TUESDAY, JULY 21
Men of League Committee meeting at Broncos as the footy team trains on the fields below. I bump into ‘The King’ Wally Lewis (Channel 9), as well as Courier-Mail journalist, Chris Garry. Brings back memories of my coverage of (so many) Broncos’ training runs. Hermitage Gardens, manager, Harry Moore tells me one of his dad’s drinking mates years ago was ex-Brothers’ prop, Steve Lean, a Bundaberg hotelier, now at Kingaroy. Customs House in Brisbane hosts State Government Treasury function, with our daughter, Melanie the prime event organiser. Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk tweets (positively) about the do. I am ‘Linked-in’ with Greg Reynolds, coach of the 1989 Queensland Residents’ side in France, a tour which I covered for ‘The Courier-Mail’. Greg has now retired – from BHP. QRL History Committee chairman, Kevin Brasch and his wife, Tilly visit former Brisbane Rugby League executive officer, Bill Hunter at his new abode at Rainbow Beach, on the coast near Gympie.
Confirmation the New South Wales Rugby League Club in Phillip Street has closed its doors because of falling business revenue. The code first took up residence there in 1914. I went there many times – for judiciary hearings, Kangaroo reunions and press conferences, the most momentous after Kerry Packer addressed the clubs, as rival media mogul Rupert Murdoch threatened a takeover of the code. The most memorable judiciary matters involved kneeing incidents – Broncos’ prop, Greg Dowling (guilty) on Balmain half, Gary Freeman; Broncos’ centre, Steve Renouf (not guilty) on Manly winger, Jack Elsegood,
WEDNESDAY JULY 22
Lunch at Breakfast Creek Hotel to discuss upcoming reunion for Souths Magpies’ 1985 premiership side. Also at the table, Souths CEO, Jim McClelland; former Test prop and ABC commentator, David Wright and former Souths, Easts and Halifax (UK) utility, Bob Hudson. Bob tells some great yarns about his time in England, including the night teammate, Bob Arnold (another Brisbane boy) leapt over a stone fence, not realising there was a huge drop to a creek. Bob (Arnold) miraculously, made a ‘full’ recovery and played football again. After lunch we adjourn to the public bar, catching up with former Test centre, Chris Johns, Paul Alroe and ‘Mick the Builder’.
Tonight watch ‘Sterlo’ (Peter Sterling) interview the Walters brothers, Steve, Kevin and Kerrod, real Aussie blokes. They don’t make them like that any more.
At a muddy field at Nerang, Beenleigh High beat Aquinas College in Titans Rugby league Schools Challenge. Our eldest son, Damien is head of the league program at Beenleigh. When I attended Murwillumbah High, we would play the occasional match against Aquinas, and these were always willing affairs. There is something ‘special’ about a state school playing a private school.
THURSDAY, JULY 23
My Taree based English mate, Brian Atherton and former North Sydney forward, John Sullivan do clean-up work at the farm of former Test centre, Harry ‘Dealer’ Wells, near Port Macquarie. Harry, now in his 80s, is recovering from an operation. When Brian was my captain-coach at Murwillumbah in 1973, the Mullumbimby Giants were one of our great rivals, and they are featured on ‘The Footy Show’ tonight, along with Allan Langer’s first club, Norths Ipswich. My understanding of the Giants name is that it came from English player, Joe Grainey, who was captain-coach at Mullumbimby in the early 1970s. I played against him. The club went on a winning run and someone in the local media (not me) called them Grainey’s Giants. Maria (Italian heritage) cuts my hair today, telling me she thinks rugby league is now a game for thugs.
Bump into former Radio TAB announcer, Mark Forbes at Brothers club. He is limping badly and is no hope of participating in the ‘Brook Run’, which is he organises.
FRIDAY, JULY 24
To Pullman Hotel for Special Olympics Charity Lunch, where Broncos’ coach, Wayne Bennett is guest speaker and former Wallaby, Dan Crowley the MC. Wayne is excellent. I sit between Brian Atherton and former Brisbane Wests and Tonneins (France) rugby league fullback, Jim Vanderham, who is my guest. My book ‘Bennett’s Broncos’, signed by Wayne Bennett, fetches $260 at a silent auction. On the way home my African cabbie has the AFL on and doesn’t know how to switch to AM so I can listen to the NRL! – Broncos v Titans.
SUNDAY, JULY 26
To Edinburgh Castle pub for a beer after a long walk. NRL flags everywhere in the bar, but AFL is being shown on the main screen. Bloody Aussie rules people!
The Duke of Norfolk’s XI plays a Sydney Cricket Ground XI at Arundel Castle. It is on my bucket list to see a match there.
Learn that dual international, Andrew Walker – now 41 – is still playing league – for West End in Ipswich.
My wife goes to Kelvin Grove markets and things are quiet. “There are too many markets’ says ‘the apple man’ from Stanthorpe.