MONDAY, JULY 6
Lovely time at Carbine Club Lunch at Tatts Club in the City, with the notorious Billy J Smith as MC, at a function where members of the Queensland State of Origin side are special guests, including coach, Mal Meninga. Someone mentions heavyweight boxer, Alex Leapai getting the keys to Logan City. ‘The poor Fellow. Hasn’t he suffered enough’, quips Billy. Billy J is the best MC going, but oversteps the mark sometimes, and such is the case when he interviews ‘Don Alroe Scholarship’ winner, Baily Butler from St Brendan’s Yeppoon. The poor kid, decked out in blazer and tie, is so shy, yet Billy tries to interview him as if he is a polished performer, and when the kid isn’t up to it, Billy takes the piss out of him! When Meninga gets up, he treats Billy with contempt during their interview, no doubt getting back on behalf of the kid. Sitting at my table are the likes of former Qld forward, Reg Cannon; the late Don Alroe’s widow and their son, John; Men of League Brisbane secretary, Vance Rennie and a teacher from Windaroo High. I also catch up with former Test forward, Mick Veivers; Easts’ legend, Des Morris; Redcliffe legend, Trevor Benson and former Valleys’ utility, Peter Lamb, who toured France and England with the 1979 Australian Schoolboys’ side.
Tonight I dine with my former Murwillumbah High School classmate, Tom Tartan, who gives his usual forthright views on world economic affairs.
TUESDAY, JULY 7
Lunch at Breakfast Creek Hotel with world traveller/league writing legend, Steve Mascord and former Brisbane Easts CEO (now NRL heavy) Shane Richardson; his brother, Perry and a former ‘Richo’ insurance industry workmate, Mike. We are joined at one stage by my former ‘Courier-Mail’ colleague, Freya Peterson, and her American husband, Kristian, a former Boston fireman, now a stay-at-home dad. Freya works for the ABC. We are joined briefly by former Brisbane Easts and Souths’ utility back, Bob Hudson, who also played in England with Halifax. Mascord announces that he will be married in Ireland next year, and we are all invited. The mood of the lunch becomes a little morbid when we learn Broncos’ CEO, Paul White has a brain tumor. ‘Richo’ is called away early because NRL CEO, David Smith requires his expertise.
On the subject of sports journalism, Mascord laments the fact today’s scribes do not seem as competitive as in ‘our day’
Tonight I watch excellent movie, John Rabe, about a German doctor who saved many Chinese lives in 1938 when the Japanese were committing so many atrocities.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 8
Origin Day. And a decider at that. There is no greater vibe in Brisbane. Marie and I have a drink at ‘Hops, Scotch and Beans’ on Petrie Terrace, ahead of the match. It is busy, but nothing compared with establishments in Caxton Street. Next, we call in at our son, Lliam’s Paddington house for beers and pizza. We are joined by our daughter, Melanie, who somehow managed to get a Gold Class ticket at short notice. To Legends Bar immediately before the game where we join former Brisbane Souths/Brothers/Canterbury Bankstown/St George/Gold Coast hooker, Billy Johnstone and his two children. Billy was Origin performance director for many years and did a wonderful job. Originally from Cunnamulla, he says there is no senior rugby league team in the town now. So sad. Believe it not, but the great Bobby Banks was chosen from Cunnamulla for the Second Test against France at the Gabba in 1960, partnering St George’s Bobby Bugden in the halves. Also chosen from the bush for that Test were forwards, Brian Hambly (Wagga Wagga) and Elton Rasmussen (Toowoomba).
Queensland thrash NSW 52-6, an amazing scoreline, with eight different players scoring tries, while man of the match, Johnathan Thurston kicks nine goals. Three NSW players were cited in a night that will go down in infamy in Blues’ history.
Australian Armed Forces beat their British counterparts on the bell in the first curtain raiser. Lennox Head product, Brian Kelly scores four tries for NSW under-20s in their 32-16 win over Qld. Lennox is a rugby union stronghold these days, much to the disappointment of a former Lennox league player, the great John Archibald, a former Parramatta player who became a fixture at Marist Brothers in Lismore, before playing into his 50s with Lennox, when they were part of the Richmond ‘village league’.
FRIDAY, JULY 9
QRL History Committee meeting today. John McCoy is given the job of asking Wayne Bennett to deliver the 2018 Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture, given it will be 30 years since the Broncos’ debut season. We leave the topic up to Wayne. Manager of our town house estate, Harry Moore tells me he played league against Queensland Origin forward, Jacob Lillyman’s father at Richmond in western Queensland. He was a good goal kicker, and as tough as they come.
Actor, Omar Sharif dies aged 83. One of my neighbours, Tony Jackman had the honour of playing bridge against him many years ago.
SATURDAY, JULY 10
To Harrisville near Ipswich for lunch at the Royal Hotel. Publican, Steve Patrick is a mad league man and has a stack of great photographs around the walls including one of the 1955 Ipswich team which played France. One of the Ipswich boys was Les Duncan, who was captain-coach of South Murwillumbah when they won the Tweed District premiership in 1965. He was as tough as they come, and a fair age by then. Les’s Murwillumbah ‘local’ was The Court House Hotel in Main Street, which served the best Tooths New in town, especially in the back bar, down near Proudfoot’s Lane. The now defunct Starlights Club also features prominently among the photographs in the Royal. The great winger from the 1920s, Bill Paten played for Starlights. A woman – ex-Australian Army – is enjoying a beer at the Royal, wearing a St George-Illawarra jersey and telling stories about her deployment in East Timor.
Marie and I travel home via Queens park, Ipswich, where we explore the Japanese Gardens and Zoo.