DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 48 2017
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28
English couple, Terry and Joyce Holmes are our guests on a country drive. Terry is a contributor to Rugby League Unlimited and other league publications, and he and Joyce are here for the World Cup, with England to play Australia in Saturday’s final at Suncorp Stadium. Morning tea stop at ‘Two Girls’, Marburg, where the cake gets the thumbs up, but not so much the coffee. After a drive around Toowoomba, we have lunch at the rural Rudd’s pub, Nobby – rissoles and veg for all of us, except Marie, who has lamb/fetta sausages. The servings are huge. The staff lack personality, which is disappointing in a country pub, particularly when you have Pom guests. Drive back via Ma Ma Creek and Gatton (where the potato harvest is in full swing) and the Marburg Pub where Glen Macdermott shouts me a couple of beers. Glen, a barman at the pub, featured in an article I wrote for Men of League magazine. He was one of 10 paying guests at a boardroom lunch at Queensland Rugby League headquarters, where the special guest was super coach, Phil ‘Gus’ Gould. Macdermott, who is also a trained nurse, almost gave up on bidding at the Dutch auction at the Men of League state dinner, but those at his table threw in extra money to keep him in the game. Glen said he was in awe of what Gus had to say, and the whole experience was an inspiration.
Among those drinking in the Marburg public bar is a relative of legendary Ipswich soccer player, ‘Bunny’ Nunn and a local developer, who played cricket with league legend, Allan ‘Alfie’ Langer.
Controversial England cricketer, Ben Stokes has joined the Pom side on tour in New Zealand. Ben’s father, Gerard, toured Australia with the 1982 Kiwi rugby league side, chosen from the Canterbury province.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29
There is some sort of drama surrounding the Golden Boot Awards, which are held at Suncorp Stadium. Something to do with who was invited and who wasn’t, or maybe, who was invited to be on the judging panel. Former Great Britain skipper, Brian Noble, who does media work, boycotts the event, while the BBC’s Dave Woods turns up for the post function interviews, wearing shorts and t-shirt, as a form of protest. Australian skipper, Cameron Smith wins the award.
Australian Sevens rugby people rave about the skills of former South Sydney league player, Maurice Longbottom. Maurice is a good player, but there are many more just as good, if not better, in the league grades.
At the Gold Coast Turf Club, there is a race named in honor of Channel 7’s Pat Welsh, who has turned 60.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30
Lovely lunch with Terry and Joyce Holmes at Customs House in the city. Our waiter is from St Etienne in France, and our waitress is Japanese. A New England Pale Ale at the Gresham is the perfect after lunch cleansing ale. Other beers on tap include Butcher’s Pride Pale and Green King IPA. Later, we attend a World Cup promotion in King George Square, catching up with Wigan chairman, Ian Lenagan; former Warrington, Salford, Bradford and Melbourne Storm forward, Ian Sibbett; English five eighth, George Williams’ father and a player agent, as well as the television crew from BeIn Sport, France. French club, Palau Broncos attended Brisbane Broncos training this week, and were looked after by Brisbane’s Test forward, Sam Thaiday.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1
Breakfast with former English Rugby League CEO, David Howes at South Bank. David, who now lives at Windsor in Berkshire, has a supporters’
tour here for the World Cup. We were going to be joined by former Australian coach, Frank Stanton, but he was a late scratching because of health issues. David, now 66, says this will be his last supporters’ tour. He has 140 in his party, including 40 from Cumbria, one of them an official of the Whitehaven club.
At our History Committee’s display at Rugby League Central, there have been a few visitors during the World Cup, including a group from St Helens in England. Fellow History Committee member, Paul Hayes, has done a great job as a guide, taking time off work to volunteer his services. When I make a visit today, Glenda Tanna from Urban Indigenous Health, and a polite youngster, Eli, who plays for Norths Aspley, are looking through the display area. The coach carrying the English players arrives at Suncorp Stadium – for training – as we chat, and the media group waiting for them, includes Brian Noble and Chris Garry.
Valleys’ rugby league raffle seller at Stafford Tavern is Almon Gadd, 63, who still referees junior matches. Bothers’ official, Tony Martyn sings the praises of former Queensland centre, Brad Kennedy, a former student of Miami High on the Gold Coast, who was chosen for Queensland from Gympie. Evidently former Test forward, Mark Hohn has the commercial cleaning contract at the tavern. When I mention, to our group, that my wife loves rabbit, Peter Skerman says he would get free rabbits from locals when he was captain-coach of the Texas rugby league side in the early 1970s.
I have had 103 visitors to my website today, a record. Thanks everyone.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2
I wrote a letter to The Courier-mail about rugby league in France, but it did not get published. Such is life. The little girls next door sing ‘Silent Night’.
Drinks at Lefties in Caxton Street, with out friends from Taree, Brian and Carole Atherton, before attending the World Cup final. Brian, a former Widnes’ player, is here to support England (of course). Carole is Australian.
Australia win the World Cup final 6-0, but I thought England were unlucky. Boyd Cordner scores the only try and is man of the match. Former Australian skipper, Gorden Tallis is in the stands, with his kids. The crowd is 40,033. My first World Cup final was Australia v France in 1968. Australia 20-2. Crowd 54,290 at the SCG. My brother, Andrew watches the Brisbane match, on television, in Vietnam, alongside Victoria Cross recipient, Keith Payne, from Mackay, a league man.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3
Fish and chips on the waterfront at Manly, with Joyce and Terry Holmes, followed by drinks at the Waterloo Hotel, where I bump into former work colleague, Dennis Watt, who recently stepped down as chairman of the Brisbane Broncos. The Watt family are having a reunion. Dennis said the Broncos’ job took quite a toll on him.
England cricketers wear black arm bands as a mark of respect, following the passing of 79 Test veteran, graceful batsman, Tom Graveney.
The Queensland Origin side has a get-together on Moreton Island and Josh McGuire wins the Ron McAuliffe Medal, as Maroons’ player of the series.
Photo 1: Terry and Joyce Holmes outside the Marburg Pub
Photo 2: World Cup final 2017
Photo 3: Tom Graveney batting against the West Indies at Trent Bridge in 1966.