DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 50 2018
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11
Spend the night at my brother, Jeffrey’s place at South Tweed Heads. Jeff reminds me that, when he attended Mount St Patrick’s School at Murwillumbah, he would use his tuck shop money to buy home made chocolate from Tweed Fruit Exchange.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12
Former Balmain and Brisbane Brothers’ centre, Graham Roberts, is my companion (along with his dog, Molly) for morning tea at Kingscliff’s ‘Daily Grind’ Cafe. I played against Graham in Group 18/Gold Coast football when he was starting out with Cudgen. Now he is a veteran’s world wave ski champion. Graham was introduced to the sport by Mark Cummins, the father of former Wallaby winger, Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins, with Mark having played junior league for Cudgen, in a junior side coached by Roberts. His father, Ron scored the winning try for Australia in the Third and deciding Test match of the 1950 Ashes series against Great Britain, a match played in quagmire conditions at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It is still widely regarded as the most memorable Test in Australian rugby league history, particularly as it brought the Ashes Trophy home for the first time in 30 years. Graham recalls playing a match for Cudgen when one of his teammates wore boxing boots onto the field.
After coffee, I call into newsagency, run by my former Brisbane Brothers’ teammate, Greg ‘Boxhead’ Jackwitz. Greg was victim of the Ansett Airlines closure, losing his job after many years of loyal service. A former Murwilumbah Brothers’ teammate of mine, Bruce Vardy calls in while I am chatting to ‘Box’. Bruce had a butcher shop at Bogangar (Cabarita) on the Tweed Coast, and also played league for Mullumbimby.
I have fish and chips at Chinderah and buy fresh fish for dinner at Jeff’s. Before dinner, Jeff and I have a lovely walk around Point Danger, before beers with brothers, Peter and Mick Ryan at Greenmount Surf Club. When I tell Peter (nickname ‘cat’) that our eldest boy, Damien will teach at Ayr next year, he reminds me that he played club football there in 1981, and represented North Queensland against France in Townsville. France won 25-15, scoring five tries to three against a North Qld side which included former Cronulla five eighth, Barry ‘Panda’ Andrews; future Queensland hooker, Eddie Muller and cult hero, Frank Daisy. France’s star was five eighth, Jean-Jacques Villa, from XIII Catalan.
Former Catalans’ player, Laurent Garnier has been appointed assistant coach of Brisbane Easts Women’s side.
Former North Queensland Cowboys’ fullback, Matt Bowen is looking for an author for his proposed biography.
Learn of the passing of larger than life Brisbane personality, Vilma Ward, who I interviewed several times in the 1970s. Also learn of the passing of former prominent Brisbane Rugby League Referee, Les Sainsbury.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13
Visit my former Murwillumbah High School mate, and Tweed Daily News colleague, Phil Batty and his wife, Margie at their Clear Island Waters home on the Gold Coast. Their daughter, Giorgia, a fine basket ball player, has also been the recipient of a Duke of Edinburgh Award. Phil’s younger brother, Peter, a former Australian hockey representative, needs hip surgery. Peter’s son is a barrister. Phil was always wise with his money, and way back in 1972, when he was barely 20, built a house at Cabarita on the Tweed Coast. For a number of years, when Marie and I were a one income family, with three small children, Phil would allow us to stay at his ‘beach house’ for free. It was only 200 metres to the surf. He sold the house four years ago.
It seems, a group of lads who have been harassing younger kids in our Hermitage Gardens estate at Grange, are students of Kedron High.
League historian, Greg Mallory has visited Greymouth, on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Wingham Park at Greymouth, the smallest ground to host a league Test, is a ‘must visit’ for league tragics.
Try to buy stamps at Grange Post Office. All gone. “It’s like the pub with no beer,” the PO manager says, dryly.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16
My wife, Marie attends Windsor International Hotel Christmas party at Rocklily Restaurant, Virginia Gardens. Quite a few of the staff have Nepalese backgrounds, and this is reflected in the food. I drive to Brighton for a seafront walk, including the RAAF Park, where wind surfers are enjoying a cleansing ale. I have a beer at ordinary Brighton Hotel, a Coles’ establishment. No cricket on television in the public bar. I mean…
Move on to ‘Full Moon’ at Sandgate, which does show the cricket. A huge bloke in the public bar, wearing a singlet, drinks pints of beer and goes to the toilet after every sip, or so it seems. There is live music at Mr Henderson’s Bar, ‘down town’.
News Ltd journalist and prolific author, Grantlee Kieza has a story in the ‘Sunday Mail’ about my all time favorite Australian wicket keeper, Wally Grout, who I first saw play in an Ashes Test against England at the Gabba in 1965.
Learn that Taree United (now Taree City) rugby league ‘old boys’ raised $4,965 for former Radio 2RE caller, Marshall Loadsman at their Christmas drinks. Marshall is recovering from a severe stroke.
1 Graham Roberts the footballer and wave ski rider
2 Action from France’s 1981 Australian tour. Charles Zaluendo swerves past Newcastle’s Peter Alexander
3 1980s fun at the beach. Steve Ricketts with his children, Lliam (in the water), Melanie and Damien
4 Wally Grout.