Whenever I see a dachshund, and they are back in fashion, the nightmares return.
It was 1972, and I had arrived at my uncle, Bill Ricketts’ Kingaroy residence to stay for a few days.
As I unpacked my snazzy Valiant Galant, I left a back door open, and one of Bill’s two ‘sausage dogs’ – I can’t remember whether it was Rommel or Schultz – jumped in the back. No-one saw him enter and no-one seemed to notice he was missing.
The next morning, there was a call for Schultz, or was it Rommel – and the sound of barking came from my car.
The only thing which saved the dog’s life was the fact I had left one window partially open, which meant he had some fresh air on a hot February night.
But what a time the dog had, chewing my upholstery, the steering wheel, dashboard and gear stick, as well as going to the toilet.
For months afterwards, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get rid of the smell. I would take a girl to the drive-in and she would ask about my dubious choice of after shave. Old Spice it wasn’t.
The disaster of the dachshund didn’t deter me from making the most of my time in Kingaroy, famous for peanuts; right wing politician, Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the fact West Indian cricketer, Wes Hall once threw a cricket ball over one of the town’s peanut silos.
Bill, who was a police officer, took me to the local newspaper, The South Burnett Times, for a tour, given I was a young journalist at The Daily News, Murwillumbah. It was at that time, I first met Dennis Watt, like me a budding journo. Our paths would cross many times in future years.
I also trained with the Kingaroy Red Ants rugby league club, given I was missing Murwillumbah Brothers’ pre-season regime ahead of the Group 18-Gold Coast season, and I had promised our captain-coach, Jack Nardi I would keep fit.
The Reds Ants’ star that year was halfback, Noel Leisegang. Dennis Watt was a rising star and would go on to represent Wide Bay, as well as playing first grade for Norths in Brisbane. Later he would become chairman of the Brisbane Broncos, and then chairman of the Gold Coast Titans.
Another youngster coming through the ranks, at Kingaroy, was Dennis Moore, who I would go on to play alongside at Brisbane Brothers and Brisbane Norths. And he would go on to become an assistant coach to Des Hasler at Manly-Warringah. Current Stadiums Queensland media guru, Greg Adermann was a Red Ants’ junior, and was coached by Dennis Moore.
After training, the players adjourned to a local park, on top of a hill, (Hospital Hill, I think) for a few tinnies and a game of touch. At mid-night, as I dashed down the fence line, with football in hand, the town lights went out. Evidently that’s what happened at Kingaroy ‘back in the day’ – lights out at mid-night. They probably did it to ensure the footballers went home.
Photo: Bill Ricketts (left) at my parents’ (Jon and Lola Ricketts, nee Kelly) wedding in 1951.