DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 2 2020
Fellow rugby league historian, Greg Mallory tells me former Builders Laborers’ Federation boss, Jack Mundey was a good footballer, and at one stage was captain-coach of Wentworthville in Sydney. He came from North Queensland, where he was a promising player, and was signed by Parramatta, who were coached by the legendary Vic Hey. The green bans imposed by Mundey’s BLF are credited with having saved the historic Rocks area in Sydney.
My brother, Andrew fills me in on a bit of family history – about our uncle, Walter Kelly, who was a barber, and during World War II was a gunner. He died in a nursing home in Toowoomba. I remember my mother, Lola (nee Kelly) talking about Walter. He liked a drink, evidently.
Learn of the passing of former Logan City and Cronulla utility player, Paul Fisher, who succumbed to motor neuron.
Hobart Hurricanes’ captain, George Bailey has to tolerate a rude kid before a match against the Scorchers at Blundstone Stadium, Hobart. George is appropriately sarcastic when he comments to camera, after the boy charges off. I hope the kid’s parents gave the lad a good talking to.
The concept of a ‘supplementary list’, for players chosen for Australia without actually taking the field, is on the table, when a member of our QRL History Committee, Greg Shannon meets ARL Historian, David Middleton in Sydney. ‘Middo’ says it is a good idea, but a hard one to get right.
Marie and I see movie ‘Little Women’ at Newmarket, and it is better than I expected.
My late parent’s great friend, Doris ‘Dossie’ Eichorn has died at Maranoa Nursing Home, Alstonville in Northern New South Wales, aged 89. Her husband, Ivan, a school teacher at Murwillumbah High when I was a student, and also a first grade hockey player, predeceased her. They have two children, Kathy and Max. My parents loved the company of Doris and Ivan, who were neighbours at Bray Park, Murwillumbah in the 1960s. They kept in touch in the decades that followed. My youngest sister, Gay and Kathy were great mates, and similarly my brother, Andrew developed a strong friendship with Max, and they both had an interest in flying.
Former Test centre, Mark Harris has died, aged 72. He was one of my favorite players, and I had the pleasure of meeting him at a Men of League function in Sydney, a few years back. The Sydney Easts’ star was a certainty for the 1973 Kangaroo tour of Britain and France, but went to the USA, instead to try out for grid iron. He got to tour Britain and France with Australia’s 1975 World Series squad.
Former Test forward, Bryan Niebling is a fellow ‘patient’ at Sandy Clark chiropractic. Bryan has given up carpet laying after many years and will work as an orderly at North West Hospital. Bryan and his wife have annual holidays with former Brisbane Brothers’ skipper, Trevor Bailey and his wife. ‘Bails’ never stops reminding Bryan about the 1987 Brisbane grand final, in which Brothers defeated the Redcliffe side Bryan played for at the time. The following year, ‘Bails’ joined St George in Sydney, while ‘Horse’ (Niebling) signed with the Broncos.
Sandy Clark had a good time water ski-ing at Hume Dam on the NSW/Victorian border over Christmas/New Year. He says the bush has already recovered quite well, in some areas, after the fires.
My barber, Eric Pappas had been to Wollongong for National Indoor Hockey Titles, in which his daughter played – in the winning Queensland side. Eric loved the licensed club scene in the ‘Gong, especially the ‘Fraternity Club’.
What an idiot. I am talking about myself. I locked myself in our bathroom for three hours, after the door knob came off, and I could not get it back into place. I had left my phone outside the bathroom (As you should. Come on people, you know you look at the phone while you are on the toilet) and my wife was shopping. She didn’t get back for three hours. I had the transistor radio, so I listened to everything from talk back to Beethoven.
Marie and I to Grange Bowls Club for drinks, where local, Peter Harris tell us about his days in the ACT, playing rugby union with international. Geoff Richardson, a product of Taree rugby league. Peter’s dad was a tram driver in Brisbane. The bowls club has been taken over by Grange Thistle Soccer Club, which has breathed new life into the place, with food vans pulling up on a Friday night and a jumping castle in place for the kids.
Tory Gill, a hospitality lecturer, and the daughter of former Valleys, Toowoomba and Queensland forward, Jeff Gill catches up with my fellow QRL History Committee member, Paul Hayes and I at QRL Headquarters, where Paul and I are sorting through stuff for a display at Charleville. I went to Jeff’s funeral in Toowoomba. I had interviewed him several times, most notably when he was in Royal Brisbane Hospital with a mystery illness in the early 1980s. Jeff was a handsome man, and was a model in his younger days. Tory gets quite emotional when we tell her the Valleys’ Old Boys chipped in to pay for a funeral for number one supporter, ‘Happy Jack’, whose body had been unclaimed in a morgue for six months.
There is a jazz band playing at Newstead Brewery as Paul and I enjoy a drink after our voluntary work. A barmaid wears a t-shirt, which reads: ‘We work for beer’. Going on her efforts, she is being paid way too much. Paul says one of his footy heroes as a young bloke was Brothers forward, Mick Seary.
The Third Test of the 1974 Rugby League Ashes series is on Foxsports. What a great game. I transcribe some of Wally Lewis’s interviews with Steve Haddan, for Steve’s latest book. Wally refers to the fact that he was often woken by league writers from Brisbane’s afternoon paper, the ‘Telegraph’, for comment. That would be me and Bruce Ruddy.
Shocking news from the UK that former Roosters’ and Penrith, forward, Mose Masoe has suffered a severe spinal injury playing in a trial match for Hull Kingston Rovers, and may not walk again. He is such a big bloke, it is hard to imagine him being injured that way.
1 Tory Gill and Paul Hayes at QRL HQ
2 Wally Lewis (right) and Australian Associated press rerporter, Robert Smith on the 1986 Kangaroo.