DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 2 2017
MONDAY, JANUARY 9
Field a call from former ‘Courier-Mail’ colleague, Mike Colman, who has been tasked with exploring commercial opportunities for News Ltd, via rugby league. Babysit grandson, Ethan Ricketts today. He loves to watch ‘Baby Jake’ on television (ABCKids).
TUESDAY, JANUARY 10
Ethan now has a baby brother, after his mum, Channelle gives birth to (another) beautiful boy, Connor Stephen, at 2.37 p.m. It is such a thrill to have the second name, Stephen. Connor is so perfect, and Channelle looks good, despite her ‘ordeal’. Connor is six pounds 9 ounces in the old vernacular.
My brother, Andrew attends the funeral of former Iona teacher, Dennis Sacre, who was heavily involved with rugby league at the school at Lindum, on Brisbane’s southern bayside.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11
Back to the Mater Hospital to see Connor. He had a good night. Lunch at Morrison Hotel with proud, dad, Lliam and our other our son, Damien. Dry aged rib on the bone is very good.
Learn of the passing of former Gold Coast Chargers’ forward, Gavin Whittaker, 46, from stomach cancer. Whittaker was a product of the Pittsworth Danes club on the Darling Downs.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 14
Connor comes home from hospital today, in an old family (Donnelly) heirloom bassinet.
Three hours at Wynnum Leagues interviewing Bill Paten, whose dad, Bill, played two rugby league Tests for Australia (1919 v NZ; 1924 v England) and toured New Zealand with the Kangaroos. All this, from the Starlights Club in Ipswich. ‘Young Bill’, who lives at Wakerley, in Brisbane’s east, is now in his 90s, and as sharp as a tack. He played rugby league in Mackay, where his father is revered via the Bill Paten Medal, as the district’s best and fairest footballer. Bill Jnr’s daughter, now in her 60s, was a champion dancer. I was accompanied to Wynnum by Bill’s good mate, Bill Langford, who teaches at Bracken Ridge TAFE. Now 78, Langford coached Brothers’ juniors, including the likes of future senior stars, Trevor Bailey, Robert Grogan and Craig McAlpine. My Bill Paten article is to appear in Men of League magazine.
My wife loves FoxSports coverage of down-hill ski-ing from Europe. One of her favorite competitors is Swiss lass, Fanny Smith.
Watch Sir Gareth Edwards Special on FoxSports, after their live coverage of Leinster’s big win over Montpellier in the Champions Cup. Edwards is arguably the greatest player in Welsh rugby union history. Fellow rugby league historian, Lyall Beaton is upset by the appointment of Prince Harry as Patron of the Rugby Football League in England. Like former English politician, David Hinchcliffe, Lyall finds it difficult to accept that Prince Harry will now take an interest in a code, he has, to date, ignored. Hinchcliffe, in a bitter, but well reasoned open letter to the Rugby Football League, pointed out that Twickenham (rugby union’s HQ) was like a second home to Prince Harry. Hinchcliffe is upset that the League, which has never received any help from ‘The Establishment’, is now sucking up to it. Got to love the passion shown by Beaton and Hinchcliffe. The proof will be in the pudding. If Harry ignores Headingley and Odsal in favor of ‘Twickers’ and Murrayfield, he should be dumped.
Featherstone Rovers stalwart, Ian Hardman is awarded a testimonial game, for his services to rugby league. Hardman was born at Whiston in Merseyside.
Photo 1: Marie Ricketts nurses grandson, Connor Stephen, flanked by proud father, Lliam and ‘Pater’, Stephen.
Photo 2: Proud mum, Channelle celebrates, as does Connor’s brother, Ethan.