DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
Newcastle was held in the same high regard as Brisbane, when I played rugby league on the Tweed. It was often a toss-up as to which competition the more prominent players in the Group 18/Gold Coast competition would gravitate to. Des Lee and Rex Farrell, teammates of mine at Brothers Murwillumbah, chose Newcastle and signed with Central Charlestown. Another former Brothers’ teammate, Greg Grainger has sent me a copy of a program from a 1972 match between Central and Maitland, in which Rex was in the reserve grade pack and Des fullback in the firsts. Des would eventually move to Brisbane, where he would become a Wynnum-Manly favourite.
Former Queensland player, Billy Moore has had a hip replacement.
“I was absolutely glued to CNN,” says a lass, to two other females, as they walk down the path that divides our town house estate. Three female cyclists break the road rules by turning right from Uxbridge Street into Day’s Road. They would be quick to condemn a motorist who did the same.
I listen to The Corrs’ version of Ruby Tuesday. Love it.
Browsing through a program for the Queensland v Great Britain match at the Exhibition Grounds in 1957, I see that British forward, Thomas McKinney from St Helens, was born at Ballymena, Northern Ireland and played rugby union, for Jed-Forest in Scotland, before switching to the 13-man code. Britain defeated Queensland 44-5 with winger, Mick Sullivan scoring four tries and centre, Eric Ashton three. Brisbane Brothers’ forward, Barry O’Connor was chosen on the bench for Queensland, according to the program, but must not have got a run, because he is not acknowledged as having done so, in Max Howell’s History of Queensland Rugby League.
Over coffee at Newstead Brewery, fellow QRL History committee member, Greg Shannon points out that 13 of the 15 men in the Qld State of Origin squad for Game 3 of the 1983 series, had been chosen from the Brisbane club competition. He says this, just as Gene Miles walks by. Geno was centre in that match, chosen from Wynnum. The two outsiders were Manly-Warringah forwards, Paul Vautin and Dave Brown. Queensland won the series decider 43-22.
QRL Statewide Competitions Manager, David Maiden, who played for Scotland in the 2000 World Cup, says hello as he goes by. Dave is coaching at Wests juniors.
Ben Dobbin interviews me about The Courier-Mail’s State of Origin magazine, for his TripleM ‘Rush Hour’ segment. He is originally from Yass in New South Wales. I am also interviewed by 4KQ’s morning crew, Laurel Edwards, Gary Clare and Mark Hine. Laurel’s grandfather was Arthur ‘Fatty’ Edwards, who toured Britain with the 1929-30 Kangaroos. I no longer work at ‘The Courier-Mail’, but I contributed a number of articles to the magazine, and the paper asked me to be the public face of the promotion.
Melbourne Storm are fined $10,000 for having the referee stop play, because a bloke had a cramp. Good work NRL. Player welfare is paramount, but when there is an obvious rort, come down hard. I recall rugby union refs stopping play to allow a bloke to tie up his boot laces.
Our good friend, Derek Barea from Bridgeman Downs, is hurt in a road accident, driving up the Blackall Range, to Maleny. He was hit head-on by three young blokes in ute. The ute driver was (allegedly) drunk. One the passengers in the ute had to be air-lifted to hospital. Derek is taken to Nambour Hospital with rib injuries.
Brisbane Brothers’ stalwart, Graham ‘Bruno’ Brennan sends me a photograph of American football being played at Brothers’ former home, Corbett Park, Grange, where I now live. I covered an inter-state American football game at Spencer Park, Newmarket, at the request of Sunday-Mail sports department. I hated it. So many overweight blokes who would not make it in rugby league. I think they just liked the gear.
My former Murwillumbah High School classmate, Tom Tartan has been badly hurt in a fall from the roof, at his house at Everton Park in Brisbane’s inner north. Tom was cleaning the gutters. He suffered fractured ribs, a broken shoulder and lung damage, and is lucky to be alive, given he fell four metres and narrowly missed a large rock. Men of a certain age should not climb ladders.
There is a police car chase in Jean Street, one of the access streets to our estate
THUSDAY, OCTOBER 8
Former AFL star, Barry Hall is enjoying coffee at Custard Canteen, Tallebudgera as my wife, Marie and I rock up for a Portuguese tart, after walking through Burleigh National Park. Hall is being ear bashed by some bloke from country Victoria. There are quite a few AFL people around, one wearing a Werribee jersey, another in the St Kilda colours. Come on Anastasia, close those borders before we’re over-run.
