DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 49 2020
MONDAY, DECEMBER 7
‘The King’, Wally Lewis signs 500 copies of his book, ‘My Life. Wally Lewis’, at QRL headquarters, Milton, for future promotional purposes. It is fortuitous for Allora Sports Museum curator, Perry Cronin, who is inspecting the historical display at the QRL when Wally arrives, and Perry is able to get a copy of the book signed for him.
Wests Tigers former New South Wales’ halfback, Josh Reynolds confirms he will join Hull in England.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8
Former New Zealand rugby league representative prop, Gerard ‘Ged’ Stokes, has died of brain cancer, Ged’s son is England cricket star, Ben Stokes, who played rugby league for English county, Cumbria when his dad was coaching there. Ged was chosen from the Eastern Suburbs club in Christchurch to tour Australia and Papua New Guinea with the 1982 Kiwis. I covered their match against Gold Coast at Burleigh, and also the Second Test at Lang Park. Ged did not play in the Test, but I’m pretty sure he played at Burleigh.
FoxSports have a replay of a Broncos v Crushers match. Wendell Sailor (Broncos) and Mark Protheroe (Crushers) each make impressive breaks during the period I watch the match.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9
Dual International, Lote Tuqiri; former Rugby League Test winger, Michael Hancock and former New South Wales’ forward, Terry Matterson (all ex-Broncos) are my interview subjects at Men of League Christmas lunch at Broncos Leagues. (Our eldest lad, Damien had interviewed Lote at Beenleigh High School, where Damien taught, as part of the RUOK Week).
Hancock says he copped a bashing on Australia’s tour of New Zealand in 1989 and it affected his confidence for some time afterwards. Matterson says he is looking forward to being part of Kevin Walters’ coaching staff at the Broncos.
My former Brisbane Brothers’ teammate, Clem Hovi brings his 16-year-old grandson to the lunch, taking the average age down to 87. Only serious.
Watch the Broncos train afterwards and Alfie (coaching staff member, Allan Langer) gives me a wave. Chat to Broncos’ welfare officer, Steve Parle, who tells me that 30 promising young players are in camp at Ashgrove Marists.
Former Redcliffe player, Josh Kerr (now with St George Illawarra) wins the Peter Jackson Memorial Award for his contribution to the Queensland Origin side. Noosa product, Jake Friend (Roosters) wins the Ron McAuliffe Medal as Queensland Player of the Series.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10
Beautiful whiting, bug sliders, oysters (from St Helens in Tasmania), crumbed calamari (and chips of course) at Fish Factory, Morningside.
The topic of ‘Social Studies’ – part of the curriculum when I was at school – comes up in conversation, as I enjoy a few ales with friends at Stafford Tavern. I loved Social Studies, and then later, Geography, Ancient and Modern History.
Proserpine’s Tony Price has released his latest book – ‘More Than Just a Game’ – about the history of rugby league.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11
The Courier-Mail’s Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock says there is a stat – put forward by former Test cricketer, Kerry O’Keefe – that the last six Brownlow Medal winners (in the AFL) came from towns without Maccas. A pack of eight cyclists zoom past my wife, Marie as she walks Kedron Brook path. Racing for Maccas perhaps.
New rule for the NRL – two points for field goals slotted from outside the 40-metre area. Eric Simms, Barry Spring, Barry Glasgow, Jean Dop, and of course, Puig Aubert, would love that.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12
Code hopping Karmichael Hunt wants to coach rugby league. He is returning to the 13-man game as a player at Souths Logan, after previously playing Australian rules and rugby union.
Our eldest son, Damien; his wife, Emma and daughters, Parker and Evan are staying with us. They live at Ayr in North Queensland’s Burdekin Valley. Damien is deputy principal at East Ayr Primary School. We watch the First Test (Old Trafford) from the 1986 Kangaroo rugby league tour, a match I covered for Brisbane’s ‘Telegraph’ newspaper.
I had also covered the 1982 Kangaroo tour for the Telegraph and then Great Britain’s Australian tour in 1984. In 1988 and 1992 I covered the Great Britain tours for ‘The Courier-Mail’. Paul Malone covered the 1990 Kangaroo tour for the paper, while I took a supporters’ tour, comprised mainly of people from Brisbane clubs, Souths and Easts.
Damien says I got him into reading when we had a camping holiday at Ballina in the Christmas of 1995, and he bought ‘The Bourne Identity’ from a second hand book shop. I never knew that.
It is 50 years since Greg Chappell made 100 in his Test cricket debut for Australia in Perth. I remember watching it on ABC TV, although they went to the news with Chappell on 99. Only the ABC could do that. Thank God for Kerry Packer. Never thought I would say that.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13
‘Playgroup Friends’ dinner at Portobello’s Albany Creek. The food is good, but not quite up to the standard of our mid-year gathering.
American singer, Charley Pride has died, aged 86, from Covid complications. I won one of his LPs, as best player in a third-grade match for Brisbane Brothers in 1976. The presentations were made in the Leagues Club auditorium, Grange, each Sunday night after the games, and you never knew what you were going to get.
It is 45 years since batsman, Martin Bedkober was killed at Oxenham Park, Nundah, after being struck above the heart by a rising delivery, in a Brisbane club cricket match. I was doing police rounds for the ‘Telegraph’ at the time, and had to attend the ground, along with fellow roundsman, Peter Caton, to interview the shell-shocked players. Bedkober and Australian pace bowler, Jeff Thomson – both Sydney boys – were flatmates in Brisbane, but ‘Thommo’ was touring the West Indies at the time.