DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 14 2019
My physio, Paula Nutting’s brother, Bill is interviewed in The Courier-Mail about the family business, Brett’s Hardware. Bill says Bunnings has done an excellent job of putting independent hardware traders out of business. Paula is a great fans of the Betoota Advocate and the Ascot Mums Facebook page.
Former Brisbane Brothers’ rugby league secretary, Don Munro tells me club legend, Peter Gallagher once chased Wests’ Test halfback, Barry Muir around the ping pong table at the old Brothers’ club house. Don couldn’t recall what ‘Garbo’ (Muir) had done to upset Gallagher.
Former Queensland wicket keeper, Lew Cooper, OAM, has died, aged 81. I had a bit to do with Lew, from a sports journalism point of view, and also when I wrote a licensed club column for The Courier-Mail, in 1994, and Lew was the manager of the Cricketers Club at the Gabba.
Marie and I attend the Broncos – Wests Tigers match at Suncorp Stadium, hoping to see an improved effort from the home side, after three losses from their first four games. But the club’s unimpressive start, under new coach, Anthony Siebold continues, with the Tigers winning 22-16. Inter-change player, Michael Chee Kam scores the winning try for the ‘Tiges’, and it was a magnificent effort, with the former Australian Schoolboy skipping past five defenders and carrying Anthony Milford across the line. Chee Kam was in great touch, but the best player was Wests’ halfback, Luke Brooks. Where was Milford a few minutes before Chee Kam’s try, when the Broncos should have, at the very least, had a shot at field goal. There didn’t seem to be a plan, and the ball was meekly turned over. The match saw the debut of Brisbane Easts’ junior, Pat Carrigan for the Broncos. Marie and I had a lovely chat to fellow league fans, Bronwyn and Ken Reading at the footy.
Prostate Cancer Foundation ambassador, Ken Thackeray OAM is guest speaker at Beer and Beef club lunch, which I MC, at Customs House. Ken’s guest is Peter Duffy, the CEO of the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Queensland. I have drinks with former Courier-Mail workmate, Greg Kemp, whose father-in-law, Col Wakerley, is a long standing club member. 4 Pines is the beer supplied by CUB. One bloke at the lunch says his son is a vegan, and does not have a sense of humor. Some would say it goes with the territory. The Native American term for a vegan is ‘Poor hunter’.
The finishing touches are being applied to ANZAC Square, and about time too. On the bus trip home, I see a lovely little girl, who reminds me of my mum, when she was around the same age.
Funeral of North Queensland Rugby League legend, Tom Tassell is held at Bridgeman Downs. Tom was a Life Member of Cairns’ Kangaroos and represented North Queensland. His sons, Brad, Kris and Jason, were all fine footballers. The wake was held at Norths leagues club, Nundah.
Rugby League ‘Immortal’, Johnny Raper turns 80. I interviewed ‘Chook’ many times, especially after he became a national selector. The first time I saw him play live, was the Second Test against New Zealand at Lang Park, Brisbane on July 1, 1967, when my father, Jon drove me from Murwillumbah to watch the action from the packed terraces. Raper scored a try in Australia’s 35-22 victory, in a match which saw the Test debut of Newcastle Wests’ hooker, Allan Buman, who replaced Townsville’s Brian Fitzsimmons, the hooker in Australia’s First Test, 22-13 victory in Sydney.
Gold Coast Titans claim their first scalp of 2019, beating Penrith 30-24 at Robina. Our eldest boy, Damien tipped the Titans, which makes him a genius.
Melbourne Storm skipper/hooker, Cameron Smith becomes the greatest point scorer in premiership history as the Storm maintain their unbeaten record with a 18-12 result against North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville. He gets a deserved hug from his kids after the match, as Cowboys’ great, Jonathan Thurston stands and applauds his former Australian and Queensland teammate. Smith was also the best player on the field. Cowboys’ winger, Nene McDonald suffered a broken and dislocated ankle. I am all for play being allowed to continue, as much as possible in league. We don’t want a rugby union situation, where play stops so a prop can do-up his boot laces. But on this occasion, it was cruel to watch, as the refs and touchies ignored pleas from the Cowboys’ trainers for McDonald to get medical attention.
In an interview with Matt Johns, dual rugby superstar, Sonny Bill Williams says a lot of skill has gone out of rugby league, and I have to agree. Who do we blame? SBW says the culture at Melbourne Storm is similar to that at the All Blacks.
Also on FoxSports, Jimmy Smith and Danny Buderus tip big things for Newcastle second rower, Beau Fermor, a Dalby product. Manly centre, Reuben Garrick looks good in the Sea Eagles’ 26-18 win over the Knights in Newcastle. Manly winger, Addin Fonua-Blake carries on like a pork chop, after being sin binned for a high tackle on Mitchell Pearce, a charge which resulted in a two match ban.
Brisbane Brothers will field only two under-8 teams this year, I’m told. There were four last year.
Touch judge in Ipswich Jets v Norths match at North Ipswich Reserve calls so many forwards passes. Keep out of it, touchies, I say. Leave it to the ref, and refs, please, give the advantage to the attacking side, if the pass is line-ball. As long as you are consistent, there should not be a drama. Controversial ref., the late Barry Gomersall had the right idea. The touchies are there to adjudicate on back play incidents and whether someone has gone out. Barry ignored the forward pass calls, if he thought the pass was OK.
Jets’ co-coach, Shane Walker’s son, Jake is one of the ball boys at the Reserve. Shane’s younger brother, Chris works for Channel 9 and appears nervous, as he conducts interviews. There was drama over whether Norths’ had 14 men on the field at one stage, and it is something that Chris should have asked about, but when you don’t have journalistic training, these things happen. As things transpired, Norths were fined $2,500 over the incident, and were lucky not to lose the two competition points after their 31-14 win.
Canberra five eighth, Jack Wighton makes a magnificent tackle on Parramatta’s Clint Gutherson, but is then penalised for a facial. Really! Those were the only facials we got when I played. Now a facial is something the lads pay for.
There are several famous surnames in the Widnes under-16 side, which beats Huddersfield, including Hesketh and Tyrer. Chris Hesketh was skipper of the 1974 Great Britain side in Australia and Colin Tyrer was a prominent English player in the 1960s and ’70s.
1 Don and Heather Munro with Marie Ricketts.
2 Classic shot of Johnny Raper tackling.
3 Johnny Raper leads St George onto the field. Billy Smith and Elton Rasmussen are the teammates.