DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 50 2019
There are reports Australian Rugby League back, Latrell Mitchell may switch from the Roosters to South Sydney, one of the reasons being Souths’ ‘greater affinity’ with the indigenous community. But the Roosters have strong links with our First Nations people, given the contributions of players like Ron Saddler, Bruce ‘Larpa’ Stewart, Arthur Beetson, Eric Ferguson, John ‘Chicka’ Ferguson, Matt Sing and Shannon Hegarty.
Wynnum-Manly’s official historian, Paul Comber says Lionel Morgan, the first indigenous man to play rugby league for Australia, acted as a counsel for Indigenous kids from the district, and on Stradbroke Island, who had to front court at Wynnum. Paul visits our place at Grange to borrow scrapbooks and photographs for Wynnum’s history website, ‘Seagulls Forever’.
Men of League Brisbane Committee member, Reg Green produces amazing video footage from a rugby league Test between Australian and France in Paris on January 18, 1964. There was some real ‘biffo’, and one French player had his shorts (deliberately) ripped off, by an Australian rival.
Jason Hanna contacts me about his father, Peter, who played first grade for Norths in Brisbane, and who I played against, when I was a young footballer running around with Brothers at Murwillumbah, in 1971. Peter, who was captain-coach of Mullumbimby, now lives in the Northern Territory. Jason is after photographs and stories from his dad’s career.
There have been thefts in streets near us at Grange, and, in one instance, a woman found a stranger asleep in her car!
I have dinner with university lecturer, Peter Long, at Norths Leagues. My wife, Marie and I met Peter on our European river cruise earlier this year. He is in the middle of marking exam papers. His father was in Z Force during World War II. At one stage Z Force members planted mines on American ships in Townsville Harbor, as part of a training exercise. The Yanks were not amused.
Metro West are playing Central Queensland in junior cricket as I walk past Shaw Park, Wavell Heights. Two Metro boys had got centuries, one the son of a Zimbabwean couple, who lived in the UK for 10 years, before moving to Australia. I count 20 plovers on the hockey fields. That’s plovers, not hockey players. Two young blokes and a girl are swimming in Kedron Brook, at Kalinga. Braver than me.
At Norths, I chat to club stalwarts, Peter Fraser and Kevin Carmichael, before picking up my car. They tell me former Norths’ star and New Zealand’s Player of the Century, Mark Graham, works for the Gladstone Port Authority in Central Queensland.
Visit former Courier-Mail colleague, Paul Malone in the Princess Alexandra Hospital spinal unit, where he has been for many months, following a fall. Broncos’ legend, Gorden Tallis had visited Paul recently, and Allan Langer and Brent Tate had sent videos. Paul wrote the Langer and Tate biogs.
Controversial ‘sports scientist’, Stephen Dank contacts me, after hearing of the passing of Valleys’ legends, Hugh O’Doherty and Ross Threlfo. Dank was a strapper for Valleys, as a young man, and his father, Carl played for the club. Stephen calls Jim House, one my fellow patrons of the Stafford Tavern, ‘Uncle Jim’.
Former New South Wales Country rep., Barry McConnell, a champion halfback from the Tweed Valley, is laid to rest today. He was 90. I remember watching him play for Cudgen, and he was all class. Future Test halfback, Barry Muir left the Tweed in the late 1950s, because McConnell was in front of him.
Demographer, Bernard Salt says Australia is breaking down into tribes. Perhaps his article was motivated by the fact a Muslim Uber driver had kicked out a couple, who had won a ham, at their local licensed club, and wanted to take it home in his vehicle.
In Scots’ soccer, a ‘fan’ throws a glass bottle at Croatian, Borna Barisic, from Rangers, in a match against Hibs. Lovely. The Turkish Football Federation is fined after its players give military salutes, after scoring goals.
My brother, Andrew spends the night at our place, and, after drinks at Stafford Tavern, we watch 1975 rugby league Test between Australia and England from the SCG, a match which finished 10-10. Terrible news from England that former Great Britain halfback, Rob Burrow, has motor neuron.
Andrew and I visit the youngest member of the family, Stewart, at his place at Runcorn, where he is having a sausage sizzle, washed down with Estrella. Stewart works at Dan Murphy’s, Sunnybank. His little nephew, Omar, loves rugby league, and says he is faster than a cheetah. Stewart’s niece, Isabell has just finished Year 10 at Mansfield High.
Our eldest son, Damien does his first patrol with Ayr Surf Life Saving Club at Alva Beach. His daughter, Parker picks up a cone shell, but quickly drops it, when a crab comes out.
1 Bruce ‘Larpa’ Stewart
2 Eric Ferguson
3 1952 Tweed Premiership winning Cudgen team. Barry McConnell is vice-captain, third from right, seated.
4 Andrew Ricketts enjoys an ale at Stafford Tavern.