DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 38 2020
Former Australian rugby league hooker, John Lang tells me of his love of biographies. John will deliver this year’s Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture. ‘Langy’ says he enjoyed Kevin Rudd’s biog. I don’t think I’ll bother with that one.
ABC Radio’s iconic 7.45 a.m. news bulletin is no more. The final ‘edition’ went to air yesterday.
My wife, Marie says the work on the Eildon Hill Reservoir viewing platform, is complete. She walks there most mornings.
A controlled burn in Grange Forest appears to have got out of control, because a lot more than undergrowth has been scorched.
Former Bronco, Matt Gillett is shopping at K-Mart, Stafford when I call in, to get a couple of books – ‘James Cook’, by Peter Fitzsimons and ‘Boy Swallows Universe’, by my former ‘Courier-Mail’ colleague, Trent Dalton. Matt has lost so much muscle bulk since retiring, due to neck problems.
My former Murwillumbah Brothers’ teammate, Greg Grainger sends a photograph of the 1971 South Murwillumbah side, which won the Group 18 Gold Coast premiership, with indigenous star, Claude ‘Little General’ McDermott as captain-coach. I played against that team, and they were red hot. Normally a fullback in 1971, I had to play in the centres one day, and marked Gerald Chadburn, like Claude an indigenous star, who I am sure could have played at the top level. I didn’t see which way he went. Greg also sends a photo of the New South Wales Country side, which lost 33-26 to the Kiwis in Newcastle, in 1975, the year I was playing for Wingham Tigers. The only rep game I saw live that year, was North Coast v Illawarra at Taree, with future St George star, John Jansen one of Illawarra’s best, in a convincing win over the locals.
News limited journalist, Paul Kent wasn’t too impressed by what he saw when he visited a Broncos’ training run, earlier in the year. “What a mob of dickheads’, he calls them, on FoxSports.
Former Broncos’ marketing guru, Terry Reader is working for Redcliffe Dolphins, who have high hopes of being next cab off the rank, should the NRL decide to add a team.
Renowned Queensland journalist, Ken Blanch has died aged 92.
Chat to Patrick O’Brien, whose father was halfback for Wests in the 1952 Brisbane Rugby League Grand Final. Wests beat Past Brothers 15-14 in a classic decider at the Gabba. Pat’s youngest brother, Vince played for Brothers in 1987, and I interviewed him a number of times. Vince’s son turned 21 recently. Pat lives at Airlie Beach.
A Broncos’ supporter books into the Windsor International Hotel, where my wife, Marie works in reception. He says a mate put a wooden spoon on the front gate to his house. The Broncos lose 32-20 to the Cowboys, which guarantees them ‘the spoon’.
Rugby league legends, Kevin Walters and Johnathan Thurston are at the Breakfast Creek Hotel, to celebrate the return of the wooden kegs, for which the saloon bar is so famous. The kegs went out of production because of Covid. Walters has met the Broncos about taking over the coaching reins in 2021. So too has former Cowboys’ coach, Paul Green.
NRL Historian, David Middleton agrees with our QRL History Committee that those men who were selected for Australia, without taking the field, should be recognised, in one form or another. At the moment, they are not included in the records. David mentions centre, Ray Morris, who died on the way to the UK with the 1933 Kangaroos. He had an ear infection, which developed into something much worse, and he died in hospital in Malta. David raises the question as to whether Morris should be recognised as a Kangaroo. I say ‘yes’, and it is something I will canvass with fellow members of the QRL History Committee.
People drive past the Broncos HQ at Red Hill, throwing wooden spoons onto the property.
Johnathan Thurston says Greg Inglis should come out of retirement to help Queensland in this year’s State of Origin series against New South Wales, especially as ‘GI’ is training for a stint with English club, Warrington. ‘JT’ also rates the Broncos the worst team in the NRL, and thoroughly deserving of the wooden spoon.
A local artist has her stool stolen, as she takes a break from painting the power box, at the Jean Street entrance to our Hermitage Gardens estate. I mean, can you believe it?
South Sydney belt my Chooks 60-8, with Cody Walker on fire. It is the first time Souths have hit 60 since 1937. My brother, Andrew watches the match in a bar in Vietnam, drinking with a Souths’ fan, from Belfast.
In France, Catalans’ players drive their own cars from Perpignan to Toulouse Airport for a flight to England, after strong winds close the airport in their home city.
Chairman of Leicester Rugby Union, Peter Tom fears clubs will close, with spectators shut out because of Covid. I would imagine that rugby league would be in a more precarious position than union, in the UK.
New Zealand born singer, Max Merrit has died aged 79. Love his music.
Wakefield Trinity are so brave in their loss to Wigan. Wakefield, who had a number of players unavailable because of Covid, go into lock-down immediately afterwards.
Amazing cacophony of sound from dogs barking in our estate, so I am forced to turn up 4KQ, really loud. How do people put up with it? The dogs barking, I mean. Not Russell Morris on the radio. Please, people.
Marie and I have disastrous lunch at Nundah Corner Cafe. I send my chicken burger back twice, as the chicken is pink. I am paranoid about getting food poisoning, after two bouts in the northern hemisphere (fish cakes in Cork, Ireland; tripe in Clermont-Ferrand, France) and a case of salmonella at Coolum, when I was in camp with the Queensland State of Origin side. A dodgy meat pie was to blame on that occasion, and I spent two nights in hospital.
Home from Nundah, via a bush walk at Downfall Creek, a place where Marie often took our children, Melanie, Damien and Lliam when they were little, and I was working.
Brisbane Brothers are minor premiers in their A grade division of the Second Division Rugby League competition. Valleys are minor premiers in the BRL.
Graham ‘Scoop’ Callaghan is a deserved winner of the community award for his work with the Tweed Men of League committee. An honest, hard working journalist, Graham, like me, worked for a time at the Tweed Daily News.
Learn of the passing of former QRL marketing manager, Richard Doggett, who was general manager of Richmond Tigers when they won the VFL title in 1980. Richard, who was president of the Australia Macadamia Society, was killed in an accident on his farm at Numulgi near Lismore in Northern New South Wales. Richard modelled the 1982 (Queensland) Winfield State League program on the 48-page VFL Record. It was a grand idea, but within a month the program was cut back to 32 pages because the QRL couldn’t sell any advertisements. I was editor, and for those first three or four editions, I was filing up to 20 stories. In round 1, I arrived at North Ipswich Reserve ahead of a Jets’ home game, only to discover the programs, of which I so proud, were still in the cardboard boxes which had been delivered there by someone from the QRL. The Jets’ officials said they were too busy to open the boxes. It was only 20 minutes before kick-off of the game against Brisbane Brothers, and thousands of people were already seated in the stands, or on the hill. I could have cried.
Another to have died recently was Peter Bell, who played for Souths at Murwillumbah. He was from the Illawarra originally. I think he was at Souths in the late 1960s, and if I recall correctly, he was a goal kicking prop. Not quick across the ground, but heady. The Leinster Rugby flag flies from a house on Eildon Hill.
I enjoy two beers – American Pale and Staffordshire Red – at Stafford’s Happy Valley Brewery.
On Macca’s show on ABC Radio, a former chef, who worked on Qantas flights to the UK in the 1960s, says kangaroo tail soup was on the menu. They were the good old days. I have never had it, but my father swore by it.
1 South Murwillumbah’s premiership winning side
2 The New South Wales Country side which played New Zealand in 1975
3 Wests’ 1952 Brisbane premiership winning team
4 Happy Valley Brewery, Stafford.