On 4KQ, Queensland State of Origin legend, Chris Close recalls giving his bomber jacket to a bouncer at a Melbourne night club, to convince him to let the team past the door. It was after an Origin game at the MCG in the 1990s, and Close was team manager.
Brisbane Norths have reappointed Rohan Smith to a further three years in charge of the Devils. Rohan is the son of veteran coach, Brian Smith.
Derek Barea is out of hospital, but there is a long road to recovery.
Peter Psaltis finishes at Radio TAB. He is returning to 4BC. 4TAB put on a farewell lunch at the Caxton.
Recently retired Courier-Mail sports journalist, Jim Tucker is special guest at (Carlton) Beer and Beef Club lunch at Normanby Hotel, where I am MC. Lunch goes well, despite a lack of organisation by the pub’s events people, if in fact, they have anyone with that title. Former Bullets basketball star, Rob Sibley, a graduate of Beaudesert High, is a guest in the audience. Robert played rugby league at Beaudesert, alongside future Brisbane Souths, Broncos and Castleford (England) five eighth, Gary French. Jim Tucker tells great yarns about rugby union, basketball and golf in particular. Jim, a graduate of Manly Boys High in Sydney, entered journalism in 1978. He covered three Olympics and four Commonwealth Games. His father, Dick was a fine sports writer, a man I had the honour of meeting several times, covering cricket in the 1980s.
Rugby superstar, Sonny Bill Williams plays well for Roosters in their 22-18 semi-final loss to Canberra.
It is 111 years since the first game of rugby league was played in Ipswich. Brisbane defeated the locals 43-10.
Quality major semi-final in Brisbane Rugby League competition sees Wests Panthers beat home side Valleys at Emerson Park, Grange. I have a lovely chat to the McCabe clan – John, Mick and Terry, all Valleys’ stalwarts – and then to former indigenous star, Norm Clarke. In the club house, big Al McInnes shouts me a beer to celebrate the birth of his grandson, Henry. His daughter has a role with the AFL, and his son-in-law is a West Coast fan. Al walks tall, despite these setbacks. Only serious. Al has Scottish blood, but still shouts. He grew up at Harrisville, near the Parcell family, also rugby league royalty. Greg ‘Hammer’ Walker, reminds me he played with Carcassonne in France, with another Queenslander, Bernie Ernst. They were involved in a street fracas, at Lourdes, with unsavoury rugby union types. No love between the two rugby codes in France. Jean Barthe, the only man to captain France in both rugby codes, started with union at Lourdes, before finishing in league at Carcassonne. Former Valleys’ centre, Stephen Boys says he had an offer to join Canterbury-Bankstown in Sydney in 1983, when he was playing in Central Queensland. Also at Emerson Park are the likes of Peter Shields, Marty Scanlan, Steve Hegarty, Ron Gurnett, Vince Buckley and Frank Clancy (all Valleys men); author and Valleys’ tragic, Steve Haddan and one of my neighbours, Ken Schneider.
‘Macca’ (Ian McNamara on ABC Radio) used to sell the Sun newspaper on street corners in Sydney. I would buy the Sun and the Mirror as a young journalist at the Tweed Daily News, but never Brisbane’s afternoon paper, the ‘Telegraph’. I was Sydney-centric. One of Macca’s callers says it is hard to get a meat pie in the trendy eastern suburbs beach area of Sydney. Plenty of smashed avocado on toast. Later that day, ABC Grandstand call the Casino v Ballina Northern Rivers Rugby League match at Casino. There are lots of familiar names (to me) from the Northern Rivers – Durheim, Roberts, McGrady among them – in the two teams. There is a good crowd in Perth for Rockingham v Fremantle match in Western Australia Rugby League. The match is shown on NITV.
Ahead of watching a replay of the Bledisloe Cup match from Wellington in New Zealand, at a bar in Vietnam, my brother, Andrew asks a Kiwi lass not to tell him who won. She says, quick as a flash, “It was a draw”. Sounds like an Irish joke, doesn’t it.
1 Australian representative, Terry Pannowitz playing for Maitland in the Newcastle competition
2 Burleigh National Park
3 Beach flags at Tallebudgera Creek
4 Burleigh Surf Club
5 Jim Tucker (left) at the Normanby
6 Terry McCabe, Norm Clarke and John McCabe at Emerson Park.