DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 44 2020
EXCLUSIVE. Wallaby Star, Andrew Slack to Switch to Rugby League.
Well, it would have been a nice headline, 41 years ago, and it almost happened. Former Australian rugby league skipper and Brisbane Souths’ stalwart, Greg Veivers reveals to me that he thought he had ‘Slacky’s’ signature, as well as that of Test rugby league hooker, John Lang. I had phoned Greg to invite him to the annual Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture, which this year is to be delivered by Lang, primarily about football in the 1970s. In 1980, Lang was looking to retire, after effectively being dumped by his club, Brisbane Easts. But Veivers offered him a deal at Souths at Davies Park. ‘Langy’ was ready to come, until the Chooks (Sydney Easts) swooped,” Veivers told me. “We thought we had Andrew Slack as well, because he was disillusioned with union, after missing out on the Test side for a while. But in the end, he stuck with rugger.”
Ray Hadley, during a radio interview with Qantas boss, Alan Joyce, reveals that Main Beach (Gold Coast) cafe, ‘Beaches’ has closed its doors. It was a favourite of our eldest son, Damien and his wife Emma, when they lived at Main Beach. They are now based at Ayr in North Queensland.
It’s Melbourne Cup day, but my thoughts are with the inexperienced Queensland State of Origin side. How will they fare against New South Wales in the first game of the series, in Adelaide tomorrow night? Former centre, and long-time manager, Chris Close, says on FoxSports ‘Back Page’, a ‘f……Queensland win would be f……….sensational’. I watched ‘The Cup’, at the home of friend, Derek Barea, while Marie joined her Playgroup friends at the Hamilton residence of Harry and Milla Linari.
Charleville product, Kurt Capewell is sensational in Queensland’s shock 18-14 win over New South Wales in Origin 1. Qld forward, Josh Papalii is pinched for a forward pass. It wasn’t forward. He passed it backwards, but then he dropped back to avoid being smashed by a defender, therefore giving the impression, to the untrained eye, of a forward pass. Unfortunately, most of our touch judges have ‘untrained’ eyes.
Greg Shannon, a fellow member of the QRL History Committee, says he would not have watched the match, if they had not played the National Anthem beforehand. Another member of the History Committee, Paul Hayes, a librarian at Queensland University of Technology, says 11,000 ‘uni’ jobs are ‘going’, nationwide. It shows you much the uni sector, to their everlasting shame, relied on Chinese students.
There is an Anglicare Advertisement, centred around former Test winger, Lionel Morgan, after the footy. Lionel, Australia’s first Indigenous Test rugby league player, is in an aged care facility at Lota, on Brisbane’s southern bayside.
A little boy walks behind his dad, on the path dividing our estate, and says ‘fuck off’, as his dad asks him to get a move on.
Marie and I have drinks at Gresham Bar in the City, and there are photographs of cane cutters at Ayr, in North Queensland, many years ago, as well as a Queensland Rugby League team from the 1920s. Service is excellent, and so is the New England Pale Ale. Dinner at Otto’s – servings small, but food is top quality. We have a view of the old Customs House, which is sandwiched between high rise buildings. This is not good town planning.
Former Wallaby, Mick Barry drowns, in the surf, on the Gold Coast. Barry, who played for Brothers in Brisbane, was described, by one scribe, as a ‘cheeky young halfback’, when he was selected for the Queensland team to play the British Lions at Lang Park in 1966.
Wynnum-Manly Rugby League Club returns to official training, in readiness for the 2021 season. The 2020 Intrust Super Cup was abandoned after one round, thanks to Covid.
Former Toronto Wolfpack coach, Brian McDermott says Super League’s call to exclude the Canadian club, is their worst ever decision. “They are kicking out the most successful expansion club,” McDermott says.
Another riveting centre path conversation: ‘Kirsty rang that guy,” says one woman. “That arsehole?’ says the other woman, dressed in black, as she walks her dog. Then a couple with two sausage dogs emerge, sending a brush turkey scurrying away. “I was going to say, “go get it’ (to the dogs),” says the woman. Lovely. Sausage dogs! Are they most annoying dogs in the world? There is a woman in in our estate who has two of the blighters (not the same woman I saw on the path), and they bark non-stop. Her town house is for sale, thank God.
Noted sports journalist, Leo Schlink finishes at News Ltd after 33 years, to take up a post at Hong Kong Turf Club. They must be paying heaps.
Former Brisbane Brothers’ player, Peter Mahoney celebrates his 80th birthday at Burleigh Surf Club. Former Test hooker, John Lang turns 70. Clifton-Allora’s 1970 premiership side, which included future Test forward, Greg Platz, holds a reunion.
So many cyclists on Kedron Brook path, one pack going so fast, despite the presence of children. Our grandsons, Ethan and Connor, love playing beside the Brook
Terry Liberopoulos interviews former Cudgen, Brisbane Brothers, Balmain and South Sydney centre, Graham Roberts for ‘Rugby League Review’, one of the last surviving league publications. Graham is at Narrandera, on his way back to the Tweed, from South Australia, when he contacts me. We played against each other in the Group 18 Gold Coast League, in the early 1970s.
I enjoy an ale and live music at Happy Valley Brewery, Stafford, with a docile, well behaved ‘sheep dog’, taking in the surrounds, as its owners also partake of craft beer. Some dog owners actually respect that other people might be peeved at uncalled-for barking and/or going up to strangers to lick, jump at, and, in some cases – shock/horror – bite.
1 Andrew Slack, working for Channel 9, interviews Queensland coach, Wayne Bennett after a State of Origin match at Lang Park
2 Lionel Morgan, in a charity touch match, long after his retirement as a rugby league player
3 Customs House, Brisbane viewed from Otto’s restaurant
4 Greg Platz (left) in a Country trial in 1980
5 Our grandsons, Connor (left) and Ethan Ricketts at Kedron Brook.