DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 31 2020
My beautiful, patient, largely understanding wife, Marie (nee Donnelly) turns 70. We enjoy a lovely night at our youngest son, Lliam and wife, Channelle’s Paddington residence, savouring a Zoom session, put together by our daughter, Melanie in Singapore, with a host of relatives and friends involved. Marie and I get emotional watching some of the messages. An example was the Dobson clan from Dover in Kent, with Margie and her adult children, Jared and Hayley putting together a lovely video. It was a job to get them together, with Jared about to leave for work with P & O Ferries, after weeks off because of Covid. Marie also has received birthday cards from overseas friends, including Andrew and Sandy Varley; Terry and Joyce Holmes and Martin and Barbara Richards from England’s north.
The day started with me watching a thriller from the Super League in England, with Leeds and Huddersfield finishing 26-26 after 80 minutes, before Luke Gale kicked the winner for Leeds – a field goal in extra time. Leeds had been down 26-6. There are ‘Black Lives Matter’ banners in the empty stands. Nigerian born, former Test winger, Martin Offiah is part of the SKY commentary team. Also watch a little of Genoa Football and Cricket Club v Verona, Serie A soccer match. Romero is sent off, for not much at all. He declines to go at first.
Marie and I babysat our eldest grandson, Ethan and I took him to a playground at Stafford, via Wilston Grange Australian rules ground, where the Sydney Swans were training. I did my best to shield Ethan from that southern game. Only serious. The thing that stood out for me, as a rugby league person, was the complete absence of Polynesian players.
Queensland Rugby League chairman, Bruce Hatcher, an accountant, rubbishes private equity’s proposed drive into rugby league. Former Test centre, Tony Currie has some great thoughts on the game of rugby league. We have a long chat at his tyre business at Morningside. ‘TC’ reminds me that he roomed with my former Murwillumbah Brothers’ teammate, John Dowling, when ‘TC’ made his Origin debut, off the bench in Game 3 of the 1982 series, at the Sydney Cricket Ground. “‘JD’ said I could have the double bed in our room, and he would take the single,” Currie said. “‘JD’ figured, that as a debutant, I needed a good night’s sleep more than him.” Currie also recounted how the Queensland team doctor botched the stitching of a facial wound Dowling had suffered, and how JD bled profusely at the post match function. “‘JD’ had to go through it all again, and he didn’t even have a pain killer. They don’t make them like that anymore”. 4BC’s Ray Hadley gives TC’s business a plug.
Brisbane Brothers’ stalwart, Bruno Brennan had planned to celebrate his 70th with a gathering at Greenmount Surf Club, but Covid has put paid to that. Former Valleys’ hardman, Kev Tyach, says cyclists on Kedron Brook path wave to him, because he has a rainbow lead for his dog. Go figure. They don’t wave to me, when I am wearing my Roosters’ polo.
Manly-Warringah icon, Steve ‘Beaver’ Menzies is interviewed on FoxSports and in the background are photographs of his two northern hemisphere clubs, Bradford Northern and Catalans Dragons. Former Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys’ forward, Glenn Morrison works at Bradford Grammar as head of athletics.
In Scottish soccer, Callum Lang (Motherwell) is sent off for a cheap shot against a Ross County player. There is an intriguing ad for the Atlanta United Soccer club in the USA.
Ireland beat England in a one-day cricket international at Southhampton. There is an amazing goal by Fulham’s Joe Bryant, to give his side a win over fellow London outfit, Brentford in a (football) championship play-off match.
Queensland Premier, Anastacia Palaszczuk closes the border to New South Wales. She’s been wanting to do that for years.
Learn of the passing of former New South Wales and North Sydney hooker, Ross Warner. Tamworth born Warner played 186 first grade matches for the Bears. In 1964 he was selected as a reserve for the Australian side, in a Test against France at Lang Park, Brisbane, but did not get on the field. The starting hooker was Queenslander, Noel Kelly.
For the first time in many years I have a bet on a horse – in the last race at the Sunshine Coast. I back ‘Simply So’, but it finishes out of a place. That’s it for another 10 years.
Men of League Committee meeting is held at Norths Leagues, Nundah. Chat to old dear on the door about Bishop Park’s reputation as ‘Bashup Park’. Norths’ Leagues’ owner and former Test winger, John Ribot shares a few stories about his former Newtown Jets’ teammate, Steve Hage, and how relaxed he was before games. I played against Steve on the Tweed. I have post-meeting drinks with former Queensland forward, Tom Duggan, and then catch up with university lecturer, Peter Long, who I met on last year’s river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest.
