DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 4 2020
Iconic Queensland broadcaster, John McCoy thanks a myriad people for their messages of good will, following his naming in the Australia Day Honors. He recalls some of his favorite moments in sport, including the 1958 rugby league Second Test between Australia and Great Britain at the Exhibition Grounds; Donald Bradman batting at Perry Park; Some of Hall of Fame race horse, Tulloch’s wins in the 1950s and ’60s and Vince Curry’s great calls of those races – all when John was a youngster, of course.
Top journalist, and former rugby league referee, Bernie Pramberg says John’s call of the 1981 Brisbane Rugby League grand final – between Souths and Redcliffe – was a classic.
Queensland Rugby League digital people take me to Rosalie Theatre’s Blue Room for a dry run of a planned State of Origin special, ‘Masters of a Decade’, in which I will be involved as ‘moderator’. While there, we see preview of movies -1917, Parasite and ‘No Time to Die’, a James Bond movie, with scenes shot at Matera in Italy, where my wife, Marie and I stayed in 2017.
Back home, I watch John Wayne movie, ‘Big Jake’.
At Ayr, in the Burdekin region of North Queensland, our eldest son, Damien and his family are housebound because of flash flooding.
Queensland Origin legend, Wally Lewis is among those to congratulate John McCoy on his career. Wally recalls the great lunches he had with Brett Kenny and John, when they were commentators for FoxSports.
Back to School, and it is lovely to see a dad taking a photograph of his three kids, who are all in uniform.
Wallaby rugby union star, Israel Folau signs with French rugby league club, Catalans Dragons.
The accolades come thick and fast for John McCoy, with fellow commentators, Pat Welsh and Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin phoning today.
I have my first filming session in the Blue Room of the Rosalie Theatre. The lady at the cinema loves the process, even though she is not a league fan. The concept is based on FoxSports engrossing look back at big games. Fox invited players from these games to view the action and to make off the cuff remarks. My (off camera) job was to keep the conversation rolling.
Justin Hodges came to the theatre from a coaching and development assignment at Loganlea State School, and was ribbed about his boxing prowess by Darren Lockyer. ‘Locky’s son has started the school year at Gregory Terrace.
Former Queensland forward, Dan Stains is writing a book. He phones me for information about former Queensland and Brisbane Brothers’ forward, the late Steve Carter.
Controversial centre, Joey Leilua reveals details of his ‘bust-up’ with Canberra Raiders coach, Ricky Stuart last year. Ricky had every right to be filthy with him, because he is an undisciplined footballer.
Former Wallaby skipper, Andrew Slack; noted race caller, Johnny Tapp and former Australian cricketer, Ian Healy all play tribute to John McCoy. I attend John’s last broadcast, at Gallopers Club, Ascot. Channel 7 the only television station there to cover John’s farewell, which I think is sad, unless of course, they were sharing their stuff with the other stations. John’s co-commentator, Paul Sawtell is very emotional. I chat to former Wallaby and Sydney Roosters’ rugby league centre, Michael Cook, who is there with his two sons. I played touch with Michael, many years ago.
Learn of the passing of Brisbane Brothers’ rugby league stalwart, Joe Borg, who was a passionate about coaching, and did a great job.
National radio identity, Ray Hadley has announced he will not be part of the ‘Continuous Call’ weekend league talk show this year. Also standing down is legendary former player and coach, Bob Fulton.
FoxSports look back on the Super League rebellion of 1995. I was in the thick of it, in ’95, reporting on developments for ‘The Courier-Mail’.
US president, Donald Trump is labelled racist for banning flights from China, a move aimed at protecting the American population from Covid 19.
Mal Meninga, Rohan Hancock and Greg Dowling are my interview subjects at the filming of ‘Masters of a Decade’ (1980s) at Rosalie Theatre. Rohan tells me he rejected a $1,000 a match offer from Canterbury-Bankstown supremo, Peter ‘Bullfrog’ Moore to play the last 10 rounds of the 1980 Sydney premiership. “Training was too hard,” Rohan said. “I stayed at Warwick”. Rohan is working as a meat buyer for a Morningside (east Brisbane) company, and still lives at his home town, Killarney. Greg Dowling is standing as Mayor of Townsville.
A bloke phones Macca (Ian McNamara) on ABC Radio to talk about the iconic Duke of Edinburgh International Award, which is available to 14 to 24-year-olds. Good to see it is still running.
My wife, Marie watches Australia v Mexico softball match and one of the commentators is legendary former Australian player, Joyce Lester. I played for a media team in a promotional softball match against Queensland at Holloway Field in Brisbane, with Joyce captain of the State side. They took pity on us, after quickly assessing that we were hopeless.
In Sevens Rugby in Sydney, a Spanish player shows enormous courage to get back to his feet, to smash a runaway Samoan. The Spaniard was bloodied and clearly struggling as he was treated by a trainer. Irish player, Jordan Conroy from Tullamore shows amazing pace.
My wife’s brother, Kevin Donnelly visits our place at Grange, and brings a fresh supply of mangoes.
Every house hold in Singapore gets four face masks, in the battle against Covid19. Events are being cancelled. Things are in a bad way in Hong Kong.
1 John McCoy’s farewell broadcast. John is third from left
2 Matera, Italy
3 Queensland State of Origin passion
4 Back to school photos are always a hit. Siblings, Lliam, Damien and Melanie Ricketts in the 1990s.