MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30
Former All Black, Jonah Lomu’s memorial service from Eden Park, Auckland is live on Fox. The entire Warriors’ NRL squad is in attendance and Warriors’ Kiwi international winger, Manu Vatuvei is a pall bearer.
Sports scientist at the Sydney Roosters is Pierre Austray, formerly with Carcassonne and Montpellier Rugby Union clubs, two cities where league is played. Carcassonne was always league first, union second, but that has reversed in recent years, certainly in terms of crowds.
Learn of the death of former New Zealand rugby league international, Jack Fagan who played 18 Tests between 1961 and 1965, scoring one try and kicking 45 goals. He also played another 32 (tour) matches for the Kiwis. An Otahahu junior, Fagan played his senior league with Ponsonby. There is a great interview with Fagan on the internet.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1
A couple of drinks at Breakfast Creek Hotel with the Alroe boys, John (a handy rugby league player with Brothers and Norths) and Paul (of Brisbane markets fame), as well as top race caller, Steve Hawkins, who has strong connections with Wingham in the Manning District, where I played the 1975 Group 3 season. He puts me on the phone to Taree Old Bar stalwart, Mark McEntyre, who has been in touch with me several times over league matters. Steve says my 1975 captain-coach, John McKeough has had heart surgery, and is doing well. An Englishman, Alwyn Walters, was meant to be our coach in ’75, but returned to Newcastle (Australia), and John stepped in.
Catch up with former Courier-Mail colleague, Paul Malone at Newstead Brewery, where things are very quiet.
Chris Mitchell finishes as editor of ‘The Australian’ newspaper. He was a junior sports reporter on the ‘Telegraph’ (Brisbane) when I first met him in August, 1975. He finished up being my editor at ‘The Courier-Mail’.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3
Tour Commissariat Museum (home of Royal Queensland Historical Society) in the City, before acting as MC at the Beer and Beef Christmas Party at The Pineapple Hotel, where the lawyer, turned comedian, Chris Radburn has everyone in stitches, with a robust brand of humor, which has featured on ‘The Footy Show’ He was born in Casino, but left when he was 13. Chat to Beer and Beef member, Shawn Maloney, whose uncle, Ron Griffiths played rugby league for Australia, touring New Zealand with the Kangaroos in 1949 when he was contracted to Ipswich CYMS.
My Maitland friend, Greg Grainger tells me of the death of local legend, Merv Wright, a tough indigenous player who was idolised by Newcastle fans.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5
Lovely night at riverside Hamilton, with the Playgroup ladies and their partners. Belinda’s partner, Leo, played league with Mangere East in New Zealand, with Kiwi international, Olsen Filipaina. Leo scored 57 points in a colts match against Glenora!!
Former Courier-Mail sub-editor and RadioGGG personality, Ross Thompson is now a cricket umpire, and today is standing at a game on Mount Tamborine in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Our old house, 18 Tedman Street, Zillmere is for sale.
Our youngest son, Lliam, his wife, Channelle and son, Ethan have a weekend at Poona near Maryborough. I had never heard of it. George (their dog) loves the open spaces.
Severe flooding at Hawick in Scotland where we have friends. The rugby (union) field is inundated and a footbridge over the Teviot River is washed away.