DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 16 2019
A photograph of Wally Lewis, making his Test debut for Australia against France at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1981, adorns my office wall at our Grange residence in Brisbane. It was given to me by former Brisbane Rugby League executive officer, Roger Robinson when he was cleaning out his office, at the end of his ‘reign’. It shows Wally, contracted to Valleys in Brisbane, sizing up an attacking opportunity against the French side, his opposite on that day, Guy Alard from Carcassonne. One day, I arrived home, to find the picture had been taken down from the wall. The reason? It frightened our youngest grandson, Connor, as he tried to sleep in his cot in the room during a visit with his mum, Channelle.
‘Your Time’ magazine has an article on spoonerisms. My father, Jon loved them, and even in his declining years, as dementia took hold, was able to rattle off spoonerisms he learnt as a teenager.
Valleys’ stalwart, Frank Clancy has donated money to the club’s juniors, to ensure the under-11s do not have to pay any fees. Franks owns a few hotels, one of them McGuire’s in Mackay. A story in The Courier-Mail refers to Valleys as Valleys’ Rugby Club, which, of course, as any self respecting Queenslander or New South Welshman knows, means rugby union, not league. Tut Tut. No doubt written by a South Australian.
Ray Hadley speaks to Australian singer, Noeleen Batley, who recorded ‘Barefoot Boy’ when she was 16. She has lived in Miami, USA for 30 years and is close friends with Barry Gibb.
In Uxbridge Street, Grange a bloke with distinct Italian number plates, who always parks on the footpath, goes straight to his mobile as he drives off. Just around the corner, a cyclist tears up the street on his mobile. Now wouldn’t it be poetic justice if…..no, Stephen. That’s too cruel.
Barmaid at Stafford Tavern says to ‘The Table of Knowledge’ – ‘Have You seen my pussy?’ After the initial shock, calm was restored when she pointed to a tattoo of a cat. The barmaid, who is studying law, has never heard of ‘Are You Being Served’ and Mrs Slocombe.
My wife, Marie and I attend ANZAC Day service at Windsor and buy ANZAC biscuits afterwards. The Marshall of the Ceremony, Alan Webster is so hard to understand. Windsor State School pupils pay tribute to animals in war.
In Melbourne, snipers are stationed on The Cenotaph. What have we come to!
An ABC interviewer asks a former soldier: “What gets you off about going to war?” Any wonder the only ABC I listen to regularly is Macca and Grandstand.
Former Penrith hooker, Ron Workman, a Vietnam Vet., leads the Dawn Service at Currumbin for the last time. A FoxSports presenter says Penrith were the laughing stock of rugby league for 35 years! I slight exaggeration. They did win their first premiership in their 24th season.
Kevin Brasch OAM, retires as chairman of the Queensland Rugby League History Committee, and I am elected in his place. Kevin, the foundation chairman and the brains behind the committee, is honored by the QRL Board, at an informal lunch afterwards at QRL Headquarters, with Board member, former Test back, Ben Ikin, interviewing Kevin as if he was on Ben’s FoxSports Show. Kevin achieved a lot in his decade in charge of the committee, but finished frustrated that he was not able to achieve his ultimate aim of establishing a museum in Suncorp Stadium, the old Lang Park. Kevin, who played for Huddersfield in England, said his all time favorite player was Australian Test centre, Reg Gasnier.
Bulldogs v Cowboys game is so boring, and there is no-one there. An old Digger plays the Last Post beautifully, before the Penrith v Souths match, and there is a good crowd there, thank heavens.
Former Brisbane Norths’ prop, Campbell ‘Zulu’ Dews is in the 28,000 crowd at the Broncos (29) v Cronulla (6) match at Suncorp Stadium. ‘Zulu’ played for Cronulla RSL as a junior, before joining Norths in 1979. We played a few games together, in what was my final full season as a player. ‘Zulu’ is having a halftime ale with mates, John Alroe, Cliff Adams and Dennis Cook, the latter a former captain of Norths.
At the post match press conference, Broncos’ coach, Anthony Siebold walks out when The Courier-Mail’s Paul Malone asks a question about the looming ‘grudge match’ against Souths, who are coached by Wayne Bennett, the man Siebold has replaced at the Broncos. The question had to be asked. Siebold wasn’t being asked about Middle East conflicts or a cure for cancer.
Ray Hadley and his Continuous Call team cover the rugby league derby between the Bathurst clubs, St Pats and Railways. Luke Branighan, the son of former South Sydney star, Arthur Branighan, is captain-coach of St Pats. (Luke’s uncle, Ray played 17 Tests for Australia, and had a season at Ayr). There is a 43-year-old prop running around for one of the Bathurst teams. The oldest bloke I can remember playing against was Paddy Morgan, and I think he was 37 when he was hooker for the Burleigh Bears in 1970, and I was 17. He looked about 60 to me.
There is a wild brawl in a GPS v Wests Brisbane rugby union match on FoxSports, with the participants going over the sideline.
Canberra Raiders players wear black arm bands in honor of former player, Alfie Walker, the older brother of dual rugby international, Andrew Walker. Alfie died of a heart attack on ANZAC Day.
Newcastle’s Samoan five eighth, Mason Lino hurts his hand making what I regard as a cowardly tackle on a bloke who was already held, in a New South Wales Cup match. Then Lino pushes the trainer away.
Our eldest boy, Damien scores four runs; takes two wickets and makes a catch playing for Ayr (110) against Townsville Norths (140) in cricket.
1 Wally Lewis in his Test debut against France;
2 Kevin Brasch (left) chairs his last meeting of the QRL History Committee. That’s North Queensland member, Greg Shannon on the right.
3 New chairman, Steve Ricketts (left) and Kevin Brasch
4 Reg Gasnier.