DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER.
WEEK 5 2017
TUESDAY, JANUARY 31
My wife, Marie’s brother-in-law, Neville Soward passes away in Lismore today. Neville, who married Marie’s sister, Carolyne, came from Nimbin, and played rugby league for the town’s team in the Kyogle competition. He had been battling Parkinson’s for some time. Learn also that my late mother’s first cousin, John Kelly is effectively in palliative care. More sadness, tinged with my morning tea meeting with my former Murwillumbah Brothers’ rugby league teammate, Mick Hession, whose wife, Anne passed away last year. Mick is still struggling with the loss. Mick gets back over the border whenever he can, and is a regular at Cudgen Leagues. He is doing a stock market course to keep himself busy.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1
Learn of the death of former Brisbane Brothers’ Leagues Club manager, Jock McKendry, at the age of 86. Jock ran a tight ship, and insisted on a neat dress code, in a club, which at the time, boasted a top notch restaurant and a large auditorium, which hosted many fine acts.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3
Learn of the death of British Rugby League Hall of Fame inductee, Colin Hutton at Kingston upon Hull, at the age of 90. Hutton coached the 1962 Great Britain side in Australia. They won 18 of 21 games, including the first two Tests in a three Test series. A goal kicking fullback, Hutton played for Widnes and then Hull, before coaching cross city rivals, Hull Kingston Rovers. Hutton was instrumental in getting Australian indigenous forward, Arthur Beetson to play for Hull KR in 1968. I had the pleasure of meeting Colin a number of times, both here and in England. On one occasion I had lunch with him at Brisbane’s Breakfast Creek Hotel, and interviewed him for The Courier-Mail. It was a feature story that never saw the light of day, for some reason.
Also today, I learn of the passing of former Test cricket umpire, Lou Rowan, who I also interviewed a number of times, when I wrote cricket for the Telegraph in the 1980s. I especially remember Lou’s umpiring during the 1970-71 Ashes series between Australia and England here in Australia, when there were many explosive moments, with England pace bowler, John Snow and captain, Ray Illingworth usually in the middle of them.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4
Watch a little of Northampton v Scarletts rugby union match from England, with Northampton half, Stephen Myler setting up a try for Ben Foden, with a clever kick. I can’t come to terms with a Myler, who started out in league, playing union, given Stephen’s great uncle is former Great Britain Test skipper and coach, Frank Myler. The same applies to Andy Farrell’s son, Owen. Marie and I travel to Lismore today, via our son, Damien’s place at Main Beach. His wife, Emma, is on patrol for the local surf club.
Newcastle Knights play Tweed Heads at Murwillumbah’s Stan Sercombe Oval, as a fund raiser for the local Mustangs club.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5
Excellent coffee from ‘The Bank’ in Molesworth Street, Lismore. The cafe is housed in a 1930s bank building. To Golf Club this evening, where I have a great chat with local businessman, Toby Daley and former North Coast rugby league rep., Mick Davis. Local golfers return from a trip to Tenterfield. My cabbie back to Carolyne Soward’s house, points out ‘welfare homes’, where no-one works, but they can still afford trips to Bali.
The mighty Roosters win the Auckland Nines rugby league tournament, beating Penrith 10-8 in the final, with Roosters’ star Connor Watson the player of the tournament. The Jillaroos beat the Kiwi Ferns in all three games. I am not a great fan of Nines, but it is a good means of introducing rugby league to new areas.
Former Queensland State of Origin player, Ben Te’o scores the only try – the match winner – in England’s 19-16 win over France in the Six Nations competition. Good luck to Ben, but I see him as a rugby mercenary, given he has played for Samoa, Queensland and England. I mean, to play for Queensland you have to be an Aussie, in my book. So which national anthem stirs Te’o’s soul? Samoa’s, Australia’s or England’s.
Melbourne’s Herald-Sun has 16 pages of women’s Aussies rules today and fans are turned away from Princes Park for the historic match between Carlton and Collingwood. Rugby League Week Columnist, ‘Sherlock’, once wrote that a postmortem over a snake would raise a crowd in Melbourne, and maybe he was right.
Photo: Frank Myler.