DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 31 2019
Former Courier-Mail colleague, Mark Mazzaglia now works at Ladbrokes, Lutwyche, where my former sports editor, Karl deKroo is Chief Commercial Officer. Mark and I chat on the banks of Kedron Brook, as he enjoys his lunch break. I had been to Myers, Chermside to buy new clothes, ahead of the next European trip, to be undertaken by my wife, Marie and I. I was served by a Brazilian lass, who lived in Cork, Ireland, for two years.
Former Cudgen, Brisbane Brothers, Balmain and South Sydney rugby league centre, Graham Roberts sends a copy of a story I wrote about him in 1974, when he signed for Balmain. I was working at the Daily News, Murwillumbah. I had played against Graham the previous season.
Our beautiful daughter, Melanie, is 40. My wife, Marie and I find it hard to believe all those years have passed. I was present for her birth (8.49 a.m.) at Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, where Melanie was delivered by Dr Desmond Dann – 7lbs 10oz. I was so proud, I walked up the road to Queensland Newspapers and dragged workmate, Mark Oberhardt with me, to the hospital, to see our first child. Melanie and her fiancee, Greg Mariotto, arrive in Brisbane today from Singapore. We have a family dinner at Walters Steakhouse. Porter house steak is the most popular with our group.
Learn of the passing of former Courier-Mail editor, Kev Kavanagh, aged 93. He was editor of the (morning) paper when I worked at the (afternoon) ‘Telegraph’ – 1979-84. Also learn of the passing of radio star, Malcolm T Elliott, 73, who had been living in Lismore, on the North Coast of New South Wales. I recall listening to his zany breakfast show, back in the 1970s.
Australian movie, ‘Danger Close’, about the Battle of Long Tan, during the Vietnam war, has hit the cinemas. Neighbour, Peter Skerman, a National Serviceman, says some of the survivors of the battle were hard task masters (and that is under-stating things) when they were instructors at the Canungra Jungle Warfare Centre, in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Melanie’s combined 40th/engagement party at Green House, Howard Smith Wharves proves a wonderful night. Melanie and Greg, along with our youngest son, Lliam and his wife, Channelle go to the casino afterwards, until 3 a.m.
Brett Jones (ex-Queensland Cricket) is senior pathways and performance manager at the Queensland Rugby League. A former Perth boy, he played Australian rules as a youngster.
Former Wallaby skipper, George Gregan tells The Courier-Mail’s Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock that he considered joining the Adelaide Rams Rugby League Club in the mid-1990s. Gregan rates Geoff Toovey the toughest league halfback he has seen, while Ricky Stuart’s kicking game was second to none.
Recovery day (after the engagement party) includes a steak at the Breakfast Creek Hotel (a ‘must’, as part of Greg’s initiation into the Ricketts’ clan); then a slide night (requested by Greg) at Lliam and Channelle’s house at Rathdonnell Street, Auchenflower. (We believe you Steve). We are joined at ‘The Creek’ by Lyn and Tony Harris from Boondall, and their daughter, Cynthia (Melanie’s best friend) and her husband, Gez Friel. A Roosters’ fan in the public bar, grabs me for a chat. We’re everywhere.
Evans Head finish with the wooden spoon in the Northern Rivers Rugby League competition.
1 Melanie Ricketts as a toddler, with her brother, Damien and proud parents, Stephen and Marie
2 Melanie Ricketts (centre) in 2019 with fiancee, Greg Mariotto. Channelle and Lliam Ricketts on the left; Stephen and Marie Ricketts on the right, and Damien Ricketts.
3 Melanie Ricketts (right) and Greg Mariotto with Gez and Cynthia Friel.