DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 47 2018
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19
‘Schoolies’ is in full swing on the Gold Coast as my wife, Marie and I drive back to Brisbane, after a break at Lennox Head in northern New South Wales. We see several ‘schoolie’ support crews, and there is a tasteless sign (no pun intended): ‘Don’t Blow It. Forced Sex Never Cool’.
Learn of the passing of noted cartoonist, Larry Pickering, who had been residing on the Gold Coast. As well as being a political satirist, he was a fine artist. I recall one cartoon where Bob Hawke was breasting the bar with a woman, and Bob said: “I think all women should be able to share equally with men.” She says: “Do you Bob? Why”. “Cos they keep orderin’ bloody Brandy Alexanders!”
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Gold Coast Titans’ new head of performance and culture, Mal Meninga asks me to write a history of rugby league on the Coast and Northern New South Wales, to reinforce to players and staff that the region has a proud tradition in the 13 man code. Mal, a former Australian skipper and current Australian coach, confirms a report I heard a few years back, that he played a couple of games for Murwillumbah High School Old Boys, in 1978, when he was a cadet at the Police Academy in Brisbane. Another cadet, Peter McIlwain, came from Murwillumbah and had played for Old Boys. He convinced Mal to have a run, under an assumed name. It could be argued that Mal played his first senior football in New South Wales, and therefore, should have been eligible for the Blues in State of Origin! Mal is always bagging me for being a Blue, so it was good to get one back on him. Peter’s father, Ross ‘Paddles’ McIlwain, was a referee in the Tweed/Gold Coast league, and now lives on Russell Island in Moreton Bay. I played a number of games under Paddles’ control. My Murwillumbah Brothers’ outfits played at four different venues on the Gold Coast – Owen Park, Southport (against Gold Coast Tigers); Rudd Park, Burleigh Heads (right on the beachfront) and Pizzey Park, Miami (against Burleigh Bears) and the Gold Coast Pacing Track (Surfers Paradise Pirates). In school football, I played for Murwillumbah against Miami High and St Aquinas College, Southport. New Titans’ CEO, Steve Mitchell’s grandfather and great uncles played rugby league for the old Currumbin club.
A woman at barber, Eric Pappas’s Stafford business says she used to go out with former Queensland skipper, Trevor Gillmeister’s father. A chap in the shop, surname Potter, said he did work for former Queensland State of Origin manager, the late Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner. He didn’t say what sort of work.
Thomas Brindle, a graduate of Canon Slade High School in Bolton, has been appointed ‘Head of Growth’ at the Rugby Football League in England.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22
News from Sydney that noted historian, Terry Williams has been shown the door by the NRL, and no longer works at their museum. Former Queensland Origin forward, Kevin Campion is to coach Bilambil in the Gold Coast League. Campion played for Gold Coast Seagulls from 1993 to 1995, signing with the club from his home town, Sarina, after trialing with ‘Gulls, at the invitation of coaching staff member, Grant Bell.
Watch some of the AFL draft. What a meat market! Those on show are mainly skinny, white kids, a reassuring sight for moms not wanting their boys to play either rugby code, where solidly built Polynesian lads are starting to dominate.
Our youngest son, Lliam has set up an office in Melbourne, for his solar energy business, Supply Partners. His youngest boy, Connor sticks a piece of red lego up his nose, and needs a hospital visit. Finishes well.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23
First joggers of the day go past our place at 4.25 a.m., with a ‘running club’, charging through at 5 a.m. This is a result of not having daylight saving. Channel 7’s Pat Welsh is MC for a Men of League lunch in his home city, Bundaberg, where he interviews former Queensland hooker, Hugh O’Doherty (an Ipswich product) and former Australian forward, Michael Crocker, a product of the Brighton Roosters club in Brisbane.
The theme music from private eye television series, Peter Gunn is played on 4KQ. Written by Henry Mancini, it is a classic.
A friend of ours, who has a male relative driving trains in the bush, says his female co-driver gets emotional every time the train hits a kangaroo. I think she chose the wrong job.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24
It seems the Stafford Tavern will no longer sponsor Valleys Rugby League, and the club also has lost the right to sell raffle tickets there. Brothers Rugby League and Brothers’ Golf Club now have the rights. There are reports the now deserted Stafford Bowls Club will be renovated in a partnership between Brisbane City Council and the Brisbane Racing Club. Broncos Leagues Club manager, Joe Kelly has recruited a new chef, from Arana Leagues.
Marie and I attend a Christmas party with friends my wife met 30 odd years ago, through Playgroup. Harry Linari, a noted sprinter in his younger days, says he was once banned from amateur athletics – in Wollongong – for six months, after running against pros.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25
Watch part of England v Wallabies union Test from Twickenham, with the Poms winning 37-18. Amazing to see the reserves come into the in-goal area to celebrate with Israel Folau after he scores a try. Folau ran through a pathetic attempt at tackle by England five eighth, Owen Farrell. I’m sure Owen didn’t tackle like that when he played rugby league for Wigan St Patrick’s. It was a great try by Folau, but the commentator went a little overboard in describing it. The ABC news report of the match calls halftime “THE LONG BREAK’. Please. Is nothing sacred? Former Parramatta rugby league winger, Semi Radradra scores a great try in Fiji’s shock win over France.
1 A young Mal Meninga
2 Action from an Old Boys (white jerseys) v Brothers match at Murwillumbah, in 1973.
3 Hugh O’Doherty is second from right, middle row, in Valleys’ 1973 squad.