DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 52 2017
MONDAY, DECEMBER 25
Small congregation at Christmas Day Mass at St Columba’s Wilston. Marie and I have lunch at Sprout Restaurant, Auchenflower, with our daughter, Melanie; youngest son, Lliam; his wife, Channelle and boys, Ethan and Connor, as well as my sister, Gay Lynch; her husband, David and children, Eliza and Patrick. Nice, not great (the food). Eldest boy, Damien; his wife, Emma and daughter, Parker, have Christmas in Townsville. My brother, Andrew phones from Vietnam, where he is enjoying festivities at a Pullman Hotel, with ex Queensland police officer, Jim Brown.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26
Australian cricketers wear black arm bands in the Boxing Day Test, as a mark of respect following the passing of wicket keeper, Tim Paine’s father-in-law. David Warner gets a century.
Laurie Parker, from Charleville, tells me he has bought a copy of ‘Maroon Memories’, a book I put together, on behalf of the Queensland Rugby League, in the game’s Centenary Year, 2008. It was meant to be a compilation of yarns, sent in by league people from all over Queensland. But the response was underwhelming, and I had to contribute around 70 percent of the items. For instance, at a Cowboys’ match in Townsville, I interviewed Wally Shibasaki, from Thursday Island, about footy in the Torres Strait. I also wrote about one of league’s great characters, Kel O’Shea from Ayr, who played 20 Tests for Australia. There were some great contributors – David Roach from Mundubbera, for instance, who wrote about the Moscrip Trophy, in particular the 1968 final between Longreach and Barcaldine, at Barcaldine, when Mick Tanks scored the winning try for Longreach. David’s story was as much about the post game celebrations, at the Shakespeare and Commercial Hotels, and the the subsequent trip home, as it was about the game.
FoxSports show a replay of Michael Bevan’s famous boundary, to win a one day match against the West Indies in Sydney on New Year’s Day, 1996. Marie and I and the kids were holidaying at Ballina at the time, and the whole camping ground was watching it, on someone’s TV. What a finish! Rick Stein show on pay television, features a visit to Bar Felix in Carcassonne, a real rugby league haunt. I have been there several times.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28
Rodney Marsh and Doug Walters are interviewed about the Centenary Test. I interviewed Rodney on one occasion, at the Gabba, and he was ‘grumpy’, and not up for a chat. I have met Doug, in the Rose and Crown Pub, Parramatta, and he was a gentleman. I had the honor of seeing Doug score his maiden Test century, in his debut against England – at the Gabba in 1965. Broncos’ coach, Wayne Bennett speaks out about the Immortals, making the point that players from ‘way back’, should be considered, using as an example, Norm Provan.
Our grand daughter, Parker, is two today.
There is a packed house at Twickenham for Harlequins v Northhampton Rugby. For a time, the London Broncos Rugby League Club played as part of the Harlequins brand and shared the Stoop Memorial Ground at Twickenham. The ground is named after Adrian Stoop, a former Oxford boy, who developed an attacking form of rugby at Harlequins (back in the early 1900s) which made the club quite fashionable. Northampton (the Saints) stunned Wigan rugby league fans in 2007, when they signed Chris Ashton who was being groomed as the next England rugby league fullback. Ashton went on to play 44 times for England’s rugby union side.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30
Our daughter, Melanie flies back to Hong Kong. Marie and I have breakfast at Journey on Racecourse Road, Ascot. Nearby, there is a sign indicating a $500 penalty if cars have to be towed for illegal parking. I read ‘The Australian’ newspaper’s article about Sudanese gangs in Victoria. If you are to believe the Victorian Government, there is not a problem.
Melanie reports that her plane was full, and that Cairns International Airport is ‘awful’
My former Telegraph deputy sports editor, Terry Shaw emails, wanting a Bulimba Cup book for his daughter’s father-in-law. Terry says his time at the Telegraph, (the paper closed on February 5, 1988), was the best time of his working life. It was mine, as well.
There is an old Easts v Wests (Sydney) rugby league match on FoxSports, featuring the likes of Ross Conlon, Warren Boland and Terry Lamb (Wests) and Noel Cleal, Kevin Hastings and Jeff Masterman (Easts). Ross Conlon was a neighbour of mine at Bray Park, Murwillumbah, and his dad, Ted, a tough front rower in his playing days, a workmate of mine at the Tweed Daily News.
Bernie Pramberg’s final ‘For the Love of the Game’ column appears in The Courier-Mail today. Bernie wants to spend more on his property in the bush. His column will be sorely missed.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31
I am ‘Linked-In’ with former South Queensland Crushers’ rugby league player, Nathan Turner, who is now a lawyer. Nathan was an ‘Emerging Wallaby’ rugby union player when he switched codes. Watch the ABC’s New Year’s Eve coverage, and Charlie Pickering puts his foot in it when he says it is the only time it is OK to kill a policeman. Evidently he meant ‘kiss’ a policeman. Well, I should hope that’s what he meant. It was a mistake that was hard to comprehend. As usual, the New Year’s fireworks from Sydney Harbour, are amazing. As usual, the ABC hosts are average. The commercial networks do it a lot better.
Photo 1: Kel O’Shea (left) and Australian teammate, Alex Watson
Photo 1: Norm Provan comes over the top in a tackle on France’s Marcel Bescos in Sydney in 1960. Ron Boden is the Australian going low, in a match won 7-5 by the tourists;
Photo 3: Harlequins Rugby
Photo 4: Nathan Turner