DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 27 2020
Former Brisbane Souths’ rugby league forward, Eric Pappas doesn’t like the new look rugby league. “It is like touch,” he says, as he cuts my hair at his Stafford barber shop. All the talk at the shop is about how poorly the Broncos are faring. The bloke after me is a South Sydney supporter, his family having come from Redfern. Eric says former Brisbane Souths’ president, Tony Testa’s son, Peter played junior league with Brothers, before switching to his dad’s club, but kept dislocating his shoulder.
Former Brothers’ secretary, Don Munro tells a few ‘war stories’, at Stafford Tavern, about Brothers v Norths derby games, a couple of incidents involving Norths’ hitman, Shane Bernardin, one featuring a memorable clash with indigenous Brothers’ forward, Noel ‘Chips’ Harrington.
My wife, Marie and I drive to Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park to spend a few nights with our youngest son, Lliam and his little boys, Ethan and Connor. We drive via Kingswood Park Butchers at Palm Beach, a business which has been serving the area since 1971. The meat is quality. A family, of Indian descent, in the cabin next to us, have a go at Lliam for parking his golf cart in their bay. It was a cleaner’s cart, which should have been obvious.
Emergency service lights are flashing at Palm Beach, as we walk to mouth of Tallebudgera Creek. It turns out that Olympic snow boarder, Alex Pulljn has drowned, while snorkelling.
Ethan and Connor are thrilled to pieces after catching a bream each, even if they had to throw the fish back, because they are under-sized. A pelican closes in on the boys, as they catch the fish, and of course, we nickname him ‘Mr. Percival’, after the pelican in the Australian movie, ‘Storm Boy’. I showed Ethan a clip from the original, 1976 version.
State of Origin 3 should have been played in Brisbane tonight. Bloody Covid.
The Portuguese tarts from Custard Canteen are to die for. The old lady across the road from our cabin, bought her small home – which is inside the boundaries of the tourist park – 20 years ago, after her husband died. She has 22 grandkids.
The Roosters are ruthless in their big win over the Cowboys, with Central Coast (NSW) product, Matt Ikuvalu scoring five tries. Boondall school teacher and noted rugby league contributor to Queensland Times (Ipswich) newspaper, Michael Nunn mentions journalists, Barry Dick, Jack Craig, Robert Craddock, Tony Durkin and yours truly as some of the men who helped him fall in love with rugby league, as a youngster.
Lliam catches up with his good mate, Alex Wheeler, who is in training for his first fight in the ring.
A woman walking her dog, drops the poo bag in the garden at Palm Beach Shopping Centre, Mawarra Street. Such class, but her act of indifference to the environment, and others, is not rare. I wrote, in this diary some years back, that dog poo bags were ‘the new litter scourge’. Enjoy my morning coffee, looking out to sea, sitting on a chair. which commemorates Nathan ‘Beaver’ Jager, who was 38 when he died. He was the life of the party, evidently, but depression got him, in February, 2013.
Marie, Lliam, the boys and I walk from West Burleigh, into the bush, past Fleay’s Fauna Reserve, and then enjoy a picnic lunch in Shiel Park. A lady with a three-legged dog, named Jilly, goes by, as we fish. ‘Jilly’ was attacked by a Great Dane, in the front yard of their home, nine years ago. “Our princess has had a wonderful life,” the lady says, and ‘Jilly’ certainly appears happy.
One of England’s 1966 World Cup soccer heroes, Jack Charlton has died, aged 85. When I think of Jack, I think of the front page of the first edition of ‘The Game’ magazine, which my parents subscribed to, on my behalf, in the late 1960s. It showed Charlton in a moment of contemplation, after England beat West Germany, in the final at London’s Wembley Stadium.
The funeral of noted rugby league player, administrator and talent scout, Tom Searle is held at Seagulls Leagues Club, West Tweed Heads and is live streamed. Tom’s son, Michael, the inaugural CEO of Gold Coast Titans, delivers a lovely eulogy. Michael had asked me to contribute a few words about his dad, and I was only too happy to oblige. Those in the congregation include former Test hooker, Elwyn Walters; former Gold Coast halfback, Geoff Bagnall; former Cudgen prop, Peter Leslie; former Manly-Warringah winger, Mick ‘Dolly’ McLean and his son, Trad, just to name a few. FoxSports commentator and former Australian player, Ben Ikin, a former Seagulls’ player, and a great friend of the Searle family, is the MC, for the want of a better term. Ben is being mentioned as the next Broncos’ CEO.
Greg Little sends me a photograph of the 1965 Queensland team, which includes his dad, Lloyd, who had a stint playing on the Gold Coast.
Forbes’ product, Charlie Stains makes a great debut on the wing, for Penrith, scoring four tries against Cronulla at Kogarah. A stack of his mates are there, and it makes for great television viewing, seeing them cheering him on. Mixed emotions from the publican of the ‘Post Office Hotel’, Forbes, who had offered patrons free beer, each time Stains scored a try.
The Broncos have a much-needed win, over the struggling Bulldogs.
St George Illawarra’s English forward, James Graham says his dad came from Maryport, in Cumbria, a rugby league stronghold on England’s north west coast. When James went to primary school in Liverpool, he was the only ‘egg chaser’ in the school, with the rest of the pupils, football (soccer) players. St George’s former Redcliffe forward, Josh Kerr scores a try against Manly, off a blatant forward pass from Ben Hunt.
Former Warriors’ rugby league player, Ngani Laumape is making a big impact in rugby union, playing for the Hurricanes.
1 Tallebudgera Creek
2 Tallebudgera Creek sunset
3 Lliam Ricketts and his sons, Connor (left) and Ethan, fish as ‘Mr Percival’ approaches
4 Tom Searle makes a speach, after captaining Tweed Heads Seagulls to victory over Murwillumbah Brothers in the 1973 Group 18/Gold Coast grand final, at Murwillumbah. Group president, Stan Sercombe is also in the picture
5 Tom Searle (centre) in action for Seagulls against Brothers at Murwillumbah Showgrounds in 1972. Rival captain-coach, Jack Nardi is on his right
6 Jack Charlton on the cover of the very first edition of ‘The Game’ magazine.