DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 15 2017
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12
Former Broncos, South Sydney, Roosters and Titans’ forward, Ashley Harrison is guest speaker at our Men of League ‘Kick-Off Club’ lunch at Broncos Leagues Club. I interview Ash, who along with Des Morris, must be one of the best Queensland forwards NOT to have represented his country. My former Murwillumbah Brothers’ teammate, Brian Atherton (chairman of the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales Men of League Committee) is my guest at the Broncos’ lunch. We chat to Arthur Jong, a former Ipswich Bulimba Cup representative player (from the West End club), who has Chinese heritage. His father jumped ship in Victoria. Matt O’Hanlon, principal at Beenleigh High, is in the audience. (Our eldest boy, Damien is a teacher at Beenleigh). In ‘Alfies Bar’, Brian and I are joined by Broncos’ media manager, Trad McLean, whose dad, Mike played against Brian and I in the Group 3 competition, back in the 1970s. Mike, a winger for Manly in the 1968 Sydney grand final, played for Port Macquarie, while Brian and I played for Wingham – at different times. Mike, better known as ‘Dolly’, catches up with former Balmain Test centre, Geoff Starling for a weekly drink. They both live at Tweed Heads. Brian joins Marie and I for dinner at Brothers’ Leagues. We chat to former police officer, Gerry McKendry, who is good mates with Pat McCarthy, who played one game for Queensland – against Great Britain in 1968.
Photo 1: Arthur Jong in his West End jersey.
THURSDAY, APRIL 13
Brian and I walk to Q Roasters, Stafford for coffee beans, the two of us wearing NRL polo shirts. A few people comment, and Brian tells them we are talent scouts. Drive Brian to his daughter, Emma’s house at Margate, Redcliffe. Lunch at Morgan’s Seafood, Scarborough. Brian is about to give our scraps to the Ibis, before I intervene. Nothing against Ibis, but they are not to be encouraged to enter into areas where humans eat. Brian is good mates with former Test centre, Harry ‘Dealer’ Wells. Australian team of the Century hooker, Noel Kelly reckons there was no better player than Wells.
FRIDAY, APRIL 14
Good Friday and our daughter arrives home from Hong Kong, happy to breathe clean air and to be away from the Cantonese accent for a while. She says Hong Kong is ‘good, not fantastic’. Dinner at our youngest son, Lliam’s Paddington residence, before Brisbane Broncos v Gold Coast Titans derby at nearby Suncorp Stadium. Say hello to my former Brisbane Norths’ teammate, Gary Walker and his son, Shane (ex Broncos and South Sydney) in the lift. Shane’s two boys shake my hand. Channel 9 commentator, Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin tells me that recently deceased Great Britain lock, Mick Adams broke his cheekbone in the dying minutes of the Second Test in Brisbane in 1984. Broncos’ media man, Trad McLean makes sure there is fish and chips in the media area, after I remind him it is Good Friday. Titans suffer heart breaking last minute loss.
Learn of the passing of former French rugby league skipper, Francis de Nadai, the father-in-law Gilles Fleuret from the Villefranche de Rouergue club. Broncos’ media man, Trad McLean played there, in the 1990s, and, through him, my wife and I met Gilles during our travels in France a decade ago. de Nadai played 30 Tests for France between 1967 and 1975 and made two tours to Australia – in 1968 and ’75. I saw him play for France in the 1968 World Cup final in Sydney, with Australia winning 20-2.
SATURDAY, APRIL 15
A young bloke in a ute throws rubbish out the window as he drives up Uxbridge Street, Grange. Family night at our youngest boy, Lliam’s place, Paddington. My youngest brother, Stewart says a mosque is mooted for the area where he lives, on the south side of Brisbane. The most ardent objectors are people from the Chinese community.
Carcassonne defeat Lezignan 30-24 in the final of France’s Lord Derby Cup (knock-out competition), played at a neutral venue in Avignon.
SUNDAY, APRIL 16
A minutes silence is observed before the Easts v Wynnum Intrust Super Cup match at Langlands Park, in honor of former Easts’ selector, John Sheppard. Former Test hooker, Steve ‘Boxhead’ Walters is sideline eye for Channel 9. Zac Teevan, son of former Queensland State of Origin utility, Craig Teevan, plays for Easts’ Mal Meninga Cup (under-18) side. Zac played rugby union at Ipswich Grammar. Channel 7 have a Flashback to Easter, 1979 and Pat Welsh is seen interviewing drinkers at Wests Leagues Club, Bardon about the introduction of light beer. Some of the responses are hilarious.
Photo 1: Francis de Nadai in a World Cup match against Great Britain at Grenoble in 1972. Welshman, Colin Dixon is also in the picture.