DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 5 2018
TUESDAY, JANUARY 30
LUNCH at Port Office Hotel with journo mates, among them Bart Sinclair, Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock, Steve Waddingham, Michael Crutcher, Gary Smart, Paul Malone, Bernie Pramberg, Nathan Exelby and Jim Tucker. Bart brings his good mate, Mick Dolan, 81, and he is such a character. Michael Crutcher is on the board of Norths’ Rugby League. I have drinks with Gary Balkin and Glyn May before leaving. Gary was a foundation director of the Brisbane Broncos. Glyn, a noted travel writer, grew up on a dairy farm at Ferny Grove, which is now part of Brisbane suburbia. Pork belly and grilled prawns, from the Port Office kitchen, are excellent
Channel 7 weatherman, Tony Auden, says lecherous, when he meant treacherous.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1
Scottish Cup soccer match between Fraserburgh and Rangers is violent. Rangers win 3-0. Violence in soccer can be so much worse than in league, because it is so pre-meditated.
Men of League charity conducts a ‘Welcome to 2018’ function at Newstead Brewery. As I walk down Caxton Street, Chris ‘Compass’ Kallis yells out. He has one of the great nick names. Chris played for Norths, Souths, Easts and Wests. I played with him at Norths in 1979. His son has been playing lower division soccer in Newcastle, England. At the Men of League function, I chat to the likes of QRL Managing Director; Rob Moore; QRL Major Competitions Manager, David Maiden and his wife, who is a lawyer; former Test prop, David Shillington (MOL State manager) who has been training with Brisbane Brothers, with a view to a possible comeback; Head of Football, Neil Wharton and FoxSports commentator, Ben Ikin. Adjourn to Caxton Pub afterwards for a few ales with former Test centre, Steve Renouf; former Broncos’ football manager, Brian McGrath; ‘Manager to the stars’, Jim Banaghan and Brett ‘Ziggy’ Zegenhagen (Southbank Insurance). Licensee, Ross Farquhar shouts deep fried stuff. MOL magazine reports that members have visited former Sydney Easts’ centre, Doug Ricketson, father of former Test forward, Luke. I didn’t realise Doug coached South Lismore, my father, Jon’s old club, in 1964, and represented New South Wales Country from there.
Former Australian rugby league winger, Les Kiss has left Ulster Rugby, where he was coaching director, by mutual consent. Les, a Bundaberg boy, had been Irish defence coach for seven years. I caught up with Les in Dublin in 2009, when, with my sister, Gay Lynch and her husband, David, we were walking through the grounds of Trinity College, when we were told Les had just conducted a coaching clinic. We contacted Les, and met up with he and his wife and family at nearby pub, O’Donoghues, home of my favorite Irish band, The Dubliners.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2
Learn of the passing of former Daily Mail (England) rugby league writer, Brian Batty, at the age of 87. Brian, based in Manchester, covered a multitude of tours by Great Britain in Australia and New Zealand. The first time I went to England, in 1977-78, on a working holiday, I was encouraged by fellow Brisbane journo, David Falkenmire to look Brian up. I phoned Brian, ahead of the Wales v France Tri-Nations match at Naughton Park, Widnes in January, 1978, and he invited me to the press box. When I saw how well dressed the press corps were, I chickened out, because I was wearing typical back packer clobber. Years later, my wife and I took Brian and his wife for a drive through the Gold Coast hinterland.
Watch Super League tonight, and St Helens’ youngster, Welsh born, Regan Grace looks sharp.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3
Watch some of the Sevens rugby from Hamilton, New Zealand, and there is a Wigan lad in the England team. No. I won’t have that!
Photo 1: Gary Balkin
Photo 2: David and Gay Lynch; Steve Ricketts, Les Kiss and family in Dublin
Photo 3: Brian Batty on the burst in a media touch game at Brisbane Grammar in 1988. That’s Steve Ricketts on the left; British team manager, Les Bettinson and BBC commentator, Ray French
Photo 4: Typical press box 1970s
Photo 5: The media in more recent times – Trad McLean, Steve Ricketts and Pat Welsh, reading. Wayne Heming roaming.