My Pakistani cabbie has been here five years and lives at Taigum, on Brisbane’s northside. He is a hockey man.
My wife, Marie is up watching the Roosters beat the Dragons, with Ballina product, Mitchell Aubusson celebrating his 300th match for the Chooks. Roosters’ legend, Adrian Lam’s son, Lachlan plays halfback.
Learn of the passing of 1960s rock star, Wayne Fontana, whose big hit was ‘Pamela Pamela’. Marie and I saw him perform at Widnes Rugby League Social Club in 1978. Neighbour, Peter Skerman was a bouncer at Matthew Flinders Pub in Melbourne when bands such as ACDC and Skyhooks played there. The biggest problem was the groupies. They would all be grandmothers now. I wonder if they tell stories about their adventures to the grandkids!!
Today is the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Lone Pine at Gallipoli, when seven Australians won Victoria Crosses. Lest We Forget.
A walk around Hendra reveals that an independent hardware shop is still operating, in the face of the (almost) insurmountable challenge of the Bunnings juggernaut. Support your local hardware man, I say. Barber, Charlie Parella is attending to a customer. Support your local barber and not the $10 Chinese cheapies. Hendra High has volleyball this weekend. It is principal’s day – Mr Mann is ‘the man’.
It is 50 years since Tony McMahon called his first race – at Lismore. He is calling at Gladstone today.
On Radio 4BC, Ray Hadley recalls indigenous fighter, Joey Donovan from Macksville. Hadley also recalls that in 1967, indigenous people from that area, became the first indigenous to qualify for their Surf Life Saving Bronze – at nearby Scott’s Head.
Manly and Warriors players find it hard to keep their footing on a wet Brookvale Oval. Maybe they are not wearing the right boots.
Former Gabba secretary/manager, Mike Giles releases the book, ‘Under the Covers’. He recounts an Indian cricket team leaving chicken bones, rice and other food scraps all over the dressing room floor at the Gabba.
Victorians are still flouting isolation rules. A friend says terrorists might be to blame, their aim being to disrupt our society. I have heard crazier theories. Coaching staff member, Allan Langer has been stood down from Broncos’ duties, and fined $5000, after he breached the Covid bubble by attending a function at the Caxton Hotel.
My sister, Gay Lynch has a lucky escape when her car catches fire on the Logan Motorway, south of Brisbane. It was a fuel leak. Two ladies, who had been to a funeral at Beaudesert, give her a lift home.
Our beautiful Singapore based daughter, Melanie Mariotto is 41 today. We don’t know when we will see her and her husband, Greg again.
Nathan Brown, who Melanie thought was cute, when he was a long-haired hooker for St George, has been appointed coach of New Zealand Warriors. Penrith are impressive in their home win over Canberra. Penrith coach, Ivan Cleary says the Raiders were being ‘managed back into the game’ by the referee!! Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence rack up 250 games each for Wests Tigers.
On SkySports from England, former Great Britain rugby league player, Leon Pryce speaks so well about ‘Black Lives Matter’.
A military parade passes our daughter, Melanie and husband, Greg Mariotto’s apartment in Singapore, where it is the national day.
Former Brothers’ goal kicking ace, George Doniger invites me to MC a Kirra Surf Club lunch at Brisbane’s Pineapple Hotel on October 9. My interview subjects will be former Test rugby league stars, John Lang and Rod Morris. George, a Life Member of North Kirra, was a rugby league commentator in the 1970s, and also took supporters’ tours to the UK and France. On one such tour, another prominent electronic media personality, Billy J Smith was part of his group.
Cronulla players remember Kevin Hogan ahead of their match against Parramatta at Kogarah. Hogan, 75, played 109 games for the Sharks, before becoming a lower grade coach and then a director. His best season was 1971, when he finished second to South Sydney’s Dennis Pittard on the Rothmans Gold Medal count.
My late sister, Kerri-Anne and her close friend, Carolyn Collis left for the UK, this day in 1975. We waved her off from the tin shed, which was Brisbane International Airport in those days. Also there was Carolyn’s father, Pat, a workmate of mine at the Daily News, Murwillumbah, and a prominent rugby league referee. Pat died in 2010, aged 84.
Our youngest son, Lliam sends an hilarious photo of his boys, Ethan and Connor eating ice cream with a mate. The looks on their three faces are priceless.
1 Marie Ricketts through the ages
2 Marie Ricketts presented with flowers by grandson, Ethan
3 Sydney Swans train at Grange, Brisbane
4 Gay Lynch’s car goes up in flames
5 Carolyn Collis (left) and Kerri-Anne Ricketts leave for the UK in 1975
6 Proof that ice cream is good for growing boys.