DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER.
WEEK 52, 2016
MONDAY, DECEMBER 26
Cathryn Cavaney contacts me, wanting information about my late Uncle Tom Dunne, who, with his wife, Ruby and brother, Frank, had a dairy farm at Stokers Siding, near Murwillumbah. Tom served at the Somme in World War 1. Tom was born in 1889 to Michael and Anne Dunne. His mother was a Toohey, and a sister to Cathryn’s great grandmother. I remember Tom as a great gentleman, who did not speak about the war. His brother, Frank, also was a quiet, gentle soul.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27
First birthday party for our granddaughter, Parker Ricketts (although she is not one until tomorrow) at Main Beach on the Gold Coast. Our son, Damien cooks patty cakes.
Lunch at Le Jardin, Tedder Avenue and we are joined by Damien’s principal (at Beenleigh High) Matt O’Hanlon and his wife, Donna, plus deputy principal, George Bartlett and his wife, Lenore. Also in the group is Donna’s sister from Petersham, in Sydney. Matt’s son, Pat has retired prematurely from rugby league, after an ankle injury akin to road accident trauma. Hopefully the players’ association are doing their bit to help Pat, a former Parramatta and Canterbury forward. Matt recently watched a replay of the 1978 Brisbane Rugby League grand final, between Valleys and Easts, and was impressed. Matt, who played first grade for Brothers in Brisbane, hails from Rockhampton, where his dad worked at Mac’s Brewery, ‘shoveling sludge’. George Bartlett, who played first grade for North Sydney and was an inaugural North Queensland Cowboy, tells me of the passing (a few years back) of former Sydney Wests’ player, Rob McGuinness, who taught at Dapto High on the NSW South Coast, and was a Life Member of Secondary Schools Rugby League. McGuinness played for Wests from 1962-68. Former Cowboy, Leigh Groves is coming to stay with the Bartletts, during the holidays. George said my first cousin, Bill Ricketts, taught his son at Coombabah High.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28
Damien, Emma and Parker (and their dog, Torres) fly to Townsville, to catch up with Emma’s family, and friends. I drop them at Brisbane Airport. Lots of fly-in fly-out workers. Damien and Emma present us with a ‘Parker 2017’ calendar.
My wife’s good friend, Margaret Heisner is a volunteer for the Brisbane Tennis Open, ferrying the stars to and from various places. She is sworn to secrecy about their behavior, or things they say.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29
Nice chat to one of our neighbors, Madonna Casey, who is a first cousin of Broncos’ chief executive, Paul White, and is originally from Boonah, in Queensland’s Fassifern Valley.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30
Interview (for Men of League magazine) former Australian and Queensland Rugby League director, Ben Wall at a retirement home at Albany Creek, where he resides. Ben, a product of Burdekin football, represented Queensland against New South Wales in 1964, as a goal kicking prop. His favorite players were internationals, from North Queensland – prop, Jim Paterson and winger, Lionel Williamson.
Chat to former Welsh league international, Kris Tassell at Brothers Leagues. He and his wife, Ruth and two children live at Hermitage Gardens. I covered matches that Kris played for Wales – against Papua New Guinea and Australia – at the 2000 World Cup in the UK. Kris was eligible for Wales, on heritage lines. His granddad was Welsh and worked in the mines.
Brothers’ veteran strapper, Jimmy Johnson has lost 13kg, and is pleased with himself.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31
Fire ravages the ‘Polish Place’, Mount Tamborine, a cafe/accommodation place that we have visited a few times, sometimes with oversea guests.
Photo: Tom Dunne (centre) with relatives, Elsie Brown (left) and Widgie Kelly.
NEW YEAR 2017 (I’M GETTING THERE).
SUNDAY, JANUARY 1 2017.
Our daughter, Melanie sees in the New Year, watching fireworks in Hong Kong, where she works. ABC Radio presenter fields a call from a lady from Reserve Creek, in the Tweed Shire. I stayed at Cupitt family dairy/banana farm at Reserve Creek back in the 1960s. Go to 9.30 a.m. Mass, at St Columba’s, Wilston, to get the New Year off on the right foot (Marie is at work). The priest was a pupil at St Columba’s School from 1958-62. He goes over the Pope’s Christmas Day Address. The priest is a fan of Mel Gibson movie, ‘The Passion of Christ’. The priest has a statue of Mary, which he holds, as worshippers leave. My favorite hymn, ‘Hail, Queen of Heaven’ (Star of the Sea), is sung.
This is the 80th year of baseball on the Far North Coast of New South Wales, more particularly, Lismore.
Flathead for dinner is from South Australia.
In the UK, the great ‘Stevo’ – Mick Stephenson – is awarded an MBE, for his services to rugby league, as a player and broadcaster. Stephenson played six Tests for Great Britain in 1971-72 and then moved to Australia to play for Penrith. I played against him in the Amco Cup in 1976. I also have had the pleasure of a having a chat and few ales with ‘Stevo’, both here, and in England,and he has never forgotten his Dewsbury heritage. The first I saw him play was a televised English Championship final, between Dewsbury and Leeds at Odsal Stadium, Bradford in 1973, which Dewsbury won. Also awarded an MBE is Tim Adams, a former director of the Huddersfield and Sheffield rugby league clubs, who has done great work for the code, as well as horse racing.
Photo: Mick Stephenson in his Penrith days.