MONDAY, MARCH 14
Walk to Shine of Remembrance in Royal Botanic Gardens. People of all races and creeds there, some a little disrespectful, in my view. Lunch at Sake. Excellent – calamari, duck dumplings, prawn shumai. Good live music outside the GPO. Drinks at Uni Pub, Lygon Street. Wait forever to get a cab, after an Asian lady jumps in front of us. Lucky to get a table at excellent France Soir Restaurant. All French waiters. Asians either side of us, photograph their food.
Former Roosters’ star forward, Des O’Reilly’s funeral is held at Sunnybank, Brisbane today and most of the 1975 premiership winning side attend. Roosters’ officials hand out ties. The wake is held at the Glenn Hotel.
TUESDAY, MARCH 15
To historic Como House, which is closed for a private function. Marie remembers it from her coach trip to Tasmania in 1967. Walk around Toorak, before getting a cab to the airport. Our Indian driver is friendly and efficient. He has been here 10 years. Watch the movie ‘Everest’ on the flight. Scary.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16
Former Test rugby league halfback, Ross Strudwick is guest speaker at our Men of League lunch at Broncos Leagues Club. I interview him about the 1975 World Cup campaign; his club playing career at St George (Sydney) and Valleys (Brisbane) and then his coaching career at Valleys, Brisbane Brothers, Halifax (UK) and London.
Men of League Brisbane Committee annual meeting is held after the lunch and chairman, Ron Atkins, now 80, steps down, with former Schweppes executive, Ian Gatenby the new man. Ian played rugby league at Tumut, and in the South Sydney district. His captain-coach at (Souths) was Peter Ryan, a former rival from my Tweed rugby league days.
Former Australian rugby union skipper, Andrew Slack finishes at Channel 9, where he has been head of sport for some time. The station pays him a nice tribute. ‘Slacky’ – a great man. At one stage he was sports reporter at ‘The Courier-Mail’, and covered rugby league.
THURSDAY, MARCH 17
Surf at Main Beach. Chinese tourists get photographs with blonde bikini lass, and then a blonde family. Breakfast at ‘Beaches’, Main Beach with our daughter-in-law, Emma; our lovely granddaughter, Parker and, of course, Torres (the dog). Lots of empty shops in ritzy Tedder Avenue. Some locals reckon it is because it is so easy to get on a tram and go to Broadbeach, where there are more options. Watch Wigan v Widnes match in English Super League, and Widnes’ forward, Rhys Hanbury (an Aussie from Wollongong) says he is ‘buggered’. Such an Aussie expression, but possibly taken the wrong way elsewhere.
SATURDAY, MARCH 19
Wests belt Valleys in a Brisbane Rugby League match at Emerson Park, Grange. I chat to former Valleys’ prop, Shane Kelly; Valleys official, Vince Buckley and fellow league historian, Paul Hayes. Next stop, Wilston State School to vote in Brisbane City Council elections. Marie and I have drinks at Brewmasters (formerly Treacle) on Maygar street. Lots of kids there, some going to Suncorp Stadum for Reds v Auckland rugby union match. There is live music at Brewmasters – a female, who does a nice version of one of my favorite songs, ‘To Love Somebody’.
Learn of the death of prominent Central Queensland Rugby League official, Ron Wilkinson, 86. Ron, a butcher by trade, was co-manager on the 1990 Kangaroo tour of Britain and France. He told me he enjoyed the trip, and even published his own diary. But there were times, he said when he was treated disrespectfully, by certain players.
My wife once had a share in a race horse called ‘Almost Tango’, which was trained by Sel Andrew from Gatton. Well today, Sel’s son, Brenton gets his first city winner – Royal Hussy – at Doomben. Sel is there for the big occasion.
SUNDAY, MARCH 20
Rod Tiley (‘Mr T’) announces on radio in Perth that he only has weeks to live because of liver cancer. Rod is one of Australia’s best known sports broadcasters and news readers. I first met him at Murwillumbah in 1973, when he was working for 2MW and calling Tweed rugby league. He did his homework on players when he first arrived in town, and one night, after we (Brothers) finished training, Rod came to our pub to get to know us. I remember he had a great chat to our veteran second rower, Jimmy Hayes.
Roy Masters sticks up for rugby league on ABC’s Offsiders as the conversation, inevitably, drifts to Aussie rules, even though the subject matter is new NRL official, Todd Greenberg.
Our niece, Sonia Pope (nee Galea) wins another softball premiership in Lismore.