DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 9 2019
MONDAY, MARCH 4
The Courier-Mail’s Peter Badel asks new Brisbane Broncos’ coach, Anthony Siebold if he will continue with plans for the Broncos to play a more expansive game than they did in 2018, under Wayne Bennett. Evidently, under Wayne, the Broncos finished 15th out of 16 clubs in terms of the number of passes. It is so sad that there is such a stat. Passing should be something that is instinctive, and made when a defender is drawn and a support player is in a good position. Either that, or quick hands are employed to get an overlap. It’s not rocket science, and should just be so much a part of the game, it doesn’t need forensic investigation. The interview between Badel and Siebold is featured on FoxSports, which covers The Courier-Mail’s NRL Launch at the Convention Centre in Brisbane.
TUESDAY, MARCH 5
Great chat with former New South Wales’ winger, Don Pascoe. I rang him about a story I was writing for Men of League magazine, and he told me about his days of playing for NSW Country against City, from Gunnedah, and then against Queensland, for New South Wales, in the 1968 and ’69 seasons. He was unlucky not to have been selected for Australia.
Next door neighbour, Len O’Brien has had a day from hell. His new golf buggy went into the canal at Nudgee golf course, and his mobile phone with it.
Our eldest lad, Damien texts to say lead singer of Prodigy, Keith Flint has died. Our youngest bloke, Lliam saw him at Brisbane’s Riverstage on January 28.
Townsville photographer, Cameron Laird’s business is now 25 years old. I covered a lot footy in Townsville, with Cameron, who is a good operator and a lovely bloke.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6
New Queensland manager of Men of League charity, Andrew Blucher attends our Brisbane Committee meeting at Ithaca Bowls Club, where there is a big (bowls) event taking place. Andrew, part of arguably Brisbane’s most famous media family, supported Wests Panthers in the mid 1970s, when they boasted the likes of dual international, Geoff Richardson; ‘that man’ Harry Cameron; John Ribot, Norm Carr, Wayne Stewart, Greg Oliphant and Greg ‘Slippery’ McCarthy. The captain, when they won the premiership in 1975, under the coaching of Ron Raper, was former Newtown (Sydney) forward, Bob Green, who is a volunteer at the Bowls Club, and is introduced to Andrew. At some stage during the meeting, I used the term ‘cold as charity’. It is a new one for Andrew.
Committee member, Cliff Coyle gives me a copy of a story I wrote about former Wests’ player, Craig Little, who was killed, playing for Wests in 1990. It was so sad. I had to go to Craig’s parents’ place, at Arana Hills, I think it was, to interview the family. They named ‘the hill’ at Purtell Park, Wests’ home ground, after Craig.
Our youngest son, Lliam’s business, Supply Partners (solar energy), picks up another award.
FRIDAY, MARCH 7
Courier-Mail league writer, Peter Badel phones from Sydney, seeking contact details for Redcliffe chairman, Bob Jones, as the Australian Rugby League Commission is serious about the Dolphins being a contender for inclusion in the NRL. I had hoped to attend funeral for Billy J Smith, but have a throat infection and think it best to steer clear of the crowded church. Billy’s former workmate and great friend, Pat Welsh delivers one of the eulogies. I force myself to attend a meeting at QRL headquarters, re a possible State of Origin display at the Museum of Brisbane. The meeting is a debacle. QRL chairman, Bruce Hatcher was under the impression it would be a display devoted entirely to Origin, given next year is the 40th anniversary of this wonderful concept. But the Museum people were just after a few items to supplement a theme which concentrates on different areas of Brisbane, including Milton, where Suncorp Stadium (formerly Lang Park) is located.
After the meeting I met new Men of League Events Manager, Jodie Watson, a former Australian water polo player.
Drive past the Paddington Tavern on the way home, and the place is packed, as it is the venue for Billy J’s wake. Former Courier-Mail colleague, Paul Malone is one familiar face that I spot.
I must be crook, because I rule out going to Brisbane Broncos’ launch at Howard Smith Wharves.
North Queensland Cowboys also have their launch, and evidently the guest comedian, a female, is a shocker. Matt Bowen, Matt Sing and Paul Bowman are inducted into the Cowboys Hall of Fame, all top blokes, as well as being great players.
Learn of the passing of neighbour, Eve Poppa, 85, who, it is estimated, delivered 5,000 babies. She came to Australia from Europe, in 1936 when she was just a baby herself.
SATURDAY, MARCH 8
Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock has a yarn in The Courier-Mail about Gold Coast Titans’ head of performance and culture, Mal Meninga placing special emphasis on the history of the game in the region. I get a mention, given I supplied Mal with a written account of the game’s heritage (see ‘History of Rugby League on the Gold Coast’, this website).
Brisbane Easts’ have two indigenous lads worth keeping an eye on, according to my spies. One is Jack Bowen-Bowyer and the other is a Mundine. Easts are affiliated with NRL club, Melbourne Storm. Easts Leagues club directors are worried about the viability of the club, long term, because of Queens Wharf, which is due to open in 2022. Easts are concerned they could be down 20 to 30 percent on operating revenue, because people will flood to the casino at the wharf. Just what we need – another casino. I wonder if our nanny state State Government will ram the ‘Gamble Responsibly’ message down the throats of high rollers from Asia, as they get off the plane.
Brisbane Men of League chairman, Ian Gatenby sends me a photo of him and Sydney Telegraph league writer, Dean ‘Bulldog’ Ritchie at the MOL race day at Forster, in New South Wales. Dean and I covered many games together. In 2004 I covered Australia’s Tri-Nations campaign in Britain when Wayne Bennett was coach. The Aussies won. The next year it was Bulldog’s turn to cover the trip to the UK, and the Aussies lost. That was the end of Wayne Bennett as Australian coach. I blame Bulldog.
SUNDAY, MARCH 9
‘I Made a Hundred in the Backyard at Mum’s’ by Greg Champion, is played on Macca’s show on the ABC. Definitely a museum piece, given there are very few backyards left. Backyards were a lovely part of growing up in Australia, but those days are gone. Mind you, not every backyard was suitable for cricket. My Grandparents, Bill and Eve Ricketts at Maclean in northern NSW, had ducks in their backyard. Macca also plays a great song about Brisbane being a big country town 30 odd years ago. Some people say Brisbane was boring then. It was only boring if you were boring. There were plenty of good places to eat and drink; prices were good; life was uncomplicated and there was no shortage of sport AND culture.
1 Don Pascoe
2 Redcliffe prop, Steve Bullow takes the attack into the heart of Wests defence;
3 Billy J Smith (third from left) with (from left) Bob Fulton, Bob Abbott and Arthur Beetson
4 Bill Ricketts feeds a magpie in his back yard at Maclean on the Clarence River, back in the 1960s.