DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER.
WEEK 14 2018
MONDAY, APRIL 2
In India, our daughter, Melanie’s tour bus has been targeted by an angry mob, as part of caste riots. Bricks and sticks break windows on the bus. Some of the tourists have glass cuts – not our daughter, thankfully. The bus required a police escort to get out of danger. Mel said young students, who came to the ‘rescue’, did not make their intentions clear. Melanie wasn’t sure whether she was being saved, or taken hostage. “It looked as if they (the students) thought we were animals in the zoo, to be photographed,” Melanie said.
Radio 4BC’s Ray Hadley mentions that he was once billeted by a family in Brisbane, during a rugby league schoolboys’ trip, and played at Kedron High, which was a league power house. I played for North Coast Schoolboys against Combined Brisbane at Kedron in 1969, and we blitzed the boys in white, with the red epaulets. The following year I played for North Coast, against Brisbane, at Ballina. Once again we triumphed, and I scored two tries from the centres. Glory Days.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3
Our grandson, Connor, takes his first steps, although he face-plants a few times, as you would expect.
My wife, Marie attends Commonwealth Games rehearsal and says the program is very much slanted towards indigenous culture.
I have afternoon tea with Queensland Rugby League History Committee chairman, Kevin Brasch, who is concerned that Queensland is not getting a fair go, in relation to voting rights for the Hall of Fame and Immortals concepts. Walk past burnt out Brothers’ storage shed on way to our Stafford meeting point. It was (allegedly) torched by vandals.
Former Queensland Rugby League halfback, Brian Bevan, has moved to Ingham (North Queensland) to live. Brian played two games for the Maroons – one against New South Wales in Sydney and the other against Far North Coast (NSW) at Casino. The Maroons traveled to Sydney by train, for the first time in many years, with Casino a major rail centre. New coach, Des Crow asked for the train trip, to facilitate a warm-up game. Far North Coast gave the Maroons a run for their money, with Queensland winning 29-18. In Sydney, Qld lost 30-7 to NSW at the Cricket Ground. Greg Shannon, a member of the Queensland Rugby League History Committee, plans to interview Brian for our audio library. Brian is not to be confused with Australian Team of the Century winger, Brian Bevan, who came from Bondi, and carved out an amazing career in England.
Courier-Mail columnist, Paul Williams describes rugby league as “a mere bloody game”. I would call tiddly winks a “mere bloody game”, but not rugby league. I won’t have that!!
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4
My wife, Marie watches Commonwealth Games’ baton relay, as it travels down Tedder Avenue, Main Beach. Champion sprinter, Raelene Boyle (who lives at Buderim) takes the baton from Anthony Fantini, and Raelene passes it on to Sam McCure. Indigenous protesters block the passage of the relay, as it heads along the ‘The Spit’ at Southport. Later, Marie sees Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Prince Charles and Camilla at the Sheraton Mirage, where she is based. Charles enthusiastically acknowledges ‘The Volunteers”. Other volunteers include Marie O’Flaherty, Marie Rogers and Marie Sardie.
Manager of Sports Services at the Games is Brenton Rickard, a former Olympic swimmer who went to Nudgee College, and was part of the Zillmere/Boondall swimming community, of which our three children, Melanie, Damien and Lliam, were part.
I watch the start of the opening ceremony (on TV) and there is too much indigenous stuff. The ‘Welcome to Country’, from Yugambeh elder, Ted Williams (an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers’ mentor at Beenleigh High) is well done. There are beach scenes (as you would expect from a Gold Coast event), but no life savers wearing speedos. Now, don’t say that could have offended people from some countries. Athletes from all countries, particularly in track and field, wear outfits that leave little to the imagination.
After the dramas of the attack on her bus on Monday, our daughter, Melanie enjoys the safety of Delhi, “a crazy, crumbly old city”, she calls it. Some of her fellow tourists are still nervous and want to go home. “To be honest, it was a bit scary, but it was totally random,” Melanie says. At least 10 lives were lost in the riots, according to CNN.
THURSDAY, APRIL 5
The first live (TV) ‘action’ I see from the Comm Games is lawn bowls – Australia v Tonga. Channel 7 have a separate medal tally for Queensland.
FRIDAY, APRIL 6
Radio 882 is now a sports station (instead of easy listening music), with the likes of David Morrow and Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell, commenting on events.
Our daughter, Melanie enjoys Hong Kong Sevens rugby union from the Marriott box, where she meets Wallaby great, David Campese. It is not the first time. She also met Campese at the launch of the book, ‘My Game Your Game’ at Brisbane’s Hilton Hotel in 1994. in ‘My Game Your Game’, Campese and rugby league great, Mal Meninga cover a wide range of subjects from the two codes. For each topic discussed by Campese, Meninga responded with the league perspective. The book was compiled with the help of prominent journalists, Peter Jenkins (union) and Peter Frilingos (league).
Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull visits the Roosters’ dressing rooms after their 28-10 win over Cronulla at Shark Park. He is about as much a league fan as I am a Dutch astronaut (One of the great sayings of the late Peter Frilingos).
SATURDAY, APRIL 7
My wife sees great English runner, Sebastian Coe at the Gold Coast. He is smaller than she imagined. ‘Seb’ is a member of the British Olympic Association.
The Conaghan Shield (junior rugby league) carnival is held at Murwillumbah. It is named in honor of John Conaghan, the man most responsible for the existence of junior league at Murwillumbah in the 1960s.
Newcastle beat the Broncos 15-10, with Knights’ halfback, Mitchell Perarce in top form. Newcastle’s Kiwi international winger, Shaun Kenny-Dowall knocks-on, but then does not pick up the ball, handing possession to the Broncos. That is a shocking error from a professional, and would not have been tolerated in the Murwillumbah juniors. Kenny-Dowall should have scored a try from a magnificent pass by fullback, Kalyn Ponga, but the touch judge ruled it forward. The late Barry Gomersall had the right idea. He ignored the touch judges, except in the matters of feet into touch or illegalities in back play.
SUNDAY, APRIL 8
Phil Economidis, the ARL’s coach of the year in 1997, is coaching Warwick Cowboys in the Toowoomba League. Phil’s former club, Gold Coast, beat Manly 32-20 at Marley Brown Oval, Gladstone. I covered one match there – in 1997 when Gold Coast Chargers and South Queensland Crushers played a trial. Lock, Jai Arrow is the star for Gold Coast Titans on this occasion. His dad worked on renovations at Queensland Newspapers, Bowen Hills when I was still writing rugby league for ‘The Courier-Mail’. He told me, without boasting, that his son had potential.
Photo 1: Raelene Boyle and a young fan
Photo 2: Commonwealth Games volunteers
Photo 3: Melanie Ricketts and David Campese
Photo 4: Phil Economidis