DIARY UPDATE: Week 24, 2020

DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER

WEEK 24 2020
It is disappointing to see the small amount of space which ‘The Courier-Mail’ devotes to the passing of Rugby League Team of the Century hooker, Noel Kelly, particularly as he came from Goodna, in Queensland. And the story was written by Sydney based, Phil Rothfield. The paper recently gave an inordinate amount of space to AFL Hall of Fame inductees, men from the back blocks of Tasmania and Victoria, who most people in Queensland would not have heard of. Queensland Rugby League media officer, Michael Hillier asks me to contribute an obituary for the QRL website, and I am happy to oblige.
My wife, Marie and I drive to Spicer’s, Hidden Vale for a look around. Great set-up.
Excellent lunch at Royal George pub, Rosewood, which only re-opened today. The barman is friendly, and the steak sandwich and chips, quality.
Jacoba Brasch, QC., has been appointed to the board of the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools’ Association. She is the daughter of Kevin Brasch, my predecessor as chairman of the QRL History Committee.
Radio announcer, Ray Hadley reads my Noel Kelly obituary. Kelly’s former Sydney Wests’ teammate, John ‘Chow’ Hayes and FoxSports’ Matt Johns toast the life of ‘Ned’, at Collaroy Beach Club.
My former Courier-Mail editor, Des Houghton phones Hadley and says that Ian ‘Ripper’ Doyle carved up the Poms in a match at Athletic Oval, Toowoomba. That was in 1958. The Poms won convincingly, but from all reports, ‘Ripper’ was Toowoomba’s best.
On FoxSports, Paul Kent predicts under-siege Cowboys’ coach, Paul Green will finish up as coach of the Sharks. ‘Kenty’ loved Noel Kelly. “He saw the game through a young man’s eyes,” he says.
Next door neighbour, Len O’Brien and I walk up the road to Keith Rooney’s place, for a few beers, given Keith does not have the confidence, at this stage, to return to the pub for an ale.
On FoxSports, Matt Johns says British league legend, Vince Karalius attended the 1997 ARL grand-final, between Newcastle and Manly, a match I covered for ‘The Courier-Mail’. I didn’t know ‘Vinty’ was there. Newcastle, coached by another English legend, Mal Reilly, won on the bell. I interviewed Karalius when he was in Australia as a guest at the Rothman’s Gold Medal dinner, in Brisbane, in 1980. Former Test prop, Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach pays a nice tribute to Noel Kelly.
Marie and I have lunch with friends, Ray and Val Ebert, in their apartment at Woody Point, Redcliffe. They came on my 2002 ‘Supporters’ Tour’ to Europe, and then afterwards, accompanied Marie and I to the North of England, for a break. 
Queensland University grounds are so quiet, as Marie and I explore the area, after walking across the “Green Bridge’ for the first time.
‘You’re f….d, Darius’ a fan yells, during the Broncos v Knights match at Gosford. Darius Boyd, the Broncos’ fullback, is in his final season with the club, and is not setting the world on fire. Broncos’ forward, Tevita Pangai Jnr belts Newcastle rival, David Klemmer. Newcastle hooker, Andrew McCullough, who is on loan from the Broncos, gives Anthony Milford a facial. Great front-on defence by Knights’ forward, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, a South Newcastle junior. Why do players continue to pick up the kicking-tee? In these Covid times, it is not necessary, as there are no little ball boys/girls. Newcastle win 27-6, which would be particularly gratifying for McCullough.
Eric Hindley, from St Helens, in England, is trying to contact former Test halfback, Tommy Bishop. Eric and his wife, Jean lived at Redcliffe in 1976-77, before returning to the UK. Tom had ‘The Fleece’ hotel in St Helens at one stage, says Derek, who had an engine parts business. I believe ‘The Fleece’ shut in 1986.
Clarice Kaden, a great friend of my late mother and father, Jon and Lola Ricketts, has died aged 87. Clarice and her husband, Don (‘DOK’),  had two sons – Doug and John – five grandkids and 10 great grandkids. Clarice and ‘DOK’ were such great company, always full of life, and funny, in a nice way. It felt good to be around them.
Former Broncos’ forward, Corey Parker, now part of FoxSports, defends the right of the media to ask the tough questions, after footage emerges of Souths’ coach, Wayne Bennett hugging a weeping Latrell Mitchell in the sheds, after the 40-12 win over New Zealand Warriors. The touching scene was raised at the media conference, earning the ire of Bennett, who declared it a private matter between him and the player. Parker was not exactly a great friend of the media during his playing career. It is amazing how things change when players are on the other side of the microphone.
The Warriors sack coach, Stephen Kearney, a Kiwi legend, and put Australian assistant, Todd Payten into a caretaker role.
Noel Kelly’s widow, Chris and family are in the stands for the Wests Tigers v Cowboys match at Campbelltown. The Tigers lead 34-0 at halftime and win 36-20. Cowboys’ coach, Paul Green says he had to keep telling himself not to blow-up at halftime.
It is refreshing to hear interviews with Roosters’ twins, Brett and Josh Morris; and teammate, Victor Radley after the club’s epic 24-10 win over the Eels at Parramatta. They are well spoken, down-to-earth lads.
Des Houghton writes in ‘The Courier-Mail’ that he hopes protestors don’t deface the statue of Wally Lewis, outside Suncorp Stadium. They wouldn’t dare. But he is known as ‘The King’……
While some fans have been allowed back into stadiums in Australia, across ‘The Ditch’, in New Zealand, there is a full house for a rugby union match between the Chiefs and Blues, in Hamilton, with players wearing black arm bands, for a police officer killed in the line of duty.
Marie goes to Bush Care, at Grange Forest. No Billy-tea, because of Covid.
An item on Landline, on ABC television, says the phasing out of leather products, is a boost to the petro-chemical industry. Surely we are not going to let all those cow hides go to waste. The world has gone mad.
The word is that Channel 9 will not telecast the Intrust Super (Queensland) Cup next year. And that the NSW Cup will suffer the same fate.
1 Two of the toughest rugby league players to lace on a boot – Noel Kelly (right) and John Sattler
2 British forward, Vince Karalius sent from the field by Australian referee, Darcy Lawler.
3 Steve and Marie Ricketts (left) with Ray and Val Ebert in Standish, England in November, 2002
4 Steve Ricketts in Lubeck, Germany, October 2002.

One response to “DIARY UPDATE: Week 24, 2020

  1. The Fleece did indeed shut in ’86, or thereabouts, and was demolished soon afterwards. It was a great shame as the place was central to St. Helens social history going back to the 19th century. Most of the big dinners were held there, including send-offs for soldiers going to war and welcomes on their return home, and celebrations of rugby triumphs. Vintage Karalius supped his share in there!

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