TUESDAY, JULY 19
To Sydney for Men of League gala dinner. Fog delays our flight from Brisbane. Bump into former Australian wicket keeper, Ray Phillips at Brisbane Airport. He had been to Sydney to see Billy Crystal. Queensland under-23 softball team at our departure lounge. I rescue old couple, who didn’t realise it was last call for their flight to Darwin. In Sydney, our cabbie is from Somalia. Has been here 20 years. Has IT qualifications, he tells us. Lunch at Akaneya Japanese Restaurant. Blokes near us talk about rugby union at Chatswood Oval.
Dinner is excellent. There is a tribute to those who have passed in recent times, among them former Sydney Wests Magpies’ hooker, Ken Stonestreet. I didn’t realise he had died. Former Sydney Morning Herald journo., now NRL employee, Glen Jackson at out table. Wally Lewis and his wife, Jacqueline greet us warmly. Chat to Mick Veivers and his wife, Betty. Mick, a former Test prop, television commentator and politician, is honored by Men of League for his services to the code, and the community. Finish up in lobby bar with Canberra Raiders ‘Godfather’, John McIntyre (JR) and his wife, Anita; former Test hooker, Royce Simmons; journalist, Paul Kent; the legendary Noel Kelly, (hooker in the Australian Team of the Century); and South Sydney great, Bob McCarthy. There are some wonderful yarns.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 20
No newspapers for sale at strange convenience store opposite hotel. Asian lady behind counter is rude. To New South Wales Library for the ‘Color In Darkness’, World War 1 photographic exhibition. Dinner at ‘Felix’. Good, but not as good as we hoped. I had lamb pie and and Marie ‘the duck’.
Learn of the death of former Tweed Heads Seagulls’ secretary, Col Hayes, 80. I first met Col, a former school teacher, when I covered Group 18 committee meetings, upstairs, at ‘The Court House Hotel’, Murwillumbah. Col was instrumental in Seagulls getting a licence for their leagues club at West Tweed Heads in 1972.
THURSDAY, JULY 21
Marie breaks her toe, after kicking it on a luggage holder in our room. It was badly positioned and jutted out too far. Hotel give us a fruit tray as an apology. Ferry to Manly. Takeaway fish and chips from Sebel. Served by a nice young bloke from Shoreham in West Sussex, England. A large pod of dolphins frolic off shore as we eat. We walk past the Far West Children’s Home, where Marie spent several months as an 11-year-old, because of a knee problem. She tells me she had a ‘boyfriend’ from Narrabri. Drinks at 4 Pines Brewery. To ‘The Rocks’ on our return to Sydney. ‘Fortune of War’ pub is closed for renovations. To ‘Orient’ instead.
FRIDAY, JULY 22
Our shower is barely lukewarm. Not good enough, in a luxury hotel. Our cabbie to airport, is a Fijian/Indian. Lived here 42 years. New South Wales Women’s rugby league side at the airport. Their coach is former NSW prop, Ben Cross. Back in Brisbane we attend the Broncos v Penrith match at Suncorp Stadium. Penrith win 31-12, the eighth time an Anthony Griffin coached side has beaten a Wayne Bennett coached team. Amazing. Beenleigh High School players are in the stands and Broncos’ five eighth, Anthony Milford goes out of his way to say hello to them.
England’s Academy rugby league side beats Penrith 28-22 at Penrith.
SUNDAY, JULY 24
On ABC Radio, Macca plays moving song, ‘Last Man from Dunolly’, sung by Michael Whittle. Drinks at Brothers’ Leagues this afternoon. Why are some punters so noisy?
Photo: Bob McCarthy