DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 24 2019
Broadbeach Newsagency was robbed overnight. It is a designated crime scene as I turn up to buy ‘The Courier-Mail’. My wife, Marie and I are enjoying a beach break. Coffee from busy ‘Elk’ Cafe is excellent.
Marie and I have dinner (tapas) at excellent Social Eating House, where our waitress is Estonian and the barman, Irish (Galway).
Marie has us moved to another room, because of drilling noise from construction work next door. They don’t tell you about these things when you make your booking. A bloke at Elk is on his mobile as he orders his coffee. That is so rude.
Marie and I walk from Broadbeach to Nobby’s Beach and get a bus back, after lunch at excellent BSKT. When I tell our daughter-in-law, Channelle, she is impressed. “That’s where all the cool kids go.’ If I had known that, there’s no way we would have dined there. Only serious. The prawn tacos and veg noodles were excellent. Evidently former Test rugby league star, Greg Bird owns, or once owned, a share in BSKT.
On our walk we chatted to Roberta, originally from Morwell in Victoria, who worked as a secretary for an architectural firm in Melbourne. She and her husband (79) have retired to Mermaid Waters. There is a dredge operating off Tugun.
Learn of the passing of Jean Smith, 96, a former neighbour of our eldest son, Damien and his wife Emma and daughter, Parker at Main Beach on the Gold Coast. Jean loved the fact that Damien, Emma and Parker afforded her so much of their time, and helped out in a number of tangible ways.
Workers on a high rise near us start well before 7 a.m. Another old bloke and I are equally irritated by people taking forever to pay at the newsagency, when all we want is a paper, and because it has to be scanned, you can’t just leave the change on the counter, although, I have been known to do this, and then just walk out, despite the protestations of the person behind the counter.
Dinner at sports bar in Star Casino. Roast beef is tender.
Marie and have a lovely walk at Burleigh Heads and enjoy watching the surf board riders. A lass on a long board has the time of her life. Fitness equipment is being installed at Rudd Park, where I played a couple of rugby league games, for Murwillumbah Brothers against Burleigh Bears, back in the 1960s, before Burleigh moved to their new home at Pizzey Park, Miami. Menu for the award winning ‘Fish House’ Restaurant, includes coral trout from Bowen in North Queensland; oysters from Wallis Lake on the mid-North Coast of New South Wales and King George Whiting from Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. On the other hand, the fishmonger in James Street has Argentinian flathead and Chinese scallops! To be fair, he has local stuff too.
Learn of the passing of Ted Weber, OAM, from Maryborough, a former Queensland and Australian rugby league team manager, and manager of the 1989 Queensland Residents’ tour of France, which I covered for ‘The Courier-Mail’.
Bill Deacon, New Zealand Rugby League’s player of the year in 1965, also has died. A Waikato product, he coached at Junee and Wagga Wagga in Australia’s Riverina Division. He made his Test debut against Great Britain at Swinton (Manchester) during the Kiwis 1965-66 tour of Britain and France. All up, he played 14 Tests between 1965-70. He played 19 matches on that 1965-66 tour.
The Women’s State of Origin Rugby League match from North Sydney Oval proves a fine spectacle, in front of a crowd of 10,515. New South Wales, brilliantly led by the impressive Kezie Apps, retain the Shield with a 14-4 win over Queensland.
Learn of the passing of former New South Wales’ forward, Lindsay Drake, aged 69. Drake, who was a beach sprint champion, played one match for Blues, against Queensland in 1971. He played in two losing grand final sides – for Manly in 1970 and St George in 1975.
Toowoomba Rugby League hold their Centenary dinner. The region has an amazing rugby league history, and to mark the centenary, Toowoomba chairman, Brian Gilroy releases a book called ‘A Century of Achievement’. Noted author and former Channel 9 sports presenter, Steve Haddan, a Toowoomba product, contributes an article. Steve says that until the ABC started black and white replays of Brisbane club matches in 1969, Toowoomba league fans either listened to local games on radio – commentators Bob Mahoney, Doug McIntyre and Des McGovern – or went to the ground. The first league match played in Toowoomba was that between the former Rangers’ rugby union club and Starlights from Ipswich, on October 12, 1912. Starlights won 27-18. The most famous name from the Toowoomba Rugby League is Duncan Thompson, who played for Queensland, New South Wales and Australia, and won premierships with North Sydney in 1921 and ’22 (the Bears’ only titles). He developed into the game’s first Super coach. Naturally there is a large article devoted to Thompson.
All eyes are on Benji Marshall and his return to the New Zealand Test rugby league side after a seven year absence, for the Oceania Cup match against Tonga in Auckland. Marshall is in tears as the national anthem is played, which shows you how much he is humbled by another chance at international football. The Kiwis win 34-14 with halfback, Shaun Johnson scoring two tries. The try of the match is scored by Kiwi hooker, Brandon Smith. How good is it to have just the one referee (Ben Cummins)! The play flows.
in England, the Keighley Rugby League have a heritage project, and one of the recipients of a heritage certificate is former Maitland and Kempsey prop, Keith Pollard, who moved to Australia from England in 1971. Keith is back in the UK these days.
Western Reds hold a reunion ahead of tomorrow’s State of Origin match in Perth. I interviewed the Reds’ Kiwi ‘bad boy, Brendan Tuuta in the lead-up to their match against the Broncos in Brisbane in May, 1995. It was to be his first game for the Reds after a stint with Featherstone in England. The Reds also boasted the likes of (skipper) Brad Mackay, Mick Potter, Brett Goldspink; Queenslander, Jeff Doyle and Tim Horan (not the Wallaby) for the Broncos’ match, which Brisbane won 32-8 in front of a crowd of 32,192.
New South Wales display attacking brilliance in defeating Queensland 38-6 in the return State of Origin match in Perth. Queensland’s only try is a penalty try, scored by centre, Will Chambers. Things do not look good for Queensland ahead of the decider in Sydney. Former NSW skipper, Paul Gallen does a good job as part of the Channel 9 commentary team.
Wayne Mitchell, a popular punter at Stafford Tavern, went to the match by train, and he and his mates went close to setting some sort of record in beer consumption, crossing the Nullarbor. They explored the Margaret River area leading up to the match, and loved it.
Our hospitals are full of flu patients.
Former Bronco, Dave Taylor announces his retirement. Taylor played eight times for Queensland and represented Australia in 2012. He also played club football for South Sydney, Gold Coast Titans, Canberra Raiders and Catalans Dragons (France), as well as Central Queensland Capras, back where his career started. A giant of a man, with amazing pace, Taylor had all the skills, but a lack of application at different times in his career meant he fell short of the heights predicted for him.
1 The History of Toowoomba Rugby League. That’s 1920s Qld rep., Jack Purcell and 1978 Australian rep., Greg Platz on the cover
2 Super coach, Duncan Thompson has a willing audience
3 Fullback, John Cowley chaired from the field after leading Toowoomba to yet another victory in the Bulimba Cup, inter-city competition
4 Manly lock, Lindsay Drake dives to tackle South Sydney’s Denis Pittard. Alan Thompson is the other Manly forward.