DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 36 2017
Noted sports journalist, Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock, on radio TAB, says Ubet have a market on who will be last to leave on closing night at Brothers’ Leagues, Grange. I am $1.25 in the (fictitious) market. Crash says Peter Nevill is the best ‘gloveman’ in the country.
Hear of the passing of former Murwillumbah schoolmate, Terry ‘Keg’ Read. He was a great speedway fan.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6
My wife, Marie presents me with the Billy Slater biography for my 65th birthday, as well as clothes. Meet author, Joe Gorman at Brothers Leagues, to discuss his proposed Queensland Rugby League book. Dinner tonight at Vietnamese Restaurant, after attending chiropractor, Sandy Clarke’s lecture about healthy living.
Radio TAB announcer, John McCoy attends ‘old radio guys’ lunch at Pineapple Hotel,.
Gold Coast School, Keebra Park High win national final of GIO Cup, beating Sydney’s Westfield Sports 25-12 in the final at Leichhardt Oval. David Fifita captains Keebra, and looks an amazing prospect. He wins the Peter Sterling Medal as player of the match.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
Lunch at Il Centro – sand crab lasagne, of course (their signature dish). The restaurant changed hands last month. Our French waiter hails from Haute-Savoie. He and his lady have just clinched a deal for a property at Landsborough. She has family at Caloundra.
At Brothers’ Leagues, noted punter, Wayne Mitchell backs the winner in the last race at Rockhampton. It paid $34 and he had $75 on it. He shouts the bar. There are a few people in the bar, including a group from Banyo, who are saying their farewells to the club.
Learn of the death of top journalist, Peter Luck, 73, after a battle with cancer and Parkinson’s. I have a copy of his book ‘This Fabulous Century’.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
I am guest speaker at Booval Swifts Sport Club, Ipswich, with former Ipswich representative rugby league player, Rex Jorgensen the MC of what is an Ipswich Old Boys’ gathering, with Brothers’ 1967 premiership side honored, along with their vanquished opposition, Booval Swifts. I catch up with Stu Pankoff, a grand old man who played for Ipswich against Great Britain in 1950, and for Ipswich against the American All Stars in 1953. He was great mates with Norma Flannery, the wife of Ipswich and Australian winger, Denis Flannery. Norma, who I had the pleasure of meeting on one occasion, died on January 13, 2015. Her dad was Dan Dempsey, an iron man forward who played seven Tests for Australia between 1928 and 1933.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
Brothers’ reunion at Brothers’ Leagues Club, which closes for good next week. It is an emotional night. The first bloke I chat to is Brothers’ 1987 premiership centre, Jeff Burns, who started work two weeks ago for a mobile scooter firm. The manufacturing business where he previously worked, has been wound up. Another former Brothers’ centre, Rob Grogan tells me of the ‘wild’ Russell brothers from Beenleigh, who played for Nerang when he was there. Ross Strudwick, coach of the ’87 side, steals the show with a stirring speech. It was great to catch up with some of my former teammates, among them Clem Hovi, Murray Schultz, Wayne (WOK) O’Keefe, Mark Thomas, Mark Daunt, Paddy Hannan, Allan Power, Ian Dauth, Bob Cox, John Short, Noel Russell, Paul Dunning, Rod Gillis and English born, Clive Cadman. Mark Thomas played for Australia in 1977, the year after he played centre in reserve grade, outside me. (I was a slow five eighth). Bob Cox (his surname was Cock back in those days) was talented enough to play for Australia, but told me he wasn’t dedicated enough.
Beenleigh beat Brothers 18-10 in a southside v northside Second Division premiers’ challenge match.
In England, quirky cricket commentator, Henry Blofield retires and is afforded a lap of honor at Lords. I say old chap, what a thrill.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
Back to Brothers Leagues where manager, Hugo says a few paintings (of players) went missing last night! No. I show Rockhampton ‘boy’, Gerry McKendry, a photograph taken at Archer Hotel in Rockhampton, when Brisbane Brothers’ stalwart, Frank Melit was publican. We reckon we can see prominent future coaches, Anthony ‘Hook’ Griffin and Ross O’Reilly in the pic., both young bucks at the time.
Death of Francis Atencio, the Pinocchio animator. Still one of my favorite feature length animations, and. I’m sure, would still delight kids today.
Photo 1: Ross Strudwick holds court at Brothers’ reunion
Photo 2: Paddy Hannan, Mark Thomas, Noel Russell and Greg Keane at Brothers’ reunion, with a painting of Wayne Bennett in the background
Photo 3: Celebrations at the Archer Hotel, Rockhampton. That’s publican Frank Melit with the jug, with (I think) Ross O’Reilly (third from left, partly obscured), while Anthony Griffin (I think) is second from right. Do you recognise anyone?