DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 4 2018
MONDAY, JANUARY 22
Kerry McGreedy and his wife, Roseanne have donated South Queensland Crushers’ magazines to the QRL History Committee. Roseanne is the sister of former prominent rugby league player and coach, Will Cordwell. The first magazine I opened, featured an editorial by Brian Murphy, highlighting the signing of rugby union star, Garrick Morgan; Broncos’ utility, Chris McKenna, and the appointment of Bob Lindner as coach. On the Leagues Club front, the new manager was Graham Kong.
Former Rockhampton ‘lad’, Gerry McKendry tells me Rockhampton Brothers has shut. I remember dragging Broncos’ chief executive, Paul White’s dad to the phone from the bar at Rocky Brothers, for comment, after his son was appointed. Barmaid at Stafford Tavern has tattoos down the back of her legs. One of the regulars says it looks as if she has sat on a newspaper.
Former Australian rugby league lock, Peter Diversi has passed away. Originally from Bega on the New South Wales South Coast, he was a captain-coach at Gundagai and Kurri Kurri, as well as playing with North Sydney and Manly. Peter was the uncle of dual international, Ray Price. The last of Diversi’s five Tests was the First Test of the 1955 series against France, at the SCG, with Australia winning 20-8. France went on to win the series.
Radio TAB’s John McCoy tells a few stories about former Australian skipper, Graeme Langlands, who died last week. Here is one. Former Australian halfback, Barry Muir is famous for firing back at detractors with: ‘How many Tests did you play?’ (Barry played 25). At one particular function, a crowded affair, in a big hall, a voice from the back of the room chipped Barry about something or other he had said from the stage, and Barry retorted: “How many Tests did you play?” The voice fired back: “45. 20 more than you”. It was ‘Chang’ Langlands.
I am Linked-in with former Courier-Mail colleague, Patrick Lion, who is night editor at the Daily Mirror in England. He also has worked as a barman at The Chelsea Ram.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 23
A father and son kick and pass a Sherrin Aussie rules ball as they walk past our place. Wrong code, but nice to see. I would take our two sons, Damien and Lliam, to the park across the road from our place, and pass the Steeden. I never could get the hang of the spiral pass.
Dinner tonight with my wife, Marie’s brother, John Donnelly and his wife, Jan, who are in Brisbane. We chat to former Many hooker, Matt Ballin in King George Square.
Finish reading Ian Heads’ excellent book ‘The Night The Music Died’. The book revolves around Western Division’s amazing triumph in the inaugural Amco Cup knock-out competition in 1974, when they defeated Penrith in the final. I remember watching Western Division’s games on Channel 0, with my Brothers’ teammates at Murwillumbah, all of us cheering on the bush boys against the might of the Sydney clubs. I played against Western Division’s Peter Walkom, when he played for Taree, and I played for Wingham. Peter died in 2002, aged just 50.
There was a packed house on grand final night, 1974, the crowd surprising the likes of league bosses, Ken Arthurson and Bob Abbott who had a quiet meal at Balmain Leagues Club before the match, thinking it would be a five minute drive to the ground. The congested roads meant they needed a police escort to make it on time for pre-match formalities.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24
Interview former Otahuhu, Brisbane Norths’ and Auckland representative prop, Stan Napa for Men of League magazine. Stan, whose son, Dylan plays for Sydney Roosters, recalls a huge tackle my former Courier-Mail colleague, Dennis Watt made on Wynnum-Manly cult hero, Ray ‘Tank’ Duncan in a Brisbane first grade match, when Dennis played for Norths. I used to pump iron with Stan at Lane’s Gym, Chermside.
Mark Waugh mentions rugby league during Channel 7’s coverage of the Big Bash cricket. Hooray. I thought Aussie rules was the only footy played in Australia, going on the usual winter sport banter from the cricket commentators. The fielding in the Big Bash this summer is way below par. One commentator says there are a lot of boy and girl cricketers watching. What about just saying, ‘a lot of young cricketers’. I think that would cover it.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 26
My wife, Marie makes damper for Australia Day. I watch citizenship ceremony from Canberra, and it is quite moving. There is a lovely rendition of the national anthem by Lucy Sugerman and six females in school uniform. Ray Hadley interviews former Parramatta and Australian Test rugby league winger, Neville Glover, who was recognised in the Australia Day honors.
A group of cyclists go past our place, wearing flags, floral shirts, garbage bags and what ever, and yahooing.
In Tipperary, Ireland, the kids at Upperchurch Catholic School have Australia Day celebrations – Tim Tams, the lot – given one of the teacher’s aides is Kellie Kelly, my wife’s Australian niece.
Former Brothers, Norths and Wynnum-Manly forward, John Alroe turns 60.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 27
England rugby union player, Ben Te’o has been in Brisbane, training with Broncos’ staff members. He is a former Bronco. The obituary I wrote on former France rugby union and rugby league skipper, Jean Barthe, is on the French Rugby League Twitter account, or so I am told.
Lliam’s mate, Dan Edwards runs into rugby league legend, Tom Raudonikis at a Dan Murphy’s liquor outlet on the Gold Coast. “He is such a good bloke, for a cockroach,” says Dan.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 28
New Optus Stadium in Perth opens with England beating Australia in a one day cricket match. I see a Brighouse flag in the stands. Brighouse is a town near Halifax, and boasts an amateur rugby league club, Brighouse Rangers.
Photo 1: Crushers’ mag. Bob Lindner (left) and Mario Fenech.
Photo 2: Tom Raudonikis in action for Sydney Wests.