DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 11 2017
MONDAY, MARCH 13
Lots of learner surf board riders at Raglan beach. Wild road into the hills, takes us to Toto Gorge. Fish and chips at Raglan Wharf, where Asian businessmen are leaving on a harbor cruise. Evening drinks on the verandah of the Harbor View Hotel, with two Kiwi journalists. He is 67, retired, having previously worked at the ‘Herald Sun’ in Melbourne. She still works for the local paper, ‘The Chronicle’. She says I look like the lead actor from ‘800 Words’ television series. Watch lovely sunset from Orca restaurant.
Learn that ‘Rugby League Week’ is to close after 47 years of publication. So Sad. I always look forward to getting my ‘League Week’ fix. I contributed the odd article. In particular I recall filing from Roma, in the early 1980s, when Redcliffe played there against Toowoomba.
TUESDAY, MARCH 14
Woken at 2 a.m. by an earthquake alarm, which went on for some time – the alarm that is. I thought I had felt a tremor beforehand. No, seriously. Back to Australia today. Drinks in Bar 1958 at airport, where there is a bloke in a New South Wales State of Origin jumper. Australia, here we come. On the flight, the bloke beside me is constantly on his computer, and says nothing. I watch ‘Jack Reacher’, Marie ‘Lion’. The little house at the end of our street (Uxbridge) has been demolished.
THURSDAY, MARCH 16
MC Men of League Lunch at Club Pine Rivers, where I interview former Test forward, Bryan Niebling. Bryan revealed he knocked back a lucrative offer to play under the coaching of Wayne Bennett at Brisbane Souths in 1978, opting instead to fulfill his dream of playing first grade for his home town, Murgon. (Wouldn’t it be nice if young blokes had at least one season of first grade in the bush). When Niebling moved to Brisbane in 1979, he signed with Valleys and won a premiership with the Ross Strudwick led Diehards, beating Bennett’s Magpies 26-0 in the grand final.
Watch Storm v Broncos from Melbourne, with the Storm winning, thanks to a late try by winger, Josh Addo-Carr and a sideline conversion by Cameron Smith. Broncos’ forward, Sam Thaiday comes under scrutiny for twisting the bandaged hand of Storm prop, Jesse Bromwich, and is charged with contrary conduct.
FRIDAY, MARCH 17
Our daughter-in-law, Channelle sees a drunk Irishman in a kilt in Wilston Village. Well, it is St Patrick’s Day.
An undermanned Gold Coast Titans, coached by Neil Henry, show guts to beat Parramatta.
SATURDAY, MARCH 18
My good mate, Greg Grainger’s grandson, Zac, has his first fight in the ring – at Taree – and goes well.
Rock legend, Chuck Berry dies, aged 90. When I hear Chuck’s name, I always think of my former Murwillumbah Brothers’ teammate and neighbor, Peter Gray, who loved ‘Johnny Be Good’, and sang it at every opportunity, with a broom as a guitar.
SUNDAY, MARCH 19
Indigenous rugby league side, Narwan Eels win the Armidale Sevens rugby union competition. Imagine the Sevens side we could pick from league, to go on the professional circuit. They would need training in the intricacies of Sevens, but ‘our’ side would be a class above the current mob.
Jared Dobson, the son of my late mate, Paul Dobson from Dover in Kent, England, runs the Hastings Half Marathon in England. His mum, Maggie, is very proud.
Photo: Bryan Niebling