MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1
To BUPA Retirement home, Tugun, to interview former Brisbane Souths prop, Jim Murdoch for Men of League magazine. Jim was instrumental in the formation of the Souths Sunnybank rugby league club, which produced the likes of internationals, Johnathan Thurston and Mark Coyne, as well as Mark’s brother, Peter, who played for St George and represented Queensland Residents.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2
To Milk Cafe, Ashgrove, where a lady asks for my newspaper, when I am finished. Trouble is, I bought it. It is not the cafe’s copy. Does anyone actually buy a newspaper any more? Attend Men of League Brisbane Committee meeting at the Broncos, where former Test centre, Justin Hodges is having coffee with marketing man, Terry Reader. Walk home along lovely Ithaca Creek. Chat to noted author, Hugh Lunn, who is enthusiastic about his latest project – ‘State of Origin The Musical’. A preview of the play was well received by the Queensland Rugby League hierarchy. Hugh mentions so many former players in our chat, among them Lloyd McDermott, Warren Orr, Richie Twist, Lionel Morgan and Norm Pope. McDermott played league as a junior, before going to a Brisbane private school, but then returned to league with Wynnum-Manly after representing Australia in union. The rest were league men through and through.
Bloke I drink with at Brothers club is disappointed that his grandson has switched from league (Brothers) to union (Everton Park). “I have to watch that bloody game now,” he says.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3
News breaks that Wayne Bennett will coach the England Rugby League side. He is not the first Aussie to do so, of course, with David Waite and Brian Smith having done the job previously. At least the British journalists should be able to understand Wayne. I remember when the British side toured Australia in 1984, their coach, Frank Myler almost needed an interpreter, given his broad Lancashire accent and gruff voice.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4
Meet with Steve Haddan about his proposed book, ‘Our Game’ The History of Brisbane Rugby League. The drafts of the various chapters are excellent. Look at several old programs. One details the Australian rugby league players’ dislike of their base at Ilkley in West Yorkshire during the 1959 tour of England and France. Another article talks of the best tram stop for Brothers’ new home ground at Corbett Park, Grange. A curtain raiser to a big match in Brisbane sees the local Cavendish Road High playing James Cook High from Sydney, and there is an ‘A Psaltis’ in the Cav Road side, surely a relation of noted broadcaster, Peter Psaltis.
Legendary British Rugby League administrator, Harry Jepson, from Hunslet in West Yorkshire, turns 96 today.
Suzanne Young quits as NRL COO, to work in the finance industry.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6
To Easts’ ground, Langlands Park for a live rugby league fix – Gold Coast Titans under-20s v Melbourne Storm under-20s. Titans win 32-16. Their number 20 (no program) – a Polynesian lad – rushes out of the line to make big hits. The Titans’ indigenous halfback looks sharp. Easts’ chairman, Keith Phillips says Storm under-20s will be based on the Sunshine Coast. Discover that Easts’ senior player, Guy Hamilton is a grandson of former star Easts’ halfback, Stan Neave, who was part of my 1994 Kangaroo supporters’ tour to Britain. After lunch in Easts’ Leagues Club, my wife and I chat to Neryl Nielson, another member of that supporters’ tour (with her now deceased husband, Athol). Neryl, whose son, Scott was a long serving forward for Easts, is considering moving to Kelso in Scotland to live. Enjoying a drink at the club is former Courier-Mail journalist, Col Woods.
Former Rothmans’ boss, Des Hancock passes away. Des was a good friend to rugby league and the writers, and, while I realise his job was to promote a deadly (but legal) habit (smoking), one that I have never tried, you can tell when someone is a good bloke, and he was a good bloke. Rugby League in Brisbane and Sydney was identified as ‘The Winfield Cup’ for so many years, both here and in New Zealand. Anyhow….
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7
Watch the Auckland Nines on Foxsports. Newcastle Knights player, Jaleem Feeney, a Nerang Roosters’ product, throws the ball at the referee in the quarter final against Parramatta. Not a good look.
Cynthia Harris from Boondall, a close friend of our daughter, Melanie, has a new business website – Heart Recruitment.