MONDAY, FEBRUARY 29
Interview former New South Wales State of Origin forward, Des O’Reilly for Men of League magazine. Des is in Greenslopes Hospital, and may only have days to live, as he battles stomach cancer. The former Roosters and Cronulla star is so brave, allowing me the privilege of speaking to him. It rams home the fragility of life. He is on the phone to former Roosters’ teammate, Bob Jones from Redcliffe when I arrive. Like me, Des grew up following the Roosters, and he was on The Hill at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1967 when Easts (the Roosters) beat Canterbury 18-2 in their first Match-of-the-Day in ages. Easts did not win a game in 1965. I was in Lismore Base Hospital on the weekend of that SCG clash, having broken my cheek bone making a tackle in a Tweed under-15 selection trial. When mum and dad arrived with a copy of the ‘Sunday Telegraph’, with details of Easts’ win, it pepped me up no end. I even shed a tear.
On the way to Greenslopes, we stopped at Bowen Hills to pick up one of Des’s mates, Rick Cronk. I jokingly asked whether Rick was related to Melbourne Storm’s Test halfback, Cooper Cronk. Turns out he is Cooper’s Dad. Rick used to work as a printer at the now defunct ‘Daily Sun’ in Brisbane, and these days is doing it a bit tough. Rick grew up with Des at Bondi.
My wife sees a big green snake in the pool area at our town house estate. They’re harmless, you know.
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Lady of Italian background, who cuts my hair at Stafford, reckons her boss wants her to leave, because she is due long service next year. Bloke before me has a rat’s tail, and the bloke after me, elongated ear rings. My old barber from Murwillumbah, Tom Alder (if you want to get balder, go to Tommy Alder), would be horrified.
Watch the first match of the NRL season – the Broncos beat the Eels 17-4 at Parramatta.
Take a phone call, out of the blue, from Allan Fitzgerald in Toowoomba, wanting to know if I am interested in a business opportunity. I politely decline. I took many calls, some at mid-night, from Allan, back in the 1980s when he was an official of the Wandoan-Taroom Rugby League Club, and was wanting to sign players from the city.
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Watch second half of Super League match between Warrington Wolves and Salford at Salford. Former Parramatta halfback, Chris Sandow kicks a 40 metre field goal, on the final hooter, to get Warrington (‘The Wire’, I still call them) home.
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
A first birthday bash for our grandson, Ethan. Lots of kids and noise, but very pleasant. Ethan is such a gorgeous kid. He looks smart in his Brisbane Broncos’ gear.
SUNDAY, MARCH 6
‘Day on The Green’ at Sirromet Wines is a real winner. We get the bus there after a quick look at a wedding Expo in Brisbane City Hall. We are hosted in Sirromet’s VIP Tent by Rod Hill, such a pleasant, urbane man. Tracey Reid, from Sirromet’s Sales and Marketing arm, is so efficient and friendly. Concert fans, mostly middle aged, are well behaved. Bands include Died Pretty, Sunnyboys, Violent Femmes, Hoodoo Gurus. Sunnyboys’ front man, Jeremy Oxley, is the son of my former art teacher at Murwillumbah High, Eric Oxley. Mr Oxley thought me the least talented student of the class.
Learn of the death of Nola Whalan, 88, the widow of one of my dad’s former South Lismore rugby league teammates, John Whalan. John was a big man, who had a saying. “He’ll bruise easy”.