MONDAY, MARCH 21
Chat to new neighbour, Chris Bartlett, a former work colleague at The Courier-Mail. He says he is one of the oldest in the office now, and he has not hit 50! Chris is about to cycle to Wilston-Grange Aussie rules, where he coaches the under-12s. He likes his league and recalls going to a Wynnum-Manly v Valleys Brisbane club match in 1987. Wear my Roosters’ polo shirt to Brothers’ Leagues Club, and an English fellow remarks that he has never heard of the Roosters. He then sits down with his wife to watch a rugby union match on television. Tonight I watch Four Corners Special on Stephen Dank and the Essendon AFL drugs scandal. Stephen used to be a water boy for Valleys’ rugby league in Brisbane, and his father, Carl, played for Valleys. I also watch NRL match from Brookvale Oval. Crowd of 5,122 is pathetic. OK. The weather was dismal, but it’s just not good enough for a competition which claims to be world class and is showcased on sports channels around the world.
TUESDAY, MARCH 22
Interesting sight under Webster Road bridge, Kedron Brook. An Asian gentleman, with no hands, is fishing, while an ancient lady looks on, and another lady forages in the bushes for something – plants for cooking or medicine, I suppose. No hands or not, I bet he is a better fisherman than me.
Learn of the death of Sydney restaurant icon, Beppi Polese, 90, a pioneer of Italian dinning in the New South Wales’ capital. I dined several times at Beppi’s, back in the 1980s, usually with Sydney Sun league writer, Geoff Prenter. In 1985 I took British Rugby League legend, Alex Murphy to Beppi’s. Alex, who was in Australia scouting players for St Helens, was staying at the same hotel as me at Rushcutters Bay.
FRIDAY, MARCH 25
Good Friday rugby league at Suncorp Stadium, with the Broncos winning their grand final re-match with the Cowboys 21-20, thanks to a 40 metre field goal from five eighth, Anthony Milford. Suncorp is one of the few places to get a beer. Many years ago, Good Friday matches in Sydney drew big crowds because you could get a beer at the venue. Now that Sydney is a heathen city (only joking), and everything opens, the Good Friday matches do not have the same appeal. It is easier to get a beer at Suncorp than it is to get a copy of the official match program, Big League. Chat to former Queensland State of Origin forward, Scott Sattler. He is on crutches as a result of an injury in a charity match. Also see Jim Vanderham, former Brisbane Wests’ fullback, who had a season with Tonneins in France. Watch the game, from in front of the press box, with former Rugby League Week editor, Tony Durkin. Former Broncos’ Test prop, Shane Webcke breezes by. “Everything old is new again,” he says, when he sees ‘Durko’ and me. Marie watches with her good friend, Margaret Heisner, who brings a quilt (which she made) for our granddaughter, Parker.
Marie had been to Rebel Sport earlier in the day – Aussie rules footballs everywhere, very few rugby league balls. Maybe that means the Aussie rules footballs could not be sold!
Radio icon, Ray Hadley fields a lovely call from 90 year-old Thelma Higgins from Mt Gravatt in Brisbane.
Learn of the death of former New Zealand rugby league star, George Menzies, who came from the West Coast of the South Island. George, a coal miner, played 29 Tests between 1951 and ’61.
SUNDAY, MARCH 27
After Mass at St Columba’s, Grange we have brunch at ‘Morning After’, West End, then to Davies Park for Souths-Logan v Ipswich Intrust Super Cup rugby league match. We get there 20 minutes into first grade and miss three tries scored by Ipswich flyer, Marmin Barba. Speak to Broncos trainer, Steve Hooper, as well as player/manager, Paul Srama. At the invitation of Souths CEO, Jim McClelland, we watch the second half from the VIP area upstairs in the club house. Chat to lots of people, among them former state halfback, John Salter and former boxing champion, Jeff Malcolm, a devoted Souths’ man. John was a brilliant player, but was never the same after he copped knees in the back, scoring a try for Queensland against New South Wales in 1977. The bloke who did it, should have been sent off. I was on the terraces that day with my wife, and my parents. After the Davies Park match, Marie and I catch up with Bernie Power (ex Powers Brewing) and his son, Grant; Ipswich league identities, Steve Johnson and Jim Landy and the Walker clan, Gary (ex Norths and Brothers) and wife, Tricia, and two of their sons, Ben and Shane, who are coaches of Ipswich first grade.
Our youngest boy, Lliam and his wife, Channelle are spending Easter over the border, and today they have pies from Uncle Tom’s, on the old Pacific Highway, near Mullumbimby. As a kid, I always wanted dad to stop the car at Uncle Tom’s.