma; Beenleigh High ‘bosses’, Matt O’Hanlon, George Bartlett and their respective wives, Donna and Lenore. Matt’s New Year resolutions included not eating kale or pulled pork, and never reading the Gold Coast Bulletin. Easier to keep than mine.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15
Family get-together – Ricketts and Donnellys – at Kingscliff, but not at preferred site – Faux Park – because streets are closed for a triathlon. Our son, Lliam takes the little kids out on Cudgera Creek in his tinnie, and they love it.