DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 32 2020
Leeds’ rugby league coach, Richard Agar is worried the new rules will lead to a touch-and-pass type of game. Leeds had just been thrashed 48-0 by St Helens, when he raised his concerns on SkySport. Welshman, Regan Grace scored three tries.
Melbourne Storm forward, Christian Welch’s is interviewed on FoxSports’ NRL360, and it is refreshing to hear such an intelligent, lucid young man, representing the 13-man code. He is a former Villanova College (East Brisbane) student. Plasterer, Kerrod Lalor, who is doing some work in our Hermitage Gardens town house estate, says his dad played league for South Sydney.
When I first came to Queensland to live, in August, 1975, there were two beers – XXXX and Carlton – and they were both full strength (although there was a beer strike on at the time, so people were drinking whatever they could get, even Southwark). Both XXXX and Carlton had their following, with XXXX far and away the most popular. Some drinkers would never set foot in a Carlton pub, and others would not go into a Fourex establishment. My mate, Ray Ebert, a born and bred Queenslander, said his dad drank at the Bald Hills Pub (in Brisbane’s north) until it became Carlton. Ray said the Farquhar family (now of Caxton Hotel fame) had the Bald Hills at one stage.
On the recommendation of chiropractor, Sandy Clarke, I have a massage. I go to ‘No More Knots’ at Newmarket, where my therapist is Adrianna. Her husband is from Kalbar, in the Fassifern region, and they have a 14-year-old daughter, who attends Kedron High.
American singer, Trini Lopez dies, aged 83, from the effects of Covid. I loved his version of ‘If I had a Hammer’.
Brisbane Brothers’ ‘old boys’, and a few interlopers, gather at Full Moon Hotel, Sandgate for ‘morning tea’. Burdekin product, Clem Hovi’s promising career (at Brothers) was effectively cut short in a tackle by future Broncos’ chairman, Paul ‘Porky’ Morgan (Wests), which left Clem with a shocking compound fracture of the ankle. Clem came back – in fact I played alongside him in 1976 – but he was never quite the same. He has his arm in a sling at the pub, following shoulder surgery. Former Brisbane representative lock, Wayne Abdy tells the story about his match race with South Sydney legend, Ron Coote at Lang Park in 1968, just before the challenge match between Brisbane premiers, Brothers, and Sydney champs, Souths. Abdy won, much to the embarrassment of the sponsors, who had already made out the cheque to Coote. Others in attendance at the Full Moon, include former Australian forward, David Wright; Len Dittmar, John Short (Brothers), Peter Affleck, Ron Gurnett, Tom Duggan (Valleys), Allan Nunan (Norths and Redcliffe), Steve Farquhar (Norths and Easts) and Lew Platz (Queensland, Australia, Toowoomba, Wynnum-Manly, Penrith, Parramatta). John Short is related to former ‘Courier-Mail’ best and fairest winner, Jason Bulgarelli. ‘Shorty’, a publican, followed the 1994 Kangaroo tour of England, with a Penfolds Wines group.
Learn of the passing of former Murwillumbah Brothers’ skipper, Noel Mills.
My wife Marie hates the Maccas ad where the car, driven by a woman, reverses out the driveway at a great rate of knots. Marie argues it is a bad look, because, in real life, a child could have been scootering along the footpath and would have been wiped out. It seems few people find anything wrong with this, but love to be outraged by what might be termed ‘Aussie humour’.
The Courier-Mail’s Peter Badel, who has been a league writer for 23 years, is a guest on Ray Hadley’s radio show, talking about recent dramas at the Broncos. Badel says things are the worst he has experienced (at the Broncos) since he came to Brisbane from Sydney 14 years ago. He worked alongside me, from 2008, until my retirement at the end of the 2012 season. The Broncos have been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Our eldest son, Damien flies in from Townsville, to catch up with family and friends.
Former Brothers’ teammate, Noel Russell phones, out of the blue, from Capalaba dogs, where he is alongside former ‘Courier-Mail’ greyhound writer, Gary Keep. They just want a chat. Noel’s son, Jay, a handy footballer himself (with Brothers), has three daughters.
Former Queensland star, Col Weir’s son, Ben sends me a thankyou email, re obituaries I wrote about his father. Ben says his dad was proud to be a Queenslander, “until the final whistle”. Not many people bother to say thanks, for articles I write, but many are quick to point out mistakes. Former Queensland State of Origin rep., Adrian Vowles is a great fan of Robert Bergin’s book, ‘Maroon Mentality’.
Our sons, Damien and Lliam catch up at the Breakfast Creek Hotel for a steak, a great Brisbane tradition. My dad went there for the first time, in 1960, when he was starting out with the Shell Oil Company, while I made my ‘debut’, soon after joining the ‘Telegraph’ in August, 1975.
I spend most of the day writing an article about Lionel Morgan for Men of League Foundation magazine. It is 60 years since Lionel made his Test debut for Australia – from Wynnum-Manly – in so doing becoming the first indigenous man to play league for his country. Brisbane Telegraph league writer, Harry Jefferies, in his 1959 yearbook, described Morgan as the greatest drawcard since the post war days of ‘turn-on-a-penny’ winger, Len Kenny.
Marie and I check into Spicer’s Peak Lodge, Maryvale for three nights. It had hailed there the night before. We drive there, via Aratula, where we have the obligatory meat pie. The Fassifern (local) paper is on sale for $1.50. I hope the locals support it. The front page carries a story about shade trees in Boonah’s main street, and the prospect of some of them being cut down, as part of a redevelopment.
Our private lodge at Spicer’s Peak has great views. Before dinner, we are taken on a lovely walk of the perimeter of the property and plateau, by excellent indigenous guide, Melissa. Head chef at the Lodge is Dean Alsford. I have gnocchi for main course, and Marie barramundi.
1 David Wright addresses other former Brisbane Rugby League players at Full Moon Hotel, Sandgate
2 Brothers, Lliam (left) and Damien Ricketts at the Breakfast Creek Hotel
3 The view from our lodge at Spicer’s Peak
4 Melissa, our guide, at Spicer’s Peak
5 Inside the main Spicer’s Peak Lodge
6 Some people arrive at the lodge in style.