FLASHBACK: February 1981

Former ballboy, Ross Livermore was appointed general manager of the Queensland Rugby League, a new position created for the re-constituted governing body of the code in the Sunshine State.

Livermore, 36, had been a public servant, a milkman and a fish processor before beating 51 other applicants for the QRL post.

The announcement of his appointment was made by QRL chairman, Senator Ron McAuliffe, who 25 years earlier had played a role in designating Livermore as a ballboy.

Senator McAuliffe had known the young Livermore as the son of former goal kicking Wallabies rugby union forward, Alan Livermore, who Valleys tried to get to switch codes. When they failed, the Diehards signed young goal kicking fullback, Norm Pope from Balmain, with Pope going on the represent the Kangaroos.

Ross Livermore had clear memories of matches where he was a ball boy, including one between Wests and Brothers, which got out of hand, to such a degree, referee, Col Wright abandoned proceeedings.

Wests were leading when Wright dismissed their Australian centre, Alex Watson, who refused to go. Captain, Duncan Hall had words with Wright, so he was also sent off, and also refused to walk.

“It was a bit of a bloodbath,” Livermore said.

Brisbane’s Woolies pre-season kicked off a week after Livermore started his job, and controversy raged over the Brisbane Division’s decision to return to the unlimited tackle rule for the knock-out competition.

There was talk of Australia being expelled from the International Board, given the Board had ruled that all football should be played under the six tackle rule.

Brisbane Division CEO, Roger Robinson, scoffed at such a suggestion.

“We can do what we like. International rules do not apply in trials,” said Robinson.

Wests’ centre, Tony Quinn was sent off by referee, Keith Bichel in the dying seconds for a high shot on Diehards’ rival, Vic Wieland.

Valleys won 35-13 with Wieland finishing with three tries and Queensland State of Origin lock, Wally Lewis, two.

Lewis was the star of the match and came in for heavy spotting with Wests’ forwards, Norm Carr and Bill Whitmore sent to the sin bin five minutes from full time after one incident involving ‘the King’.

Best for Wests were Carr, his brother, Wayne; Tweed product, Tony Kennedy (a promising halfback) and prop, Brett Ferguson, who scored two tries.

Souths flying policeman, Chris Kealey was in sensational touch at five eighth in the Magpies’ 16-5 win over Easts in the other match of the Lang Park double header.

Easts were coached by John Lang, who retired from playing at the end of 1980, a year in which he toured New Zealand with the Australian side, and represented New South Wales (from Sydney Easts) and Queensland in the inaugural State of Origin match, as well as playing in Sydney grand final.

It took Lang’s move to Sydney, when arguably his best football was behind him, for ‘southern critics’ to acknowledge his brilliance, after he was in and out of Australian teams in the 1970s.

Footnote: I started my career as a full time league journalist almost at the same time as Ross Livermore started his job. He became a wonderful professional contact and later a close friend.


Ross Livermore (left) and journalist, Paul Sweeney

One response to “FLASHBACK: February 1981

  1. Hello Steve

    Happy New Year.

    I met Paul Sweeny’s brother Tom years ago when I lived at Wooloowin.

    Hope you are well.



    Sent from my iPhone


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