DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 3 2017
TUESDAY, JANUARY 17
Men of League Brisbane Committee meets at Broncos Leagues. There are television crews outside, because Broncos’ centre, James Roberts has made the front page of the paper, for allegedly pulling a girl’s hair at a Gold Coast night club.
Former Brothers’ winger, Peter Skerman talks about his National Service Days. An Army truck he was driving, broke down in front of ‘The Commercial Hotel’, Nerang. He didn’t have any money on him, so the publican gave him $5 to buy a few beers. Peter is a bit like ‘Jonesy’, from Dad’s Army. He mispronounces things. And he looks like Jonesy. Today ‘Skermo’ calls Mt Tamborine, Mt Tullamarine.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18
Drive to Blackbutt, for the unveiling of a statue of tennis great, Roy Emerson, who hails from the town. Breakfast at Woodford; lunch at Blackbutt Bakery, where the great man himself, Roy Emerson, arrives for a sausage roll, before the unveiling. Among those accompanying Roy, are his wife of 57 years (Joy); his God son, and a female visitor from Zurich, Switzerland. The actual ceremony is attended by people from near and far, including fellow tennis legends, Mal Anderson (Roy’s brother-in-law), Ashley Cooper and Wendy Turnbull; a former junior opponent of Roy’s, Barry Ruddy and his son, Bruce, who was my co-league writer for several years, at the ‘Telegraph’. The Courier-Mail’s Grantlee Kieza and Peter Wallis (photographer) cover the event. Roy tells several great yarns, including one about running barefoot, as a boy, around the dairy farm at Blackbutt, and keeping his feet warm on cold days, by jumping into the cow pats. He said he and Mal Anderson were often mistaken for one another, and this caused some hilarious situations. Roy said Americans always chuckle when he says he is from Blackbutt!! (Roy calls the US home these days). The chairman of our Queensland Rugby League History Committee, Kevin Brasch, went to Brisbane Grammar School with ‘Emmo’.
We buy children’s book, ‘Janagatha and the Family Tree’, from the author herself, Janet Skinner, who is painting in Blackbutt’s main street.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20
Queensland Rugby League History Committee meets at League headquarters, Milton. Newstead Brewery has located next door.
Former Brisbane Brothers and St George (Sydney) rugby league skipper, Trevor Bailey, tells me his son, 25, wants to be a journalist.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21
Beers at Crown, Lutwyche, where I chat to new neighbour, Len O’Brien, a former Padua College student. He was best man at wedding of Euan Landsborough, the principal of Albatross Travel in Brisbane, who we know, through our travels. Len and Euan were Con Tiki guides, in their younger days. An all Middle Eastern women’s soccer team is playing another outfit at Prentice Park, Lutwyche.
Former Murwillumbah High School friend, Bob Swales phones. He says another former classmate, Ken Paddon, has sold his Tweed Valley sugar cane farm to the Chinese. ‘Paddo’ played rugby league for Old Boys in Murwillumbah, and Bob for Souths.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 22
The ABC’S ‘Macca’ (Ian McNamara) broadcasts from Tamworth, where one of my favorite singers, Mike McClellan is part of the annual Country and Western Festival. Watch start of Munster v Racing (Paris) rugby union match, with members of the Racing club bringing out flowers as a tribute to the late Anthony Foley, a Munster man, who captained Ireland, and died in his sleep in Paris in October the previous year, when on assignment as a member of Munster’s support staff.
Drinks at Brothers Club, where Gerry McKendry recalls his recent New South Wales road trip. He described patrons of the Pacific Hotel, Yamba, as ‘rough’. Brisbane Bandits’ baseball players arrive to celebrate their win over Perth, at nearby Newmarket. ‘Good Luck Graham Timbrell’ is the name of one of the horse races from Ballina, being shown on television in the club. Timbrell chief racing correspondent for The Northern Star newspaper, must be retiring.
In the India v England cricket match, a commentator says England batsman, Joe Root has ‘a stiff groin’. During the week I heard another tv commentator joke about a white bloke in the crowd, (wearing a flash suit), probably being more concerned about his share portfolio, than the cricket. I take no offence, but isn’t this the sort of stereotyping that outrages those who wish to be outraged? It’s a harmless comment that would be met with a chuckle from the ‘silent majority’.
Photo: Blackbutt artist/author, Janet Skinner.