DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 22 2020
How long has this been here? That is the reaction of my wife, Marie and I as we explore heritage listed Sherwood Arboretum, on the banks of the Brisbane River. It is a real gem, and I reckon many Brisbane people do not even know of its existence. Lunch at Barefoot Cafe, where we have to register, for Covid tracing purposes.
Ray Hadley plays ‘Hayride’ by Australian band, ‘Flying Circus’. Evidently it was banned in New Zealand, in 1969, for ‘suggestive’ lyrics. I saw the band at Murwillumbah School of Arts, in the early 1970s. Only about 50 people attended, which ended any chances of follow up trips by prominent bands.
Jacob’s Well is our Covid boredom buster destination. This sleepy bayside community is accessed, via the cane fields of the Logan and Albert Rivers floodplains, which provide a green belt between Brisbane’s urban area and the Gold Coast. Long may it stay that way.
‘World From Above’ documentary covers Toledo to Segovia in Spain. Marie and I went to Toledo in 1978 during out Kombi van trip around Europe, and then 20 years later I took one of my Kangaroo Supporters’ tours there. (see ‘Holy Toledo’ and ‘My Third Kangaroo Supporters’ Tour’, this website).
At a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest, an ABC News reporter stands beside a bloke, holding a poster which reads: “We’re Sick of Your shit. No Justice. Stop fucking killing us”. Classy stuff. It’s a toss-up as to who has less class – the protester, or the reporter. They’re both probably on the same page.
‘The Courier-Mail’ gives acres of space to Australian Rules Hall of Fame inductees, most of whom, many Queenslanders would never have heard of. The paper has never afforded similar space to the Rugby League Hall of Fame.
Evidently, I am mentioned by 4BC newcomer, Neil Breen and sports guy, Mike Colman on breakfast radio. Something to do with a comment I made in ‘The Courier-Mail’ office when Greg Norman missed out on the Green Jacket at the Masters. It’s funny how they remember that. They were sports department colleagues at the time. I have no recall of it. It seems I made a sarcastic comment about Norman being able to console himself with his riches.
Local (Brisbane) author, Liam Hauser has published his latest State of Origin book.
Bush walk at Camp Mountain, in Brisbane’s west. One brush turkey – the only wildlife we see. A ranger leaf blows the picnic area. I expected a nature reserve to be a place of refuge from leaf blowers. Butcher at Billy’s Meats, Ashgrove comments on my French rugby league track suit top, and mentions the great Puig Aubert.
My former Murwillumbah Brothers’ teammate, Greg Grainger sends a lovely photo of Roosters’ indigenous legend, Ron Saddler, with a youngster (Peter Farrugia) who, had broken his leg , back in the 1960s. The Chooks thrash the Broncos 59-0 at Suncorp. Former Broncos’ media manager, Trad McLean, says there too many young blokes in the Broncos’ team and the Roosters have too much class for unproven youth.
FRIDAY. JUNE 5
Marie and I walk from Sydney Street Wharf to Stamford Plaza along Brisbane’s Riverwalk. So quiet, so sad, in the city centre. A cyclist says ‘ding dong’ and then, sarcastically, follows up with ‘Thanks for sharing’, as he roars by. Mate, it is a narrow walkway where pedestrians are the most in peril. Without a rear-view mirror attached to our heads, it is impossible to detect cyclists charging up from the rear, and, even if you keep to the left, with people coming the other way, keeping to the left, means it is near on impossible to cycle through. My advice. Get off the bike and walk.
I count 18 patrons having drinks in Pig and Whistle beer garden. Last time I was there it was grotty. I imagine it is a lot cleaner in these Covid times.
Former Broncos’ skipper, Gorden Tallis blasts the Broncos after their loss to the Roosters, and bizarrely points out their recruitment chief is an ex-‘glassie’ at the leagues club.
Dual rugby international, Sam Burgess bags England assistant rugby union coach, Mike Ford, a former Great Britain league Test halfback. Burgess calls Ford ‘a snake’, claiming he sabotaged his career during the Rugby World Cup in 2015. Burgess says his heart was not in union.
Chris Lewis, 27, makes his NRL debut for Melbourne Storm. He is a school teacher, born Tingha. Lewis is an inspiration to ‘older’ players. If a club signs a 27-year-old, and gets four years-service from him, surely that is good value. And, believe it or not, many footballers are at their peak in the 25-30 age category, not 18 to 21.
At Q Roasters, a customer comments on what a great game, is Aussie rules. Q Roasters proprietor, a league man, disagrees. A man after my own heart. Here, I will quote Royal Society of Literature ‘Fellow’, and fellow rugby league historian, Geoffrey Moorhouse: “I’ve watched every variety of football and I’ve played two different sorts, and rugby (in both kinds) is much more attractive to me than other versions. For its grace and controlled aggression, for its sweepingly swift movements and its moments of brilliant artifice, for its palpitating climaxes, where one side is pounding at the other for the couple of points that will mean victory, and the adversary is defending as though the end of the world will come with defeat. For all these things, and for many individual shafts of daring and courage in every match, rugby league is incomparably superior to any other winter game.”
On a grassy area near Q Roasters, a robust looking lass sits with her bum crack exposed. Such class.
Former Brisbane Brothers’ secretary, Don Munro recalls his playing days, in particular a match against Gold Coast, back in the 1950s, with Brothers winning 70-0, or something like that.
A Shocking forward pass call robs Manly-Warringah of victory over Parramatta.
Gold Coast Titans have their first win of the year, over Wests Tigers at Suncorp.
ABC’s ‘Macca’, Ian McNamara, reveals that Irish born journalist/indigenous activist, Daisy Bates married Breaker Morant, a drover, who became a folkloric figure in Australian history after his execution by the British during the Boer War. I never knew that. We learned about Daisy Bates, and her work with indigenous communities, when we were at school. Not sure whether she rates a mention these days. Although there would be plenty of indigenous information in the classroom.
1 Roosters’ international centre, Ron Saddler takes time out with a young fan, Peter Farrugia.
2 Ron Saddler (right) and Roosters’ teammate, Barry ‘Bunny’ Reilly
3 The grace of rugby league. Action from a Lang Park match in the 1980s. Bruce Astill (Souths) has the ball. The Easts’ defenders are (from left) Alan Power, Zac Sarra, Mark Payne and Brad Backer.
4 A Salford v Wigan match from the 1960s. Wigan in possession.