DIARY UPDATE: Week 19, 2016


To Anne Hession’s funeral. So sad. First person I bump into is my former strapper at Murwillumbah Brothers, Dave Stuart and his wife, Jo (nee Hession). Anne’s brother, Paul McDonald, a Catholic priest based at Kingscliff on the Tweed Coast, says the Requiem Mass at St Paschal’s Catholic Church, Wavell Heights in Brisbane’s northern suburbs. Gundagai based Ellen-Joy Williamson (nee Walmsley) speaks on behalf of the family. Anne had been through a lot. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008, then muscular atrophy in 2010. She also had been hit by a car years ago. The Hession’s lovely house at Wavell Heights also was partly destroyed by fire some years ago.


Former radio personality, Wayne (the poo) Roberts phones, wanting me to forward a photograph of him wearing Brisbane Brothers’ rugby league gear. Wayne, who divides his time between living in Brisbane’s west and northern Tasmania, was a dedicated Brothers’ man, and, on at least one occasion, led the side onto the field at Lang Park as part of a match day promotion. Also received an email from former workmate, David Brasch, who has just bought a copy of my book ‘Bennett’s Broncos’ (paid $20) in Port Macquarie. David, a prominent harness racing and greyhound racing journalist, wrote a book on jockey, Peter Cook.

Watch ‘Sterlo’ on Foxsports. I love the way the players still say ‘it was in the papers’, instead of ‘in the media’, given the proliferation of media forms.

There are emotional scenes at Upton Park in London, as West Ham play their last game at the stadium, which was once the site of a royal residence, and later a reformatory. Our eldest boy, Damien went to a match there with his good mate, Andrew Arnell.

My wife, Marie’s Alstonville based brother, Kevin Donnelly is recovering in hospital after a fall at work left him with a dislocated shoulder. He has a house painting business.


Learn of the death of former New South Wales rugby league skipper, Ron Saddler at the age of 74. Ron was my hero when he played for Murwillumbah Brothers in the 1961 and ’62 seasons, with my dad, Jon, the club treasurer in 1961. (See article ‘Forgotten Indigenous Hero’ on this website). I played against Ron in 1973, when he turned out for Murwillumbah Old Boys and I was a second rower for Brothers. In 1975 Ron was my coach at Brothers, but I only played in the trials, because I quit my job at ‘The Daily News’ and headed south to play for Wingham Tigers – and work as a furniture salesman (that’s another story).

Paul Neal, from New Zealand, emails re my website. He says his dad was founding president of Mangere East Rugby League Club in Auckland. He says rugby union made a big play for NZ league legend, Olsen Filipaina. Paul played with Olsen’s younger brother, Alfred.

At Stafford Shopping Centre today a lunatic in a car speeds through the car park, but then stalls at a pedestrian crossing. I laugh straight at him, as do an elderly couple and Asian bloke, who, like me, were disgusted by this driver’s disregard for his fellow citizens.


Former Australian rugby league halfback/hooker, Craig Gower is a commentator for the annual Queensland v New South Wales Residents’ match at Langlands Park in Brisbane. NSW win 30-16, with New Zealand Warriors’ winger, Ken Maumalo scoring three tries for the Blues (the Warriors play in the NSW Cup). NSW are coached by Rip Taylor, a legend in the NSW bush. Rip also had a stint as coach of Souths in Brisbane. The NSW includes Wingham Tigers’ product, Mitch Barnett, while Qld boasts Jai Arrow, a promising young forward I heard about some years back, when I was working at ‘The Courier-Mail’. His dad was part of the building staff working on interior renovations at ‘the word factory’, Bowen Hills.

WhatsApp Image 2018-04-17 at 8.21.30 AM

Upton Park.

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