DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 25 2018
MONDAY, JUNE 18
Funeral of noted Queensland Newspapers’ sub editor, Steve ‘Wadders’ Waddingham is held at Wantima Golf Club. There is a large attendance of his former workmates, among them Terry and Kim Sweetman (father and daughter), Bernie Pramberg, Bart Sinclair, Karl deKroo, Jim Tucker, Grantlee Kieza and Warren Nunn as well as golfing mates such as Tony Harris from Boondall. Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock gives an excellent eulogy. Steve, a New Zealander, loved his rugby union, but also had a soft spot for league, in particular the Sydney Roosters. I wore a Roosters scarf to the funeral.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
Noted journo, John Coffey is made a Life Member of New Zealand Rugby League. Well deserved. Originally from the West Coast of the South Island, John worked for ‘The Press’ in Christchurch, and also wrote several books on the 13 man code.
Nudgee College, the alma mater of our two sons, Damien and Lliam, have advertised for a ‘Dean of Identity’, whatever that means. Is it someone who checks student ID’s as they arrive at the college grounds?
THURSDAY, JUNE 21
Sunday-Mail columnist, Peter Cameron phones to pick my brain re the return State of Origin match in Sydney next week.
Learn of the passing of Sir Laurence Street, 91, one of Australia’s great legal figures. He was president of the Rugby League Appeals Committee, and I attended several appeals, which he chaired.
Watch replay of Hull, Easter Rugby League Derby (Hull FC v Hull KR) and then Wigan v St Helens. Great stuff. The fans of these four clubs put Australian fans in the shade, when it comes to their passion and loyalty.
FRIDAY, JUNE 22
Sadly, another funeral. This time for former Murwillumbah Brothers’ teammate, Kevin ‘Porky’ Weaver. It is a traditional Requiem Mass, celebrated by Father Paul McDonald, in the Sacred Heart Church, Murwillumbah, and, although I am what is termed a ‘lapsed Catholic’, it strikes at my soul more than secular services. The Brothers’ boys form a guard of honor outside the church, as the coffin, draped in a Sydney Roosters jersey, is carried to the hearse. Everyone applauds, and then one bloke near me says it is not often anything in a Roosters’ jumper gets applause. ‘Porky’ represented the Tweed/Gold Coast and won a first grade premiership with Brothers in 1969. He and I played together in first grade, from 1971 to early 1975 inclusive, and we featured in the semi-finals in ’71; the grand final in ’73 and a play-off for fifth spot in ’74. When I think of Kevin as a person, I have an image of a kind, gentle man, a devoted Catholic, and a hard worker. He was employed at the Norco factory at South Murwillumbah for many years, and when it closed, he became a groundsman for the Sacred Heart Parish. He was skilful with the ball, and woe betide anyone who was foolish enough to try to run over him, because he was capable of huge hits. In particular, I recall a tackle he made on a Gold Coast Tigers’ forward, at Knox Park, Murwillumbah, in 1968. I can’t remember which Tigers’ forward it was, but I bet he never ran at ‘Porky’ again. The wake is held at Brothers Leagues Club at West Murwillumbah and I catch up with the likes of Kel Sherry, Robin Smith, Gary Ryder, John O’Brien and Kevin’s younger brother, Paul, who was my under-18 skipper in 1969.
SATURDAY, JUNE 23
‘Back to Brothers’ day at Gibson Park, Stafford, is well done, with players from all eras in attendance. In the seniors, Brothers are beaten on the bell by Wests Mitchelton, by a penalty for a ball strip. The under-10s play after the men, and it is great to watch – pure football.
Former Norths’ forward, Ian Watson, a Maori, contacts me. He is writing books about Taranaki and Waitara rugby league, and is seeking photographs of his playing days at the Devils (Norths).
Tonga beat Samoa in rugby league at Campbelltown, and now they want to play Australia. Settle.
Tugun Surf Club hold a fund raiser for former Brisbane Easts, Valleys and Halifax rugby league forward, Bob Arnold, who is doing it tough, in health terms.
SUNDAY, JUNE 24
Get up early to watch England v New Zealand rugby league Test from Denver, Colorado. It is a fast moving affair in hot conditions, and I hope the crowd of 19,320 was entertained. England win 36-18. I don’t think the fans would have liked the national anthems, with the female singer giving embarrassing renditions.
My wife, Marie and I have brunch at the old Raphael’s restaurant, Sandgate, on Brisbane’s northern bayside. Not bad, not great. Former Queensland rugby league forward, Len Dittmar lives nearby, and we run into him as he emerges from the Full Moon pub, where he had enjoyed a coffee. Len says he has Ricketts (family name) in his bloodlines.
New South Wales win origin 18-14 with Blues’ skipper, Boyd Cordner, man of the match. Our daughter, Melanie watches the game in Singapore, where she works, and she is surrounded by Blues fans.
Photo 1: Kevin ‘Porky’ Weaver in action at Murwillumbah Showgrounds in 1972. Jack Nardi is in the background.
Photo 2: Alan Rafton, a Brothers’ star from the 1970s, sidesteps Wests’ Kel Brown.