MONDAY, MAY 2
Learn of the passing of Anne Maree Hession (nee McDonald), after a long battle with illness. She was only 62, the wife of one my former schoolmates and Murwillumbah Brothers’ rugby league teammates, Mick Hession. Anne grew up on the family Jersey dairy farm on the Tweed River, right next door to the township of Murwillumbah. She went to Mt St Patrick High School, while I went to the local State High School. When I started work as a cadet journalist at The Daily News, she was the first girl I dated. Our daughter, Melanie went to St Rita’s College in Brisbane with Anne and Mick’s daughter, Catherine. I would see Mick and Anne quite regularly at the post office they ran at Newmarket Shopping Centre, here in Brisbane’s north. Mick previously worked for Ansett Airlines, and battled hard for many years to ensure his fellow workers got all their entitlements.
Marie and I return to Brisbane from our Noosa holiday, via Morgan’s Seafood, Shorncliffe.
TUESDAY, MAY 3
A couple of beers at ‘The Albion’ pub, where I hear a bloke, 62, say he gave up grog 32 years ago, through self discipline. But he smokes and gambles! A group of tradies express their displeasure at the NRL Bunker system. A lass, of Indian background, walks into the pub looking for a job.
Walk home along Kedron Brook. A deranged cyclist goes by, in the dark without a light. I didn’t say anything, but as he passed, he yelled out: “I don’t need a light. I’m a rapist”. Two skate boarders go by, and one comments that his 65-year-old grandfather is cool, because he likes ‘Green Day’.
Learn of the death of English league great, Roger Millward. I first saw Roger play one cold night at Wheldon Road, Castleford. Referee, Mick Naughton took my wife and I to the match from Widnes, where he lived, and we were staying on a working holiday. Roger, playing for Hull Kingston Rovers, was lining up up a kick for goal, when he was pelted with snow balls. A bit different to the rain of cans at Lang Park. The first time I met Roger was in Maryborough, Queensland, during Great Britain’s tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1979. Through my Widnes’ friend, Mick Adams, (one of the British forwards) I was invited back to the team hotel for drinks, after their win over Wide Bay, and at first Roger was suspicious of an Australian in the midst of the Poms. But he gradually relaxed and was excellent company. I put Roger up there with the finest footballers, any code, produced in the UK.
FRIDAY, MAY 6
Watch the Trans-Tasman rugby league Test from Newcastle. Found it boring. Australia won 16-0, but New Zealand tried to throw the ball around more than us. It was Mal Meninga’s first game as Australian coach. Fijian born and bred, Semi Radradra makes his debut for Australia. I wonder how proud he is to be an ‘Aussie’.
The Kiwi Ferns beat the Australian Jillaroos 26-16 in the Women’s Test, which was far more entertaining, from what I heard. Former Australian coach, Bob Fulton was full of praise for the ladies.
SUNDAY, MAY 8
Mother’s Day lunch at Kingsley’s Restaurant, riverside in Brisbane, after a stroll around the Botanic Gardens Markets (ordinary) and one drink at grotty Pig N Whistle pub, where a few patrons are watching NBA and the fights. Our waiter at Kingsley’s is Canadian. Also dining in the restaurant, with family, is former Australian fast bowler, Craig McDermott, who I interviewed a number of times when I covered cricket in the 1980s. I also interviewed him when I was MC at a sportsmen’s night for St Kevin’s Catholic School, Geebung when my former Brothers’ teammate, John Leyden, was principal and Craig was contracted to Carlton and United Breweries. I chat to Craig and later to Australian Rugby League coach, Mal Meninga, who had been dining at Il Centro, after guiding the Kangaroos to victory last night. Mal says it was a ‘real’ Test, dour and unforgiving.
Watch (New South Wales) Country v City match from Scully Park, Tamworth with the Brad Fittler coached City side winning 44-30 in an attractive match. It was a nice touch to see the players shake hands beforehand, something we always did when I played in the bush in the 1970s.