DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 32 2019
Australians, Craig Young and Danny Buderus, along with New Zealanders, Ruben Wiki and Stacey Jones are announced (on FoxSports) as the latest inclusions in NRL (Rugby League) Hall of Fame. I was one of the judges. I am not entirely comfortable with Kiwis being eligible. I know it is now the NRL Hall of Fame, as opposed to the ARL Hall of Fame, and that Wiki and Jones were two of the greats of the NRL, and that the New Zealand Warriors are part of the NRL. But I believe we should have stuck with the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame, exclusively for Australians.
Also included in the Hall of Fame, in the new ‘contributor’ category, are James J Giltinan (administration); Peter ‘Chippy’ Frilingos (print media) and Ray ‘Rabbits’ Warren (broadcast media).
Former Australian winger, Kerry Boustead turns 60. I saw him play in his first Test series – against the Kiwis – in 1978, on my return from a working holiday in Europe. I first interviewed him in 1981, ahead of the first inter-state match of the year. He and fellow Queenslander, John Ribot were the New South Wales’ wingers, while another Queenslander, Paul McCabe, was in the pack. State teams were chosen on residential lines for the first two matches in 1981. When NSW won both, an Origin game was played to complete inter-state commitments for the season. In 1982, the first, three match Origin series was played.
Our daughter, Melanie and her fiancee, Greg Mariotto return to Singapore after four days of catching up with family and friends in Brisbane, to mark the occasion of their engagement, and also Melanie’s 40th.
Comedian/singer, Danny McMaster turns 65 and 4BC’s Ray Hadley plays Danny’s Rugby League Song. Danny played rugby league for Burleigh Bears, while his father, ‘Wallaby Bob’, played for Australia in rugby union, before switching to league with Leeds in England.
At 8.17 p.m. I hear the fireworks from the Ekka. (Royal Brisbane Show).
Fly to Sydney for NRL Hall of Fame function. My cabbie from home, at Grange, to the airport, is originally from the old gold mining town of Mt Morgan in Central Queensland. His father worked in the mines there, before moving to Tasmania to work in the mines at Zeehan. Beautiful views of the Blue Mountains and Sydney Harbor. I have done the flight to Sydney hundreds, if not thousands, of times, and have never tired of those views. My Sydney cabbie is shocked when I tell him one of my (Muslim) mates in Brisbane, has the occasional beer. The cabbie, who lives at Homebush, says his dad had a farm at the junction of five rivers in the Punjab, and was a hockey fan.
My room at the Sofitel, Darling Harbor is superb. Beers at a Darling Harbor bar, full of people who will be attending the Tim Tszyu v Dwight Ritchie fight at nearby International Convention Centre. There are lot of familiar faces. NRL official, Alison Archer provides me with a lift to the Hall of Fame function (at Carriageworks, Eveleigh) alongside three members of the Giltinan family, and former Australian skipper, Gorden Tallis. Another former Test skipper, Wally Lewis and his wife, Jacqui are in the van for the return journey. Jacqui says people still think their actor son, Lincoln is in the cast of ‘Home and Away’.
It is a lovely night. I chat to FoxSports’ commentator, Michael Ennis about forward passes, no doubt boring him senseless with my view that referees should always give the advantage to the attacking side, in line-ball calls. Also have a long chat with Souths’ CEO, Blake Solly and one of the club’s sponsors. Solly was G-M of English Super League between 2014 and 2016, and is regarded as an administrator on the rise.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman, Peter Beattie, a former Queensland Premier, mispronounces the Giltinan name, several times – ‘Gilatan’, instead of Giltinan. Not good enough Peter. The highlight of the night for me, was the chance to chat to former internationals from the 1950s and 1960s, Harry ‘Dealer’ Wells, Noel ‘Ned’ Kelly and Johnny King. They don’t make them like that any more.
