DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 7 2019
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18
The World Club Challenge match between Wigan and the Roosters flows, largely because there is just one referee – Englishman, Robert Hicks.
New signing, Brett Morris scores three tries for the Roosters in their 20-8 win, and he is a fitting choice as man of the match. I liked the look of Wigan five eighth, George Williams, a local boy, who started out with Ince Rose Bridge juniors.
At a playground in Haig Road, Auchenflower, while looking after our grandsons, Ethan and Connor, I chat to a gentleman, (Britz, I think was his surname), who had recently sold his stake in Wahu Sports Products (beach toys) and bought a cattle property – Charolais and Brahman – at Lynch’s Creek near Kyogle.
A reader of my website reminds me that 1940s French league international, Joseph Maso’s son, Jo played rugby union for France and toured Australia in 1972, scoring two tries in a Test at Ballymore in Brisbane. Young Jo was brought up on league, but switched to the 15 man code, like so many young league players in France.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19
A group of Nudgee College boys, at a Grange bus stop, peer stony-faced at their smart phone screens. No animated conversation here.
Stafford Tavern regular, Jim House tells me that it is possible to surf on the outer Great Barrier Reef, and he has seen it, during fishing trips to The Swains, off Gladstone. On one occasion the surfers were from Australia Zoo, north of Brisbane. I don’t know whether Steve Irwin was one of them.
A Bunnings conference is held at Windsor International Motel, where my wife, Marie works in reception. No doubt there was lots of work shopping.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20
Former Australian rugby league five eighth, Tim Pickup, 70, goes missing from a aged care facility on Sydney’s northern beaches, but is found having a schooner of beer at North Sydney Leagues Club. Pickup played 11 Tests for Australia, between 1972 and ’74 – from Norths and Canterbury-Bankstown – and was one the fittest men, in any football code in this country.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21
Former Australian rugby league forward, John Payne died at 7 a.m. today. I send obituary details to Paul Malone at ‘The Courier-Mail’ and write my own piece for the Queensland Rugby League website, as well as posting one on this website (see Vale John Payne). I played a season with ‘Payney’, at Brisbane Norths in 1979, and he nicknamed me ‘fish’, because of my facial expressions, when running.
The rugby league rumor mill has Catalans’ star, Tony Gigot linked with North Queensland Cowboys and All Black, Sonny Bill Williams with Toronto Wolfpack.
Dentist, Trent Dunlop pulls out one of my teeth, after it shattered, while I was eating (frozen) dark chocolate, watching 1953 movie ‘From Here to Eternity’. Trent says an implant is the best thing.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22
The early talk on Radio TAB is about the passing of John Payne with discussion revolving around similar firebrands, such as John Sattler, Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach, Noel Kelly and rugby union’s Tony Shaw.
My former Tweed Daily News workmate, Jim Devine, sends me the news, via the BBC’s Dave Woods, that Widnes are ‘gone’, meaning the famous Cheshire rugby league club has ‘gone’ – into administration. So sad. Devine’s son Elliott worked for Toronto Wolfpack.
While channel surfing, I watch Wakefield Trinity v Catalans Dragons rugby league; Reds v Highlanders union; Australia v New Zealand women’s one day cricket in Perth; South Africa v Sri Lanka men’s cricket and AFLX, the latter a complete joke. Fouad Yahu has returned to Catalans from Agen rugby union. He said he missed the game he grew up with. Australia’s wicket keeper, Alyssa Healey has a couple of bad misses behind the stumps in Perth.
My former Courier-Mail colleague, Mike Westlake is now ‘brand strategy manager’ at Gold Coast Titans rugby league.
4BC’s Ray Hadley interviews veteran radio man, Paul Ambrosoli who called the 1966 Sydney Second Division grand final between Wentworthville and Penrith, which Penrith won 9-7. That Penrith side included Doug Ricketson, father of Luke, in the centres. Penrith and Cronulla-Sutherland were promoted to the top tier Sydney competition the following year, the first season of four tackle rugby league in Australia. It was a big call, leaving out Wentworthville, the most successful club in Second Division history. At one stage in the 1960s, wealthy ‘Wenty’ contracted dual Welsh rugby international, Lewis Jones.
A fund raiser is held for former Easts, Wynnum-Manly, Cronulla, Gateshead, Rochdale and Hull forward, Adam Maher, at Wynnum Leagues. Adam is battling motor neuron.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Morning tea at ‘Grand Ideas’, Northgate with other husbands of the St Flannan’s Playgroup ladies, who have been friends now for 30 years. Amazing. They have their gathering at the home of Margaret Barea, at Bridgeman Downs. The men were supposed to have coffee at the Australian Indian Motor Cycle Museum at Geebung, but it is shut. I didn’t know there was such a thing, and at first I thought it must have been a friendship association between Australians and Indians. Most of the other men in ‘our’ group are motor bike or car enthusiasts. I have no idea what they are talking about, half the time. Our Northgate venue is an amazing place, a antique and furniture sales emporium, with a cafe attached, selling lots of ‘stuff’, including metal seat numbers from the old MCG stands and the honor board from Clayfield Bowls Club.
The Queensland Reds Rugby Union side have done a contra deal with Brisbane’s Windsor International Motel, where my wife works. I think they are going to do some of their match prep there.
Monkees’ bassist, Peter Tork dies, aged 77. When I was 15, I just loved The Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer’ (written by Neil Diamond). My parents regularly took us to Brunswick Heads, and when they gave me five cents to buy something, I would put it in the juke box, in a cafe near the pub, and play ‘I’m a Believer’, and think I was so cool.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24
Australian bush legend, Margaret Harrison, who I interviewed at a Beer and Beef Club lunch at the Pineapple Hotel a few years back, phones Macca on the ABC, to relate some of the tragic events of flooding in northern Australia.
Big afternoon at Boundary Pub, West End, with family members and my nephew, Xavier Ricketts’ fiancee, Gemma Wuersching from Toowoomba. The bar manager, O’Kane, is friendly, and there is live music. On the way home I talk cricket, with my Punjabi cabbie.
1 Jo Maso (second from left, front row) in the 1946 French rugby league side
2 Tim Pickup (right) playing for New South Wales against Queensland. John Lang is about to cream him
3 John Payne in action for Queensland
4 Catalans Dragons rugby league fans.