DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 47 2019
Former Valleys’ premiership winning halfback, Ross Threlfo has died, aged 77, in a nursing home at Ballina in Northern New South Wales. Some of his great mates were by his side as he passed, headed by his halves partner, Valleys’ legend, Marty Scanlan. Originally from Newcastle, Threlfo was joint winner of The Courier-Mail best and fairest award, with future Immortal, Arthur Beetson, in 1965.
I have a long chat to Gold Coaster, Terry Burke, who played rugby league in Ipswich, and played in a curtain raiser to a World Cup match in Brisbane in 1957.
Marie’s niece, Sonya Pope and her husband, Matt have bought a house at Caniaba, near Lismore, where the cricket field is named after former Australian wicket keeper/batsman, Adam Gilchrist, who grew up in the area. Our eldest boy, Damien played in a cricket carnival in Lismore, for a Brisbane North rep side, and Gilchrist officially opened the event. At that time Gilchrist was back-up keeper in the New South Wales Sheffield Shield squad (Phil Emery was the main man) and the Brisbane boys had never heard of him, unlike the locals.
Men of League Foundation Brisbane Committee meets at the Broncos to discuss up-coming Christmas lunch. Committee member, Bob Knight, a former prop forward with Valleys, had watched the Broncos’ opposed training run and was impressed with what he saw. Former Bronco, Corey Parker was involved in the session. I have coffee with Broncos’ media manager, Trad McLean. Broncos’ recruitment chief, Peter Nolan walks by with prop, Matt Lodge. Corey Oates tucks into a wrap. That’s enough train-spotting trivia for now.
I visit Bob Arbuthnot’s house at Carseldine, in Brisbane’s north, on behalf of the QRL History Committee. Bob, who died recently, accumulated an amazing collection of rugby league memorabilia and scrapbooks, and his daughter, Jan Warren and her husband, Ian are keen to ensure it goes to a good home.
Uber has been suspended in London, after 42 drivers swapped photographs. Now, it is politically incorrect, if not downright racist, to make remarks about not being able to tell certain people apart, but!!!! A similar rort has been tried here in Brisbane, as inspectors have discovered on raids of airport cab ranks.
Former Cudgen, Brisbane Brothers, Balmain and South Sydney centre, Graham Roberts texts re. the fund raiser for Tweed Gold Coast league identity, Tom Searle at the Kirra Beach Hotel. Tom, a former NSW Country rep., and an icon of league on the Tweed/Gold Coast, has a brain tumor. Graham was talking to former Cudgen teammate, Graham Lawrence who recalled the day (in 1990) when the Cudgen boys turned up at Lords, seeking to undertake a guided tour of the home of cricket, only to be told they had to pre-book. Graham Lawrence recalled that I saved the day. My Kangaroo supporters’ group had pre-booked (thanks to my efficient organisation) and we had two guides for 33 people. I asked the Lords’ people if one guide could be assigned to the Cudgen lads, and they agreed. Great to see some flexibility at the staid old place. The Cudgen boys, among them Graham Lawrence and legendary hooker, ‘Dixie’ Wilson, were sitting outside Lords, looking dejected when we arrived.
Indigenous activist, Sam Watson has died aged 67. I interviewed him once or twice, back in the days of ‘illegal’ street marches in Brisbane, in the 1970s.
My parent’s (Jon and Lola Ricketts) great friend, Edna May Duncan (better known as Terri) has died in Lismore, aged 95. She was a tiny woman, with a big heart and lots of get up and go. And loved a chat.
Australian satirist , Kogarah born Clive James has died, aged 80, at Cambridge in England. Our eldest boy, Damien comments on Clive’s New Year specials, which I think I ‘made’ Damien watch.
The NFL is on, when I turn on the television, and there is an absolutely woeful attempt at a low tackle by one bloke. When these blokes only have to make, maybe, one or two tackles a game, there is no excuse for an effort like this one, not to mention the money they are on.
Marie and I attend ‘State of Origin The Musical’, the brain-child of iconic Queensland author, Hugh Lunn, at Princess Theatre, Wolloongabba. Co-produced by Gerry Connolly (who is also part of the cast), the musical ‘works’ and confounds some of the critics, who reckoned you couldn’t make a musical about league. I have seen a league play – ‘Up and Under’, at Brisbane’s Twelfth Night Theatre – but this is a first. Those in attendance include former Valleys’ chairman, Dr Tom Dooley; Broncos’ foundation director, Steve Williams; Veteran ABC journo, Kerry O’Brien; former Sunday-Mail editor, Bob Gordon; former Lord Mayor, Sallyanne Atkinson; QRL chairman, Bruce Hatcher and my predecessor as chairman of the QRL History Committee, Kevin Brasch. Steve Williams, a former Queensland five eighth, reminds me he worked at the QRL – in marketing – under former chairman, Senator Ron McAuliffe.
Dr Desmond Dann, who delivered our three children, has died aged 79. He retired early in 2017. A great man.
Also learn of the passing of former Great Rugby League hooker, Tony Karalius, aged 76. Tony was hooker in the St Helens’ side which played Widnes at Wembley in 1976, a match attended by my late sister, Kerri-Anne. He played five Tests in 1971-72.
Christmas Party (degustation lunch) for my wife, Marie’s Playgroup ladies (and their husbands) at ‘Pause’, Samford, goes well. After lunch, we all retire to Dayboro Cottages in the foothills of Mt Mee, and then gather at the complex’s homestead for nibbles and drinks. There are Llamas roaming near our cabin.
Former Wallaby Jules Guerassimoff been is inducted into the QSport Hall of Fame. Jules played rugby league in Rockhampton, before finding union.
Wander the Dayboro Market – plants, rib fillet steak (Midfield from Warrnambool – halal approved – that’s a relief) and 6-pack of local pale ale. Lunch at Old Storehouse (not bad), and then buy a bag of cow poo, just outside Dayboro, for the community garden at our town house complex. Marie has me execute a cane toad at the garden on our return. You have to do one good deed a day.
Learn of the passing a Scots born, Hugh Waddell, who played five rugby league Tests for Great Britain, from the Oldham club. Waddell was man of the match against France at Avignon in 1988. He was only 60 at the time of his passing.
The great Wally Lewis turns 60 today. Lewis played against Waddell in Sydney, in the Third Test of the 1988 Ashes series, a match the British won. Waddell had a stint with Manly-Warringah in 1989.
1 Article about sports devotee, Bob Arbuthnot
2 Marie Ricketts at Dayboro Cottages
3 Tony Karalius is second from right in the front row of this St Helens’ team pic
4 Hugh Waddell is tackled by the French, in Avignon in 1988.