DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 25 2019
Our daughter-in-law, Channelle says the food was ordinary at a business breakfast at the Convention Centre, South Brisbane, where the guest speaker was former Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop. Julie talked about gender deafness. What’s that you say? Sounds fascinating?
I have two beers at Everton Park Tavern, while my wife, Marie has an appointment at nearby medical centre. There is a Wests Mitchelton rugby league jersey, in the pub’s sports bar.
There is news out of my home town, Murwillumbah that the annual Banana Festival parade is to be cancelled because of terrorism fears. That’ll do me. The terrorists have definitely won, if that is the case. My former Murwillumbah Brothers’ teammate, Greg Grainger’s grandson, Chase has been named captain of a Catholic rep team, for an under-11 carnival in New South Wales.
Former Wallaby, Ben Daley announces his retirement from rugby union. I remember when his father, Phil broke camp with the New South Wales State of Origin rugby league side, to be present for Ben’s birth. That cost Phil his place in the Blues’ line-up.
A chap on Alan Jones’ radio breakfast show says there were 22,000 dairy farms in Australia in 1980, now there are 6,000. My late father-in-law, Kevin Donnelly was a dairy farmer, first at Theresa Creek near Casino; then at Bangalow and finally at Keerrong, near Nimbin. When drought forced him off the land, he got a job at the Norco (Dairy) Factory in Lismore. My uncle Tom Dunne; his wife Ruby and Tom’s brother, Frank had a dairy farm at Stokers Siding near Murwillumbah, and my grandfather, William Ricketts was a rep. for Alfa Laval Dairy Machine company.
Former Great Britain rugby league halfback, Sean Long has been appointed to the coaching staff of Harlequins Rugby Union. I just can’t imagine Long being part of the rugby union ‘set’. The Foreword to his autobiography, ‘Longy’, was written by St Helens’ comedian/actor, Johnny Vegas. Enough said. Chapter 1 is ‘Unsaintly Weekends’, and details some of the ‘jolly boys’ outings’ Long enjoyed with his St Helens’ mates.
Neighbour, Peter Skerman says his good mate, Peter Mahoney had a stint playing with Dewsbury Rugby League Club in England. Dewsbury and Harlequins – you can’t get much further apart than that, and not talking in geographic terms.
Watch Warrington v St Helens Super League match from England, and Saints’ prop, Luke Thompson, a product of the Pilkington Recs. junior club at St Helens, is ‘Quality’. The Armed forces are part of the great pre-game pageantry at Warrington.
Handling is poor in the Parramatta v Canberra match in Darwin, and I put that down to the humidity. It doesn’t matter in Aussie rules, where you can knock-on 10 times in a row, and it is play-on. But in league, the slightest mishandle, especially these days, when refs are so pedantic, means a stoppage, and when you are trying to ‘sell’ league in ‘The Territory’, where AFL rules, it makes things difficult. Mind you, rugby league claimed to be the number one sport in the Northern Territory in the 1960s. Jack Pollard, in his ‘Gregory’s Guide to Rugby League’, wrote that rugby union (and then league) was brought to the Territory by Queensland miners, in the 1930s, and from Tennant Creek north to Darwin, the 13 man code dominated by the time the ’60s rolled round. “Alice Springs, at the southern end of the territory, is more or less an outpost of South Australia, and has, in the past, stuck solidly to the Australian rules game,” Pollard wrote.
Speaking of refs, I couldn’t believe it when one of the two whistle blowers in Darwin (I didn’t take a note of which one – Matt Cecchin and Jon Stone were in charge) was right on the spot when a pass was thrown, but still looked to the ‘touchie’ for confirmation on whether it was a forward pass. Mate. Back your own instincts and bugger the touchies. Let them rule on the sideline and back play, otherwise, ignore them, and, as much as possible, give the advantage to the attacking side.
Newcastle did their best to throw the game away, against Brisbane, but still won 26-12 in front of an appreciative home crowd of 24,397, with prop, David Klemmer dominant in the middle.
Our son, Lliam and his wife, Channelle see the movie ‘Rocketman’ and give it the thumbs up. They dine at the Newmarket pub beforehand and Lliam gives the mushroom sauce the thumbs down.
New Zealand Warriors wear a 1950s style Auckland representative jumper. In 1954, Auckland defeated the touring Great Britain side 5-4 and in 1955 Auckland defeated France 17-15. And France and Great Britain were strong in those days, with the 1955 French side coming off a series win over Australia.
In Brisbane, my former Courier-Mail colleague, Bernie Pramberg is MC at a lunch to celebrate Primary Schools Rugby League.
At Davies Park, West End, Queensland Rangers lose 28-18 to New South Wales Pioneers. These two sides are chosen from the tiers below the Queensland and New south Wales Cups. There are some familiar surnames in the Qld team – Folau, Daunt and McGrady among them.
England v India cricket Test from Edgbaston, in Birmingham, looks like an India home game.
1 Marie Ricketts (nee Donnelly) on the farm
2 Kevin Donnelly
3 William Ricketts
4 Sean Long
5 Rugby League in Darwin, in 1963.