Former Australian skipper, Laurie Daley has revealed that Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns was his funniest ‘roomie’, while on tour, although Joey’s bathroom habits left a lot to be desired.
Daley also described another ‘roomie’, Canberra teammate, Ricky Stuart, as not the tidiest person in the world, but great company.
Laurie embraced the ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ line when asked to elaborate, during a stint as a ‘Big Sports Breakfast’ presenter on radio 2KY on June 19, 2019.
He and Ricky were ‘roomies’ on the 1990 Kangaroo tour, when Mal Meninga was skipper and had a room to himself.
I had just finished reading ‘In Defence The Wally O’Connell Story’, when I heard Laurie and 2KY host, Terry Kennedy talking about tours.
Wally, played 10 Tests for Australia between 1948 and 1951 and toured Britain and France with the 1948-49 Kangaroos.
He was frank in recounting some of the events of that tour, when writing the autobiography, which was released in 2005.
O’Connell, who coached Queensland in 1972, said some teammates fell out over pranks, and money matters, but, in the long run, they all finished up great mates.
The team managers were Bill Buckley (New South Wales) and Eric Simmonds (Queensland), and Buckley was strict about ensuring the players were on time for their bus trips.
But on the odd occasion, someone would miss it. This happened one day to the baby of the tour, 18-year-old, Bob Dimond, and another player, at Leeds. The team was based 34 km away in the town of Ilkley.
O’Connell takes up the story.
“Bob said they would have to get a taxi. The other player (who O’Connell never names) said ‘no way! I’m going to hitch hike’. Bob said: ‘It’s nearly mid-night, you won’t get anyone at this time. I’m getting a taxi.’
Bob went down the main street, and got into a taxi bound for Ilkley. About 50 metres down the street, the driver said: ‘Look at this silly bugger.”. It was Bob’s teammate in the middle of the street, waving. His mate poked his head through the window and asked if Bob could give him a lift, since Bob was going his way.
“Bob copped it sweet, but brought the matter up at our weekly meeting. The fare came to 25 shillings, and the meeting voted that Bob’s teammate should pay half. The teammate reluctantly agreed, but asked Bob if he could pay him off at sixpence a week, since he was saving up to get married. We still don’t know whether Bob got it all back.”
When O’Connell took on the Queensland coaching role in 1972, at the invitation of Qld chairman, Ron McAuliffe, it was on the proviso that he be allowed to introduce a coaching certificate scheme, with a series of seminars to be held throughout the state.
These seminars took-in places such as Mareeba (contacts Len Tobin and Clem Channells), Ingham (Aldo Morretto, Roger Liddle), Townsville (Jim Paterson), Ayr (Ben Bloom, John McKinley, the latter a crop dusting pilot).
Queensland Test hooker, John Lang said he only played under O’Connell for three games – against New South Wales – with the Blues winning all three.
“While it didn’t work out for the team, I realised Wally had a different way of looking at the game – even now I’ve got clear memories of the things we worked on, and it gave me a different perspective of the game,” Lang said.
Photo: The Kangaroos’ team bus 1948.