DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 20 2020
The brewery and a butcher shop on Mt Tamborine have closed. Victims of Covid? Or perhaps their fate was sealed before the virus changed our lives forever. The Tamborine Mountain plateau has always been a favourite for my wife, Marie and I, because of the bush walks, cafes and craft shops. We listen to Radio TAB as we head south from Brisbane, on a day trip, with host, Peter Psaltis and Gerard Daffy talking of great State of Origin moments. Gerard, from Warrnambool in Victoria, said he didn’t know rugby league existed, until he moved to Alice Springs to help start up Centrebet in 1993.
Two uniformed police officers patrol Tamborine’s ‘Gallery Walk’, checking on social distancing, no doubt. Marie and I choose the Curtis Falls track, and it is busy. So many people just want to get out and about, and be at one with nature. Marie buys rhubarb from a roadside stall before we head back to Brisbane.
Neighbour, Len O’Brien went to the 1966 rugby league Test between Australia and Great Britain, when he was a student at Brisbane’s Padua College. I was on the terraces as well, with my father, Jon, and brother, Jeffrey. Len said there were tensions between students of Padua and state high school, Kedron (both league schools at the time), with name calling a common occurrence when their paths crossed in the streets.
Australian Rugby League legend, Mal Meninga features on ABC Television’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, which explores his family background. Mal has promised to erect a headstone to his grandfather, surname Tanner, who married a Kelly, at Bauple, near Maryborough in Queensland.
Former Australian Test centre, Greg Inglis, who previously announced his retirement, reveals he will play for Warrington in England in 2021. Inglis’s former South Sydney teammate, Englishman, Sam Burgess, says he is surprised – he had no idea ‘GI’ was contemplating a comeback, but says he will be a sensation in Super League.
Beaudesert based, former Queensland forward, Keith Gee contacts me, looking for vision of his appearance for the Maroons against New Zealand at Lang Park, in 1987.
Chipsy Wood Oval at Yeronga, home ground of Souths’ rugby union, is the starting point for Marie and I today. We walk down Honor Avenue, in Yeronga Memorial Park, over the rail line to a riverside park, and back past Yeronga State School, which has a Vietnamese Street Food Cafe opposite. One of my colleagues in the sports department at the Brisbane ‘Telegraph’ (I will not name him) called it Gypsy Wood Oval, in a story he wrote back in the 1980s. ‘Chipsy’ Wood was a Queensland representative rugby union forward, who went on to become Souths’ club secretary.
Harry Moore, manager of our town house estate, Hermitage Gardens, says his dad was a patron of Kirra Surf Club, on the Gold Coast. I was a member of Cabarita Surf Club, on the Tweed Coast, in the early 1970s. Neighbour, Len O’Brien refers to Cabarita as shark alley. I recall one shark alarm while on patrol there, and one of our members rowed out on a surf ski, through large waves, to frighten the shark off.
John Loft, licensee of the Gem Hotel at Alberton, south of Brisbane, chats to me about his late father, Jack’s rugby league and tug-of-war photo collection. Jack was licensee of the Stones Corner pub in Brisbane for many years, and it was the home base of Easts’ Tigers rugby league before their own leagues club, and remained a popular hangout for players for many years after that. I remember the place going off after the Tigers won the 1983 Brisbane premiership.
Former Queensland State of Origin skipper, Trevor Gillmeister is conducting a fitness class on the top of Constitution Hill, as Marie arrives on her morning constitution.
Historic Parramatta pub, the Royal Oak, has been demolished as part of the light rail project. The pub used to boast a mural of Parramatta rugby league greats.
Surnames ‘Dover’ and ‘Lobegeiger’ feature on the war memorial at Fassifern Valley town of Boonah. A colleague at the Brisbane Telegraph in the late 1970s was Bruce Dover, from Boonah, who went on to bigger things in the media, with News Corp and CNN. Peter Lobegeiger was a goal kicking winger/centre, who played nine games for Queensland in 1967-68. Lobegeiger represented Ipswich against France in 1964, from the Railways club, playing in the centres, where he lined up against Jean-Pierre Lecompte from Saint-Gaudens. France won 20-15, but Lobegeiger scored a try. The first time I heard of Boonah, was in the early 1970s when I was a young journalist at the Tweed Daily News at Murwillumbah. Fassifern had an annual potato festival, and they sent a representative of the organising committee to Murwillumbah, to get tips from the successful Tweed Banana Festival. Marie buys lamb shanks, sausages, osso bucco and ham from Elite Meats. Doing our bit for regional economies. We undertake two small bush walks on nearby Mount French, where two female National Park Rangers are working. Drive home via Moogerah Dam and Aratula, where we buy bananas and Stanthorpe strawberries.
Our youngest son, LLiam has a business lunch at an East Brisbane, Japanese restaurant, and says it is a surreal experience, after lockdown.
Former Broncos’ Media manager, Trad McLean sends a photo of the 1964 Sydney Wests Jersey Flegg (under-18) side which includes his dad, Mick (Dolly) McLean; future Test five eighth, Tim Pickup and fiery forward, Neville ‘Hornet’ Hornery. Trad has taken a redundancy from the Broncos.
Melbourne born tennis great, Ashley Cooper has died, aged 84. My wife played squash at the sports centre – ‘Coops’ which he set up in 1979, at Carseldine, on Brisbane’s northside, in conjunction with his brother, Terry.
Coldest May day in 100 years at Ayr in North Queensland, where our eldest son, Damien lives. He and his wife, Emma had to go to the storeroom to get the doona.
The annual Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture was supposed to be held today, with former Test hooker, John Lang the guest speaker. But it has had to be postponed indefinitely, because of Covid. FoxSports ‘Rugby League Legends’ features former winger, Kerry Boustead, who played for Manly, the Roosters and Norths in Sydney, after making his Test debut from Innisfail in North Queensland. Kerry recalls a game against Wests Magpies, when he was playing for the Roosters, and Wests’ halfback, Tom Raudonikis rubbed capsicum into the eyes of Easts’ former rugby union international, Ken Wright.
Brisbane band, ‘Powderfinger’ deliver a sensational concert on YouTube.
On ABC Radio, Macca (Ian McNamara) talks about the progressive barn dance. In today’s ‘progressive’ society that would be so uncool. But hey, what a great way to meet the opposite sex. When I think of the progressive barn dance, memories of school socials at Mt Patrick’s Hall, Murwillumbah flood back. I had two left feet, so the girls were always keen to progress past me. ‘Macca’ also plays an interview he did a few years back, with rugby league legends, Norm Provan and Arthur Summons. Arthur died last week.
Former New Zealand Test rugby league star, Olsen Filipaina has released his biography, ‘The Big O’, written by Patrick Skene. Olsen details how Easts’ CEO, Ron Jones gave him a paper bag containing $35,000 cash, when he signed with the Roosters! My former Courier-Mail editor, Michael Crutcher is writing the Darius Boyd biography.
In Singapore, our daughter, Melanie Mariotto, pays $9 for cauliflower, an essential accompaniment for corned beef.
Movies Marie and I watched this week: Bad Education, 42 (a very good baseball movie); Whiplash; The Queen; The Score.
1 Curtis Falls walk, Mount Tamborine
2 Marie Ricketts on Mount French
3 The 1964 Wests Magpies under-18 side. Mick ‘Dolly’ McLean is the skipper with Tim Pickup to his right in the second row. Neville Hornery is the player on the far left in the third row
4 Olsen Filipaina playing for the Roosters.