MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22
Up at 4.45 a.m. to watch live telecast of Leeds v North Queensland Cowboys World Club Challenge match. It was only 4-4 at halftime, but the Cowboys went on to win 38-4. Cowboys skipper, Johnathan Thurston received the Graham Murray Medal as player of the match, presented by Graham’s widow, Amanda. Graham, who died of a heart attack in 2013, coached both Leeds and the Cowboys. I watched the other northern hemisphere – southern hemisphere challenge matches over the weekend with two more lop sided scores – Sydney Roosters 38 d St Helens 12 and Brisbane Broncos 42 d St Helens 12. The results, as predictable as they might have been, did nothing for the credibility of Super League and harked back to 1997, when the then ‘rebel’ Super League Australian clubs played their English counterparts, with some of the big defeats suffered by English clubs damaging the average Australian’s view of the game in the UK.
Our daughter, Melanie says my (failed) crusade (at the urging of ‘Telegraph’ editor, Lionel Hogg) to get ABBA to come to Queensland in 1977, is all over Facebook.
My good mate, Greg Grainger tells me the Imperial Hotel and ‘Roundhouse’ (formerly Tweed Tavern) have shut, leaving only The Court House and Riverview operating at full throttle as pubs in Murwillumbah. When I lived in Murwillumbah, there also was ‘The Australian’ and ‘The Murwillumbah’, the latter the venue for Brothers’ rugby league raffles. There also was a shed out the back, built specially for our post match showers.
Marie and I watch a moving special on the late Bart Cummings, Australian’s champion race horse trainer.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Watch Irish/American movie, ‘Brooklyn’. Very good. Sad and happy. We have lunch at James Street Markets. Former champion swimmer, Lisa Curry is there.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25
There will not be any programs at Intrust Super Cup matches this year. So sad. A program is an essential part of the match day experience, even in this digital age. That is my view.
In 1982, the inaugural state league in Queensland saw an ambitious attempt by the league’s marketing arm to get the program up to the standard of the VFL Record (Australian rules program for Melbourne). So, the first program was 48 pages, the same size as the VFL Record. But the QRL had sold only one or two advertisements, whereas the VFL Record was chock full of the revenue raisers. So, yours truly, had to fill the program with editorial (for no extra money). I worked so hard on that first program, interviewing one player from each of the 14 teams. On the opening night of the competition, at North Ipswich Reserve, I turned up 20 minutes before kick-off expecting to see the program in the hands of many in the crowd of around 4,000. Much to my horror, the programs were just being unpacked from their boxes, with most of the crowd already in their seats. The programs had been delivered hours earlier. I just wanted to scream. This proved a typical scenario over the years, with league officials regarding the program almost as a stone around their neck, instead of an integral part of the day. The QRL failed to sell many ads, and, ultimately the program was reduced in size, thank heavens. One of the first players I interviewed was Ipswich centre, Dirk Tazelaar, who would go on to be a better cricketer than he was footballer, representing Queensland and also playing for Surrey in England.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26
Marie and I attend the funeral for her uncle, Alan Landrigan at Casino. The old priest, who conducts the service, picks up on Alan and his wife, Nancy’s ballroom dancing past, and says the youth of today don’t know what they’re missing. At the cemetery, my wife, Marie puts the form guide on Alan’s coffin. The wake is held at The Oxford pub. The publican, a pall bearer, regarded Allan and Nancy as family. We drive home via Lions Road, which crosses the Border Ranges into Queensland
Watch jazz singer, Nina Simone live (1976) in Montreux, Switzerland, before retiring. She seemed a very angry lady.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28.
It is 45 years since Tweed Seagulls were granted a licence, for their premises at West Tweed Heads. In 1971, without the backing of a licensed club, Seagulls finished last in the Group 18/Gold Coast League. The next season, with the club behind them, they made the grand final, only to be beaten by a Gold Coast Tigers’ side, which included future Test centre, Steve Rogers. In those days, grand finals were played at Murwillumbah.