DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 49 2017
MONDAY, DECEMBER 4
BRIBIE Island is the destination today as we entertain our English guests, Terry and Joyce Holmes. Coffee at Woorim Beach and then lunch at amazing Sandstone Point pub (back on the mainland), where we share seafood platters. ‘Didn’t we have a lovely day, the day we went to Bribie’. Remember that song, a parody of ‘Didn’t we have a lovely day, the day we went to Bangor’, from ‘Waynee Poo’ Roberts? I thought not. Later in the day I take Terry to the Stafford Tavern to catch up with my drinking mates. Former Australian forward, Trevor Gillmeister says hello, as he has a quick punt. Terry tells me of the passing one one of his friends from Villeneuve-sur-Lot in France, Damian, a lovely chap whose company we enjoyed during our stays in that beautiful region. Terry also tells me that former French rugby league prop, Max Chantal is battling health issues. I interviewed Chantal during France’s 1981 tour of Australia. He played 27 Tests for France between 1977 and 1986, touring here in ’77 as well as ’81.
Learn today of the passing of former New South Wales rugby league representative, Bob Honeysett, who played for South Sydney and North Sydney. He represented his state four times – in 1956, ’59 and ’62. He is believed to be the first indigenous man to captain his state, not Ron Saddler as most historians, me included, believed.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5
Terry and Joyce Holmes return to England today. After taking them to the airport, I see former Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie walking in one of the streets near our residence at Grange.
Rugby League Immortal, Wally Lewis heads to England today as well, to fulfill a guest speaking role (A Christmas Audience with the King) at Ossett Town Hall in Yorkshire. Ossett is a market town in the district of Wakefield. Wally had a highly publicised short playing stint with Wakefield Trinity in 1983-84, when the club was coached by former British Test forward, Derek ‘Rocky’ Turner. Trinity still play out of the antiquated Belle Vue ground, where Wally weaved his magic.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6
Interview former Queensland State of Origin player, Chris Walker and former South Sydney forward, David Tyrrell at Men of League lunch at Broncos Leagues Club. At my table are the likes of Broncos CEO, Paul White; Broncos’ media man, Trad McLean and former Brisbane representative fullback, Scott Czislowski (now a Broncos’ staffer). One of the tables is dominated by blokes with a Rockhampton background, including former top Brisbane club footballer, Russell Denman. There is also an Ipswich table. Also at the lunch are the likes of former Queensland State of Origin hooker, Matt Ballin and 1963-64 Kangaroo tourist, John Cleary. Australia wrap up Second Cricket Test against the Poms, in Adelaide, as I drive home, to go 2-0 up in the five Test series.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8
Murray Spiers, the president of the Brisbane chapter of the (Carlton) Beer and Beef club, drops off several items at our place, including a Brisbane Wests Leagues Club debenture certificate, for the QRL Historical Display. Murray, who played league for Gatton and Aussie rules for Wests, says his dad, Robert was a massive Wests’ league fan. Murray recalls champagne breakfasts at Wests Leagues, Purtell Park, Bardon, and a regular at the club being prominent television newsreader, Don Seccombe, who liked a touch of milk with his chosen tipple.
On my way home from the pub, English neighbor, Kristina grabs me for a chat. When the topic gets to rugby league, as it invariably does, she decribes it as ‘a northern game’ – as in North of England – almost as if that downgrades it in status. She is an Essex girl.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9
Christmas Party for Marie’s Playgroup ladies (and their partners). Di Pagano says she and her husband, Rocky, enjoyed their recent ocean cruise, but there wasn’t enough rock ‘n roll.
North Queensland Cowboys’ former Test halfback, Johnathan Thurston wins a Human Rights Medal.
There is an item in a local paper about former Queensland cricketer, Keith Dudgeon and his son, Michael. My wife, Marie made many visits to Keith’s store to buy cricket gear for our eldest boy, Damien, who was/is a good opening batsman.
Marie learns of the passing of Olive Legge, 96, one of her neighbors from her days living at Bangalow. Dudley, her husband, pre-deceased her. Marie particularly remembers the Legge’s having a pianola in their house.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10
Marie and I leave for Tenterfield , stopping at Warwick for lunch at the carvery in the ‘Rose Centre’. Next stop, Symphony Winery in the Granite Belt, where Marie does tasting, courtesy of owner, Ewan. Book into the Commercial Hotel, Tenterfield, where we dine. Local steak with Kurrajong Merlot, after enjoying a Deepwater Pale Ale. Choose a Granite Belt Lager as the cleansing ale.
Our daughter, Melanie has arrived in Australia from Hong Kong, where she works, and her first stop is Dunsborough in the Margaret River area of Western Australia. Our granddaughter, Parker, loves custard. “Her version of wine,” says her father, Damien.
Photo 1: Max Chantal (left); hooker, Christian Macalli and Didier Hermet, all from Villeneuve-sur-Lot, on France’s 1981 tour of Australia.
Photo 2: Marie Ricketts at the Commercial Hotel, Tenterfield
Photo 3: Belle Vue, home of Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Club (photo, Andrew Varley).