DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 25 2020
TOM SEARLE, one of rugby league’s good guys, has died, aged 73. I played against Tom in the 1972, ’73 and ’74 seasons in Gold Coast/Group 18, and then had the pleasure of interviewing him, during his time as a recruitment guru/administrator on the Gold Coast. Tom was one of the founding fathers of the Gold Coast Titans, with his son, Michael the inaugural CEO. Originally from Tamworth, Tom played in England with Keighley. He represented New South Wales Country against City, and received a number of offers to move to the big smoke. But city life was not for him.
‘Courier-Mail’ stalwarts, and former workmates of mine, Jim Tucker, Grantlee Kieza and Greg Davis accept redundancy packages from News Corp.
My wife, Marie and I walk Shaw Estate Park, and then the streets of Wavell Heights.
The Courtney Goodwill Trophy is featured on an episode of ‘The Fan’, on FoxSports. The trophy was donated to the code in 1936, as a symbol of international supremacy. The donor was Christchurch businessman, Roy Courtney, who wished to honor servicemen killed in World War 1, one of them his brother.
My wife’s sister, Carolyn sends a Facebook photograph of Marilyn Frogley, when she was 17, at the races. Marilyn worked briefly as a journalist for ‘The Courier-Mail’, after previously having worked for the Casino based, Richmond River Express. I met her through my parents, who lived next door to Marilyn’s family at Lismore Heights, with Marilyn’s father, Jack, a prominent vet. She came to my 21st birthday party at Lismore’s Italo-Australian club, and I attended her wedding, a year or so later.
Marie and I drive to Dayboro, where we have pumpkin soup at Book Cafe and Marie buys meat and a jar of Lacey’s Creek honey, at local butcher shop. On the way back to Brisbane, we walk at Bullocky Grounds, on the shores of North Pine Dam.
Everyone has a theory about why the Broncos are going so poorly in the NRL, with coach, Anthony Siebold the subject of all sorts of rumors.
There is talk (again) of a challenge match between our Kangaroos and rugby’s All Blacks at the end of the year, to put much needed cash into the coffers of the rival codes. It won’t happen. Former Australian hooker, Ben Elias reveals he wanted to be a Wallaby, because, as a kid, he was infatuated with David Campese. Elias was a wonderful player, but I don’t know where he would have played in union.
A jewellery shop in Beenleigh’s main business area shuts after 11 years, because of drama caused by a nearby methadone clinic. I remember when Beenleigh was a respectable country town.
Channel 7 State Political affairs reporter, Pat Lion says hello at Stafford Tavern. He is there with a reporter from ‘The Australian’. I worked with Pat at ‘The Courier-Mail’. He is good mates with Mick Daly, who was a fellow league writer for a while, but has since pursued a career in law.
I visit former Courier-Mail colleague, Paul Malone in Princess Alexandra Hospital’s spinal unit, where he has been for many months, following a fall.
My Newcastle mate, Greg Grainger sends a photo of centre pair, Mick Cronin and Peter Kennedy who played in Country’s famous 19-9 win over City at the SCG in 1975. I was playing in the bush, for Wingham Tigers at the time, and I remember what a great boost that win gave country people.
A female neighbour reverses her car from her driveway, straight into the path of the car in which my wife and I are travelling. The woman carries on, as if nothing has happened. Fish and chips in Endeavor Park, Newport (Redcliffe) as an old chap goes out on the bay, on his kayak. Afterwards, Marie and I walk in Redcliffe’s Botanic Gardens, but there are too many flying foxes to make the experience enjoyable.
FoxSports commentator, Dan Ginnane compares Melbourne five eighth, Cameron Munster to Australian screen idol, Errol Flynn, in looks! Melbourne belt New Zealand Warriors 50-6, to win the Michael Moore Trophy, named after the former Brisbane Brothers’ player who was football manager at the Storm, and died in a mishap in Auckland.
The last edition of Ipswich’s Queensland Times rolls off the presses, with local rugby league legend, Allan ‘Alfie’ Langer on the front page, downing a beer.
North Queensland halfback, Scott Drinkwater says the Cowboys’ form has been ‘piss poor’, despite a win over the Knights today.
The Broncos are woeful in their 30-12 loss to the Titans. Broncos’ coach, Anthony Siebold sounds like a broken man, at the media conference. Caboolture product, Corey Horsburgh is in tears after he has leg wrenched by Parramatta’s Ryan Matterson. I don’t think it was so much the pain. It was the realisation his season was probably over because he had suffered a serious lower leg injury. Raiders’ coach, Ricky Stuart said there is no need for panic, after the extra time, 25-24, extra time loss to the Eels. His boys are just trying too hard. “I’ve coached blokes who didn’t try,” he says.
Former Queensland State of Origin star, Mitch Brennan is reportedly making a documentary about Origin.
Truck salesman, Jim Herlihy from Kyogle, phones Macca (Ian McNamara) on ABC Radio, to say that some overseas trucks don’t even have Australian air, in the tyres. He says Aussie made trucks from Bayswater, in Victoria, are quality.
The Australian’s Brent Read travels to the wrong ground – driving to Parramatta instead of Gosford, and therefore misses his radio gig. Nice one Brent. I can’t recall ever having done that, although I have arrived late for one or two games, after getting lost.
Wynnum-Manly rugby league historian, Paul Comber tells me there are two remaining inaugural players from the club – Richard Lachlan and Ned Green, the latter the father of Cowboys’ coach, Paul Green. Indigenous player, Charlie Perry was meant to be hooker for the first game, in 1951, but missed the barge from Dunwich on Stradbroke Island. Paul reckons David Fifita will leave the Broncos to join the Titans. Paul also recalls the late Tom Searle signing Clayton Maher for the Gold Coast, on the advice of his son, Michael (Searle) who had played against Maher.
Channel 9 commentator, Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns recalls being sand boy for Cessnock, in the Newcastle competition, and having to take the sand out for Cessnock’s goal kicking, Maori prop, Henry Tatana.
1 Marilyn Frogley (left) and Diane Treharne
2 City’s Tim Pickup beats Country’s Peter Kennedy at the SCG in 1975
3 Mick Cronin (left) and Peter Kennedy, former NSW Country centre partners
4 Henry Tatana, playing for St George.