DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 18 2020
Covid restrictions have been eased in Queensland, so my wife, Marie and I enjoy afternoon tea (scones) on the banks of the Brisbane River, at Hill End, and lots of other people have the same idea. Blokes on jet skis go by, at a great rate of knots. Read about Cranbrook House for Indigenous Girls, which was located on the banks of the river here, many years ago. All that is left are the steps into the institution. It was a place where indigenous girls came to have their babies, which, were then taken from them, from what I have read.
Former Murwillumbah lass, Elizabeth Charman (nee Pezet) serves me at Morgan’s Seafood, Scarborough. She recognised me as being from Murwillumbah! Marie and I have flathead, chips, cuttlefish and prawn cutlets, while relaxing at Scarborough Beach. We are making the most of the new ‘freedom’.
Radio commentator, Ray Hadley plays tribute to Eric Tweedale, the oldest surviving Wallaby, who turns 99 today. Tweedale had one season in league – with Wests Magpies in Sydney – before being re-instated into union after the War. Tweedale was born in Rochdale, England, a city with a famous rugby league team – the Hornets.
Dual rugby international, Brad Thorn recalls his Broncos’ teammate Shane Webcke smashing his teeth at training, accidently of course. They were ‘roomies’ when the Broncos went on the road, and Webcke, a farm boy, made Thorn watch ‘Landline’ on the ABC.
Bob Dimond, the baby of the 1948-49 Kangaroo tour of Britain and France, and the last surviving member of that group, has died aged 90. I had the pleasure of interviewing Bob, at his Gold Coast home, for Men of League Foundation magazine. Bob was born at Dapto, making his first grade debut for the local club at 16. He was 18 when he made the Australian side. His older brother, Peter played 10 Tests for Australia between 1958 and 1966. I played against Peter in 1973 (for Murwillumbah Brothers), when he was licensee of the Imperial Hotel, Murwillumbah, and turned out for Old Boys.
Also learn of the passing of jockey, Darby McCarthy. My father-in-law, the late Kevin Donnelly, was a great fan.
Former Brisbane Brothers’ rugby league skipper, Trevor Bailey is attempting to compile a comprehensive list of Brothers’ players, and to allocate numbers, just as other clubs have done, such as Norths. I am player number 547 at Norths, courtesy of having played three matches in the official Woolies pre-season competition in 1979. I also played 50 minutes in first grade against Redcliffe, the day they opened Dolphin Oval, but I’m not sure whether that was taken into account. Player number 546 is my good mate, Dennis Moore, a Kingaroy product, who signed with Norths the same night as me. Club president, Bob Bax had us sign letters of intent, on the back of beer coasters, at the club at Nundah. Player 548 is Bob McNamara, who was a promising young forward at the time. I wonder what number I would be allocated at Brothers, where I played in 1976 and ’77.
Marie and I walk part of the Brisbane River, at Teneriffe, past the old submarine base and the former CSR Refinery. One of the submarine classes featured on the commemorative wall, is the Royal Australian Navy’s British built, Oberon. Our son-in-law, Greg Mariotto’s father, George served on one of the Oberon subs.
Lota, on Brisbane’s southern bayside is our destination. Lots of shore birds and soldier crabs. Seven or eight young people film a music video, with drums and guitars, in the back of a four-wheel drive vehicle. A little dog has the time of its life in the shallows. There is a lovely stretch of woodland on the hill behind the esplanade, and we explore.
Learn of the passing of my late sister, Kerri-Anne’s former workmate and close friend, Maureen Forster, aged 83. They worked together in the office at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.
Korean soccer kicks off. Here’s hoping the NRL can start soon. It is 20 years since former Test centre, Justin Hodges made his first grade debut for the Broncos. He tells FoxSports he should have worked harder, as a young footballer. Brisbane printing magnate, Tony Scanlon, a member of the Broncos ‘Thoroughbreds’, was a big help to Hodges, in the tough times.
Former Brothers’ goal kicking ace, George Doniger says Ashgrove Marist College want to re-publish the article I wrote about him, (in Men of League Foundation magazine) in their own magazine. Brisbane MOL, patron, Ron Atkins says George’s father, Joe could kick a ball 60 metres. Ron recalls that noted indigenous sprinter, Garth Sands (real name Terare, I think) had a cafe at Tweed Heads, many years ago. In a race with fellow Tweed indigenous speedster, ‘Boomer’ Slockee, Sands was well beaten. So says Ron, anyway.
Netball great, Vicki Wilson is a new board member at Brisbane Broncos. Her father, Keith played league for Wynnum-Manly.
Mother’s Day in Australia. My wife is suitably honoured by her children, and me, of course.
Australian rock music icon, Normie Rowe is a guest on Macca’s show on ABC Radio. Normie recalls Sydney journalists, such as Jim Oram and Frank Crook. Normie says they were good blokes. I read their stuff, when at high school, and then as a young journalist.
Movies we have watched this week: Equaliser 2, Once (an Irish movie, which is like a cheap documentary); Thanks for Smoking, The Bank Job, Jersey Boys, Unknown, Late Night.
My wife watched ‘Wimbledon’.
1 Bob Dimond (first player from left, middle row) in a New South Wales Country side
2 The submarine walk at Teneriffe, Brisbane
3 Dog in shallows at Lota
4 Marie and Steve Ricketts on Mother’s Day, with grandsons, Connor and Ethan Ricketts.