DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK FIVE 2019
MONDAY, JANUARY 28
Australian rocker, Billy Thorpe’s version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is played on Ray Hadley’s radio program. I recall commenting to my parents, back in the 1960s, as we cruised down Oak Avenue, in the Tweed Valley, that this song was proof that rock stars could come up with lovely melodies. I had no idea the song was first recorded by Judy Garland, back in the 1930s. But of course, teenagers, no matter what the era, think they know it all. Watch a little of the 1940s Australian movie, ‘Eureka Stockade’, about a time, in 1854, when miners fought a battle under the Southern Cross Flag, at Ballarat in Victoria. The movie starred the likes of Chips Rafferty, Gordon Jackson and Peter Finch. I have Peter Fitzsimons’ book, ‘Eureka’, which he, a staunch Republican, has tagged ‘The Unfinished Revolution’.
English photographer, Andrew Varley and his wife, Sandy return from a holiday in Brugge, Belgium. In France, our friend, Gilles Fleuret has become a selector for the Cahor rugby league under-16s.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29
There is a huge turnout, at Tweed Heads, for the funeral of our beloved nephew, Kieran Ricketts, who took his own life last week, aged 36. Eulogies are delivered by Kieran’s parents, Jeffrey and Ann, and sisters, Jacinta and Laura, and they all do so well, with Kieran’s younger brother, Xavier in support. Jeffrey said Kieran had displayed unbelievable courage and determination, dragging himself out of the abyss so many times. If he had been able to pursue his creative flair in music, he would have been a happier soul. ABC’s Head of News, Gavin Morris also delivers a eulogy on behalf of Kieran’s former workmates at the national broadcaster. The ABC brought a coach load of employees to the service, to pay tribute to Kieran, who was a supreme digital strategist and video story teller. He played a big role in ensuring the ABC embraced digital current affairs, in 2009. Father Paul McDonald, a family friend, says Mass. The band and singers are first class. ‘I Love You Just the Way You Are’ and ‘Piano Man’ played as the service ends.
Kieran’s ashes are to be scattered from the top of Mount Warning, a landmark synonymous with the Ricketts’ family.
RIP KIERAN RICKETTS.
A Wake is held at Ivory Tavern, Boyd’s Bay, Tweed Heads, where the bar manager is former Cronulla halfback, Mark Wakefield, who was previously at the Mount Warning Pub, Uki. Mark is a former captain-coach of my old club, Murwillumbah Brothers, and also had a stint at Villeneuve-sur-Lot in France. Kieran was a Roosters’ fan.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30.
The overall standard of play in Big Bash cricket match between the Renegades and Thunder is low. One bloke is run out when he uses his cricket bat as a shovel, instead of sliding it along the ground.
Learn of the passing of former Wynnum-Manly rugby league centre, Keith Smith.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 31
Former Queensland State of Origin skipper, and ex-Roosters’ star, Trevor Gillmeister tells his barber (and mine) Eric Pappas that the Chooks will rule in 2019. I must agree. I buy a new pair of running shoes at Rebel, from a salesman who is an ex-Padua student, now in charge of cross country at Gregory Terrace College.
Drinks tonight at local bar, Quincy’s with Courier-Mail sports writer (and former colleague), Paul Malone and former Sydney Wests’ league skipper and former ABC radio commentator, Warren Boland. Eight blokes near us are drinking light beer, and yet they are so loud. Would hate to hear them on the IPA.
Learn of the passing of Don King, father of rugby league brothers, Chris, Andrew and Matt King, who all grew up in Casino, and were closely connected with my wife, Marie’s family.
Bradley Nardi, the son of my former Murwillumbah Brothers’ captain-coach, Jack Nardi, is now head of Tweed Tourism.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1
Gerry McKendry, a former police officer, recalls the wild old days at the Inala pub in Brisbane’s south, when the locals would challenge the police, and soldiers from Wacol, to fights. Walk home from Stafford Tavern, along Kedron Brook, with Keith Daley, who insists on buying a ‘traveller’, for each of us. He has a XXXX Gold, while I hop into a Balter. Marie and I have South Australian flathead for dinner, while I give myself a treat with a dozen oysters from Nambucca Heads, on the North Coast of New South Wales.
Watch yet another dud Big Bash cricket match.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2
Pool ‘tournament’ at Derek Barea’s place at Bridgeman Downs, with Derek’s Bundaberg Rum bar the venue. Other attendees are Rocky Pagano, Dennis Olive (who provides party pies) and Paul Grady, a former clock maker with Queensland Rail. Dennis has a chain of laundromats, while Derek is a builder. Rocky, like me, is a retired old person. Derek plays vinyl (records) as we battle away at pool. My wife, Marie is attending a morning tea at Murrumba Downs, with the wives of the afore-mentioned gentlemen.
London Broncos, coached by Danny Ward, announce a 28 man squad for the upcoming Super League season and 11 are home grown. There is progress being made in the nation’s capital, and there should always be a London team in Super League.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3
Major flooding in North Queensland. Our son, Damien, his wife, Emma and their daughter, Parker live at Ayr in the Burdekin Valley, but aside from mold, things are OK, where they live. Damien has started work as deputy principal at East Ayr Primary School.
While channel surfing, I come across the worst dive I have ever seen in soccer, and boy, that is saying something. This bloke’s name is Alex Mendez, and he is playing for Freiburg against Stuttgart in Germany. What a princess.
In Sevens rugby, a 19-year-old Irish girl, scores a great try against the USA, thanks to her amazing sidestep. Scotland Rugby’s Sam Johnson is a former student of St Edmund’s College Ipswich, and played rugby league for Gold Coast Titans under-20s, as well as turning out for Tweed Heads Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup. He was born at Dysart in Central Queensland.
Former Manly-Warringah rugby league star, Phil Blake is defence coach for Leicester Tigers in English Rugby Union.
1 The extended Ricketts’ family at the funeral of Kieran Ricketts
2 Kieran Ricketts (left) and his younger brother, Xavier
3 Shaun Edwards in his London Broncos’ days. Photo Varley Picture Agency.