DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 23 2020
The Japanese flag flies from a house at up-market Ascot, here in Brisbane, as my wife, Marie and I walk the area, stopping at Bartley’s Hill Lookout to admire the river view. It is so quiet at Portside, with no cruise ships coming into Brisbane.
Former Broncos’ chief executive, Bruno Cullen receives an AM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, primarily for his services to banking. Also honoured is Townsville born journalist, Sean Dorney, who was Pacific and Papua New Guinea correspondent with the ABC from 1975 to 2014. I met Sean during one of my trips to Papua New Guinea to cover rugby league. A former Nudgee College student, he played league for Queensland journalists, when he was based in Brisbane.
Former Brisbane Brothers’ rugby league player, Dion McCarthy has died, aged 80. He also played for ‘The Brook’ Hotel team, in the old Metropolitan League, I am told. He was a bit of a lad, popular with the ladies in his young days. Good on him.
The Rugby League community also is mourning the passing of Don Duncan, whose son, Gavin played for Valleys during my time as a reporter for Queensland Newspapers. Don, 89, is a Wests Mitchelton legend, and his passing is acknowledged by ‘Mitchy boys’, such as Paul Vautin, Michael Hagan and Adrian Lam. Don played for Kilcoy, at one stage.
Race 1 at Kilcoy today is named in honour of Michael Wrona, 54, who called his first race at Kilcoy, when he was just 17. Michael has worked in the US since 1990. In 1992 his call of a race over there, was used in an episode of Seinfeld. Now that’s fame.
Childhood memories flood back as Marie and I walk Twin Falls Circuit on Springbrook Plateau. My parents took my five siblings and I to Springbrook for bush walks all through the 1960s, when my father, Jon was an area manager for Shell, and based at Murwillumbah. One of the perks of the job was free petrol. I count five tissues on the ground, at different spots. Really! Marie and I drive down a narrow road to ‘Friendship Park’, 40 hectares donated by US servicemen to say thanks for being looked after during World War II.
Watch movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
My first time back at the pub (Stafford Tavern) since Covid restrictions eased. Bar staff deliver drinks. It will keep them fit.
Best bar gossip – Current Bronco, Matt Lodge and former skipper, Gorden Tallis have had verbal exchange at Red Hill; Former Test halfback, Scott Prince, 39, is to make a comeback with Valleys in the BRL; a number of people have taken redundancies at the Broncos, among them Terry Reader, Mick De Vere and David Stagg. Some people think it is a good thing that Prince is back playing, others say he is keeping young talent out of the team.
It is 45 years ago today that England and Wales played a brutal, World Series rugby league match at Lang Park, Brisbane, the Welsh winning 12-7. Australian referee, Don Lancashire had his hands full.
Bush walk at Cilento Park, Nambour, followed by lunch at Mapleton on the Blackall Range. Two more bushwalks before our return to Brisbane.
Marie drops me off at Stafford Tavern. There are 24 people in the public bar, so I have to isolate in an adjoining bar, until the number drops to 19.
So many turtles and fish in Nudgee Water Holes, as Marie and I walk the area. The walk takes us past Banyo Rugby League Club, where our eldest boy, Damien won an under-17 grand final with Norths Brighton, against Capalaba, back in 1997. My former Murwillumbah Brothers’ teammate, Greg Grainger sends photos I took of him passing the football on the Murwillumbah High School Oval, using my Polaroid Instamatic. They were all the rage then, like smart phones now.
On this day, in 1970, Senator Ron McAuliffe was elected president of the QRL, after Doug Duncan declined to stand for the post again.
Lovely river walk at Teneriffe with our youngest lad, Lliam and our grandsons, Ethan and Connor, although speeding cyclists are a worry. Canberra Raiders’ coach, Ricky Stuart sculls a beer in sheds, after his 400th game as coach, a win over Wests Tigers.
Former Maori skipper, Ash Dixon scores the first try of the revamped New Zealand Super Rugby (Union) season, playing for the Highlands against the Chiefs in Dunedin.
Rugby League Team of the Century hooker, Noel Kelly dies aged 84. (see ‘Vale Noel Kelly OAM’ on this website).
The Roosters v Bulldogs match has had to be postponed, because the children of Bulldogs’ prop, Aidan Tolman may have been exposed to Covid at their school.
The 50 year-old Westons’ biscuit factory at Kedron has shut.
2 Referee, Don Lancashire keeps an eye on the mayhem of the 1975 rugby league Test between England (white) and Wales at Lang Park
3 Turtles in Nudgee Waterholes
4 Greg Grainger training at Murwillumbah High School Oval in 1974, ahead of his debut season with Brothers.