DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 40 2018
MONDAY, OCTOBER 1
The Tweed Daily News is 130 years old. I started my journalistic career at the paper on January 17, 1971 and remained there until March, 1975. The first story I wrote was about a fund raiser for former Tweed Heads Seagulls’ forward, Morrie Morgan, who had died in an accident in the Riverina region, ahead of taking on captain-coach role. My first editor was Joe Watt and chief sub-editor, Jack Kay.
Learn of the passing of former television personality, Ron Casey, a controversial commentator, first on sport and later on wider issues. The first time I saw him on ‘the box’ was 1968, when I was billeted by a family at Gosford, when I played in the New South Wales under-9 stone rugby league titles.
Former Canterbury Bulldogs media officer, Ross Smart is now commercial officer at Newcastle Knights.
Catalans Dragons league player, Fouad Yaha, has signed with Agen Rugby Union. My friends at Villeneuve-sur-Lot, a rugby league town near Agen, will not be pleased as they ‘hate’ Agen Rugby. Yaha is an Avignon league product.
Drinks at Pig and Whistle, South Brisbane with my sister, Gay and her husband, David Lynch; their son, Patrick and my brother, Andrew. Barman calls me ‘Man’. I hate that. My nephew, Kieran Ricketts has got stuck into the tabloid Gold Coast Bulletin on his ‘Rattling Cage’ Facebook page. Our cabbie home, from Nepal loves to impersonate accents. He is hilarious.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2
Greg Inglis has been stripped of the Australian Rugby League captaincy, after being booked for drink driving. News also breaks that the NRL Footy Show has been axed. I made one appearance on the show, back in 2012, alongside Ray Hadley and Gorden Tallis. Finished up at Star City Casino with Gordie and Ryan Phelan.
Letter writer to The Courier-Mail refers to Jim Mills as a former Welsh union international. Jim in fact switched from union to League – from Cardiff – without having represented his country in the 15 man code. He went on to play six Tests for Great Britain and 15 times for Wales in the 13 man code. There is no doubt Jim would have played union for Wales if he had remained at Cardiff.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs flag is flying outside a house in Lamington Street, Grange.
There is a strange bloke on the Kedron Brook path, wearing heavy clothing, including a balaclava.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3
Former Test cricketer, Tony Dell is interviewed by Alan Jones, on his radio show, about PTSD. I had dealings with Tony when he and former rugby union star, Lloyd Graham were publishers of the Brisbane Rugby League program, and I was a contributor. Graham was one of the stars of Queensland’s win over the touring British Lions in 1971.
An old dear rings Alan and makes the point that the rugby league players on the podium after the grand final, could not speak the “Kings English”. It can be embarrassing at times, hearing the English language being mangled by sports stars in general.
The Prime Minister’s XIII trains at rugby union stronghold, Nudgee college ahead of their match against a PNG PM’s XIII. In 1981, my first year as a full-time league writer, I covered the Papua New Guinea Presidents side’s training run at another union stronghold, Ashgrove College.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4
Redcliffe rugby league greats, Wally Fullerton-Smith, Bob Jones and Shane Perry are guest speakers at Men of League lunch at Club Pine Rivers. Former Test halfback, Greg Oliphant is a late withdrawal. Bob tells me he has not drunk alcohol since 1985. Originally from Gunnedah, he was set to join Surfers Paradise Pirates, before being lured to Redcliffe.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5
St Helens’ Australian star, Ben Barba is in tears after his club’s 18-13 loss to Warrington in a Super League grand final qualifier. Saints fans still sing ‘When the Saints Come Marching In”.
At Stafford Tavern, Brothers Junior Rugby League stalwart, Bob Donaldson tells me of the courage of former Australian five eighth, Johnny Gleeson in the 1967 Brisbane grand final. Gleeson constantly threw himself at the defensive line and had six of his bottom teeth broken off at the gums by Norths’ prop, Peter Hall. The ambulance man threw his hands in the air in frustration, when Gleeson refused to leave the field.
An old bloke near us (at the tavern) drinks sevens, and says he has done so for 50 years.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6
In an interview with Andrew Voss on FoxSports, former Australian five eighth/centre, Brett Kenny says the 1982 and ’86 Kangaroo tours of Britain and France remain among his fondest memories, and, on his return from his first tour in ’82, he urged Parramatta teammates to make it their goal in football to be selected for the ’86 trip. Those were the days. I covered both tours and it was a privilege to do so.
My wife, Marie and I attend Broncos Presentation Ball at the Convention Centre. Broncos’ football analyst, Scott Barker says he likes my website. Thanks mate. He is the nephew of former Brisbane Wests’ president, Gordon Treichel who was co-manager of the 1986 Roo tour. John Fleming from St George in Sydney was the other manager. Broncos’ trainer and groundsman, Tony ‘Springer’ Spencer tells me there has been a sink hole problem at Gilbert Park, the Broncos’ training venue. Marie talks to Broncos’ star, Sam Thaiday, who had been made aware our eldest lad, Damien was leaving his post at Beenleigh High to teach at East Ayr Primary School, in 2019. Damien taught Sam at Kirwan High in Townsville. Live music is provided by ‘Honey’.
There is a Harry Wells who plays union for Leicester in England. I wonder if he has heard of our own Harry ‘Dealer’ Wells, one of the greats of rugby league, who played 29 Tests between 1952 and 1960.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7
Watch television replay of schools final between Palm Beach Currumbin and Blacktown Patrician Brothers with PBC halfback, Tom Dearden winning the Peter Sterling Medal after the Gold Coast outfit won.
League historian, Terry Williams addresses the Australian team about the sacrifices our diggers, many of them footballers, made in World War 1.
Photo 1: Tweed Daily News photograph from the early 1970s
Photo 2: Jim Mills
Photo 3: British Lions tour program, 1971.