DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 46 2020
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16
A female malibu rider twice strays into the flagged area at Coolum Beach, and, seemingly, doesn’t give a rat’s. There are some great waves for body surfers, in our confined area. The board riders have miles of beach, but some still need to come into the flagged area. Parisian woman serves my wife, Marie and I at Ma Boulange. It is probably Ma herself. Marie and I walk the headland and are joined by a one-legged lady and her male NDIS assistant, as we take in the view from under a pandanus tree. The lady lights up a cigarette and talks about scallop shells. Marie and I have takeaway fish and chips at Mooloolaba. Nearby, an obese woman in a motor chair, swears like a trooper, with a multitude of companions, obviously used to such verbal rubbish, carrying on regardless. Marie and I have our second swim for the day, but the water is ‘dirty’, the result of dredging near the mouth of the Mooloola River. On the drive back, a car passes us with the number plate – Moo Lady. She must be a real cow.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17
Radio TAB’s Paul Sawtell, on the back of a text from a listener, takes a pot-shot at journalists for bagging the game from which they make a living. This was something that was thrown up at me, when I was a rugby league writer at the ‘Telegraph’ and then ‘The Courier-Mail’, when I had written something perceived as negative. I always replied that I was a professional journalist, and if rugby league died tomorrow, I would still have a job. It is different for league commentators, like Greg Alexander, Corey Parker and Benji Marshall. They rely on the game for a big part of their income.
Ray Hadley, on his 4BC/2GB Radio show, mentions a French newspaper which accidently published an obituary, for the Queen. I send Ray an email detailing the story of the day noted Queensland radio commentator, George Lovejoy broadcast the passing of league legend, Dan Dempsey, who was still alive and kicking at the time. Ray reads the email, and refers to me as Stephen. I don’t think he realised it was Steve Ricketts, the league writer, who covered many games alongside him.
Joe Gorman, who wrote the award-winning rugby league book, ‘Heartland’, is working part time as a bread delivery driver in Cairns. He also contributes to Melbourne’s ‘The Saturday Paper’, a weekly newspaper. Evidently ‘The Courier-Mail’ is now printed at Yandina, rather than the purpose-built plant at Murarrie.
Gary Heiner, who played with future Test prop, John Wittenberg in the South Burnett district in the 1960s, sends a photograph of the South Burnett Wanderers team, which includes his granddad. It was undoubtedly a rugby union side.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18
Marie and I attend the third and deciding State of Origin match at Suncorp Stadium, and Queensland win 20-14 in a marvellous contest. Not bad for a side rated the worst in 40 years, by Sydney Telegraph’s Dean ‘Bulldog’ Ritchie. Poor old ‘Bulldog’ was only trying to add a bit of spice to the series, and, I must confess, I was inclined to agree with him. Our accountant, Tim Mead is seated near us at Suncorp, wearing a Maroon wig. An obese bloke in front of us, literally takes up two seats. I don’t think he would have paid for two. There are two pitch invaders, one with a great sidestep. Our eldest lad, Damien, watches the game on television at his home at Ayr, and is not impressed with the commentary of Channel 9’s Phil ‘Gus’ Gould. Queensland’s reserves act as ball boys. One of them, Josh Kerr looks happy just to be involved in some way.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19
Queensland Origin legend, Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin (on radio) recalls playing for Wests Mitchelton against the Police Academy in 1977, at Souths Darra, with Wayne Bennett as coach of the Academy. “I called him Mr Bennett,” Fatty recalls. Vautin, a former Padua College student, mentions some of the college’s star league graduates, among them Paul McCabe, David Shillington, David Stagg, Dane Carlaw and current Queensland rep., Lindsay Collins, a nephew of former Test winger, Lionel Williamson. ‘Fatty’ refers to Lionel as ‘indigenous’, which he is not.
I visit my former Courier-Mail colleague, Paul Malone at his Wilston home. Paul is a quadriplegic, as a result of fall 18 months ago. We have learned of the passing of another colleague, Tony Grant-Taylor, 73, a noted business writer.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20
I visit my former Murwillumbah High School classmate, Tom Tartan at his Everton Hills home. Tom is recovering from a fall from the roof.
Marie and I walk the Brisbane River at St Lucia, past Redback Technologies (Solar energy) and St Lucia Golf Club.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21
Family get-together at my sister, Gay Lynch’s place at Kangaroo point. Our cabbie sounds like a Scot, but was born and raised here. He recalls seeing Rodney Rude at the Homestead Hotel, Zillmere many years ago. Marie and I saw the Little River Band (with Johnny Farnham out front) at the Homestead. Gay’s daughter, Eliza is the ‘custodian’ of a collection of letters written by my grandmother, Eve Ricketts, who was quite the feminist in her day, as well as being a fine amateur actress and a professional fitness trainer.
There was quite a brawl at the Stafford Tavern today, I am told, involving a group of young blokes, dressed in white, who rocked up with their girls.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22
Brothers Rugby League Club, Stafford has had solar panels installed, and there are also several new stands. Communication cnsultant, Jim Devine’s brother-in-law is Rob Doo, brother of Geoff, who I played against in the Group 18 Gold Coast League. Jim started his journalistic cadetship at the Tweed Daily News when I was a graded journalist there. For a time, Jim worked out of the Coolangatta office, living in the Daily News Flat in Griffith Street with Robert Dow, son of senior journalist, Bob Dow. Robert worked at Myer. Jim recalls visiting prominent Tweed Heads Seagulls’ players, Steve Hage and ‘Hussy’ Ross at their Kennedy Drive residence. Hage would go on to play for New South Wales.