The Scholars Cup, a celebration of the joy of learning, is being held at the Darling Harbor Convention Centre, as I buy my Toby’s Estate coffee. A female in the lift talks about working at the RSL Club at Corowa, on the Murray River in New South Wales. Female newsreader on 2GB mispronounces Peter Frilingos. Must have gone to same school as Peter Beattie.
The Telegraph’s Paul Crawley has an article condemning the wrestling tactics of Melbourne Storm, and he is spot-on with his comments.
My cabbie is from Torino in Italy and has a Chinese wife. He lives at Riverview and insists that his daughter speaks English in the home. She is a scholar, who writes ancient Mandarin. He says Sydney is not the place it used to be, and will not get better. CORRECT. Back in Brisbane, my cabbie is of African descent and lives at Mt Gravatt, where my parents once had a paint and wallpaper shop.
My good mate, Brian Atherton from Taree phones with the news former New South Wales skipper, Tony Paskins has died, at a nursing home at Tuncurry, aged 89. Paskins played rugby union for Easts in Sydney before joining English rugby league club, Workington Town in 1948. While in England, he represented Other Nationalities against England, Wales and France. He played in Workington’s 18-10 Challenge Cup win over Featherstone in 1952, playing a key role in a try by Scots’ winger, George Wilson. On his return to Australia, Paskins played for Easts rugby league in Sydney. He was captain-coach of Manly-Warringah in 1963-64 and also played and coached extensively in the bush, with stints at Oberon, Narrabri and Forster-Tuncurry. He was non-playing coach of Easts in Sydney in 1973. Paskins captained NSW against the touring Great Britain side in 1962, but was overlooked for the Test sides. He was 43 when he played his last season for Forster-Tuncurry, in 1970.
Channel 9 commentator, Phil ‘Gus’ Gould says rugby league may not exist in 20 years, if doctors and lawyers get their way. But UFC will be thriving. (That’s my comment).
Broncos beat Penrith 24-12, with Payne Haas scoring an amazing individual try. Brisbane’s win is marred by a grub-act by forward, Tevita Pangai, who drops forcefully on the head of James Maloney, while the Penrith star is in a seated position. Could have had disastrous consequences. (Pangai gets five weeks).
Before the match, my wife, Marie and I caught up with our nephew, Xavier Ricketts and his fiancee, Gemma; as well as friends, Rhonda Howard and her partner, Alan from Caboolture, in the stadium’s Precinct Bar.
My sister, Gay Lynch enjoys dinner at the Story Bridge Hotel, to celebrate her birthday.
Melbourne Storm captain, Cameron Smith calls the referee ‘mate’ instead of ‘sir’. Some of my old refs from the Tweed would not have tolerated that. Burleigh Bears have a reunion, at which the 1979 and 1999 premiership winning sides are honored. Former Brisbane Norths’ star, Eric Lilley was coach in ’79 and my former Brisbane Brothers’ teammate, Peter McNamara, the skipper.
My wife, Marie and I babysit out grandsons, Ethan and Connor Ricketts, while their parents, Lliam and Channelle enjoy a night out. The boys love Woody Woodpecker videos, something I introduced them to. Sorry mum and dad. ‘Heh-heh-heh-HEHHHH-heh’.
Brunch at Neighborhood Coffee Roasters, Rainworth, is a birthday get-together for Lliam, who turns 35 tomorrow.
Watch highlights of the Bledisloe Cup clash. All Blacks 36 Wallabies 0. The Wallabies are sub-standard, but our NRL boys could certainly learn a thing or two about the basic draw and pass, which the All Blacks have down to a fine art.
The Cronulla (18) v St George Illawarra (12) match is so bad. It appears not enough time is spent on skills work.
On FoxSports, former Storm player, Brett Finch passionately defends the club’s wrestling tactics, in the face of criticism from James Hooper. Go James.
1 Craig Young
2 Kerry Boustead (left) with John Ribot and Paul McCabe in 1981
3 The Print Media
4 Noel Kelly
5 Tony Paskins as coach of the Roosters, with South Sydney import, Ron Coote.
6 Peter McNamara in his Brisbane Brothers’ days.