DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 51 2018
Nate Searle, the son of former Gold Coast Titans’ rugby league chief executive, Michael Searle, almost drowns in a surf mishap at Currumbin Alley on the Gold Coast. Michael says the family is very lucky to have their boy. Joel Parkinson, a Titans’ fan, has retired from the world surfing tour. He was world champ in 2012.
Former Valleys’ forward, Kev Tyach was close friends with former North Sydney hooker, Ross Warner, a Tamworth product. Kev is a Lane Cove (Sydney) junior. “Ross is a beautiful man,” says Kev.
My former Murwillumbah High School classmate, Tom Tartan reminds me he once worked for Standard Sawmill at Murwillumbah, in the IT area, and was employed by noted businessman, Col Withey. Standard provided a lot of timber for the Brisbane market. Charles Lemaire was the forestry officer around the time, a man I interviewed for the Daily News several times. In those days, what is now the Border Ranges National Park, was Mebbin State Forest. The other sawmills I recall, at Murwillumbah, were Sly’s, Bryant’s and Hawkey’s. My sister, Kerri-Anne and my brother, Jeffrey and I would play in Bryant’s Sawmill at Bray Park, when it was closed on the weekend. No security in those days. We took sawdust from Hawkey’s mill to surface tracks we had cleared through the bush.
Trivia item of week: Rick Stein says 99 percent of prawns caught off the coast of Cornwall in England, are sold to Spain.
Family starts gathering for Christmas, and my wife makes pikelets. Our daughter, Melanie is home from Singapore and it is lovely to see her so happy in her relationship with Greg Mariotto, who we will meet for the first time on Boxing Day. Our daughter-in-law, Channelle attends Paul Kelly concert, ‘Making Gravy’. Our eldest boy, Damien had dinner with his cousin, Kieran Ricketts the previous night at Main Beach Surf Club.
Broncos’ media manager, Trad McLean sends a photo of my former Murwillumbah Brothers’ rugby league teammate, Archie Smith at the Coolangatta Sands Hotel.
Jim Donnelly celebrates his 90th birthday at Casino, on the Richmond River, and my wife, Marie and I are privileged to be there, for what is a lovely occasion. Jim is Marie’s uncle, the younger brother of her late father, Kevin. A former railway worker, Jim is a noted gardener, and his tomatoes are to die for. You won’t find that quality in the supermarkets. He says a daily dose of molasses has been the key to his longevity. The food, provided by the local auxiliary in St Mark’s Hall, is magnificent, and there is even live music. One guest is a dead ringer for former Canberra Raiders’ forward, Todd Payten. There are two Anglican nuns at the party.
From Casino, we drive to Main Beach on the Gold Coast for a family get-together, encountering a hail storm as we pass through Surfers Paradise, with one giant ‘stone’ landing on the roof.
My good mate, Brian Atherton and his wife Carole, dine at Redcliffe RSL, and are not impressed by the quality of the fish. Brian says to one of the waitresses: ‘What’s that out there?’ pointing to the waters of Moreton Bay. “It’s the sea”, she says. “Well, what is the excuse for having fish, which has come out of a packet,” Brian replies. “Do you want to see the chef?” the girl says. “Yes please”, says Brian. After waiting a considerable period, Brian and Carole leave. Brian looked into the kitchen, and the chef was a giant Maori. “I’m glad he didn’t come out,” said Brian.
Coffee from Main Beach Pavilion, which is showing an old Canberra Raiders v Broncos rugby league match, on its television screen. Afterwards we have drinks in our youngest son, Lliam’s apartment, where we meet much traveled rugby league coach, David High. David is an ex-Brisbane Valleys’ coaching director, and also has coached Brothers in the Ipswich League and Evans Head in the Northern Rivers competition. He is a friend of former Gold Coast Titans’ coach, Neil Henry.
Brisbane Men of League Committee patron, Ron Atkins has been given six of Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner’s State of Origin blazers, by family members. ‘Tosser’ was a legendary Origin manager in the 1980s and ’90s.
1 Jim Donnelly with nieces, Carolyne Soward and Marie Ricketts and nephew, Kevin Donnelly
2 Kieran Ricketts (left) with cousins, Damien and Melanie Ricketts
3 Brian and Carole Atherton
4 David High (left) and Lliam Ricketts.