DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 48 2016
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29
Marie and I watch movie ‘The Founder’, about the guy who founded McDonalds. In 1973, ‘Big Phil Batty’ and I flew to Sydney for a lads’ weekend, and, at one stage, found ourselves at North Sydney Leagues Club. We had a few bevvies with a bloke who gave us a couple of McDonald’s hamburger gift cards. He told us, wherever we saw the Golden Arches, we should feel free to go in and redeem the cards. I did not see any golden arches until four or five years later, when I was driving along the Gold Coast Highway, and there was a McDonalds, at Mermaid Beach. By this time my vouchers were tattered and torn, but the lovely staff behind the counter accepted them, and I had my first Big Mac. The last time I had McDonalds in Australia, from memory, was on the way from Sydney to Newcastle for a Broncos’ match, probably 10 or 12 years ago. And it wasn’t my choice. I was in a car with some of the Broncos’ staff, and they got an attack of the hungries.
While we were watching ‘The Founder’, our car was being serviced at Subaru, Newstead. When you pay the bill, they give you a small bottle of their honey, produced on the roof of the premises. A sweetener for a hefty price. Buy draught beer, in re-usable bottles, from Newstead Brewery.
We have new neighbours – Len and Vicki O’Brien. He is a former tour guide – in Europe – and Customs Department employee. She is a public servant. They also have a dog minding business!!
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30
There is a bloke on a unicycle, going up our street!! Marie says there are lots of aggressive bike riders on the Kedron Brook path.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2
I MC Beer and Beef Club Christmas lunch at Customs House. Multi talented Steve Haddan is the guest artist, cracking jokes and promoting his book ‘Our Game’, about the history of club rugby league in Brisbane, 1908-87. I have an interesting chat to former Redcliffe forward, Mark Cherry, who has some great tales about the club’s former fiery prop, the late John Barber.
Two beers at Alliance Hotel, Spring Hill, where I chat to licensee, Nick Gregorski. My Punjabi cab driver says arranged marriages are as good as ‘love’ marriages. (I don’t know how we got on to that subject). I tell him it’s about time he entered the 21st century, particularly as he calls Australia home. My former News Ltd sports department colleague, the late Peter ‘Chippy’ Frilingos, had a hard and fast rule about taxi trips. He would say to the driver: “Drive, Don’t Talk”. It’s probably the safest bet.
At Beenleigh High, where our eldest boy, Damien teaches, he has the kids in fits of laughter with his impersonation of a Year 12 rugby league scholarship kid.
It is 10 years ago today, that Trad McLean starts work as Broncos’ media officer. Time goes quickly. He is still there, and doing a great job.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3
Babysit Parker Ricketts, while her parents, our eldest boy, Damien and wife, Emma, attend Beenleigh High Christmas do at Eagle Farm races. ‘Damo’ wears his Pop, Kevin ‘Pat’ Donnelly’s hat to the races. Beenleigh principal, Matt O’Hanlon dresses as a pilot and the Virgin (Airlines) promotional girls love him.
Marie’s niece, Jacki Donnelly (husband, Scott) gives birth to a boy, nine pounds. Ryhs – a natural birth.
At Tweed Heads, the last Border Park greyhound racing meet is held. I hated Border Park dogs, because, as a cadet journalist, I had to wait back late on Friday night to take the results of the last race. I also had to take crime reports from the Surfers Paradise beat, and, in those days, they were sent through by a man, who would one day become my editor at The Courier-Mail, Des Houghton. He was a bit slow with his copy. Sorry Des.
Photo: Damien Ricketts (in his pop’s hat) with wife, Emma