DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK ONE 2021
MONDAY, JANUARY 4
Alan Knott was one of my favourite English cricket players. I loved his energy and quirky traits. Today I learned that one of the regulars at the Stafford Tavern, Dave Corbett, once cleaned bowled ‘Knotty’. It seems Dave was one of the Brisbane locals invited for net bowling at the Gabba in 1970, and on one occasion he got through the guard of the ‘Knotty’, who came through the system at Kent. You learn a lot of things over a beer. Former Brothers’ rugby league winger, Peter Skerman says he was once shot at by thugs from the notorious Painters and Dockers’ Union.
Broncos’ coach, Kevin Walters has added older brother, Steve and another former Test forward, Petero Civoniceva to the coaching staff.
In England, former top rugby league journalist and close friend, Martin Richards from Standish in Great Manchester, stands in line for two and a half hours for a Covid test. He gets the all clear.
Learn of the passing of Gerry Marsden from ‘Gerry and the Pace Makers’. He was 78. My wife, Marie and I saw the ferries going across the Mersey when we visited Liverpool in 1977. Liverpool Football Club’s Kop, adopted Gerry Marsden’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as their anthem.
I love ‘Courier-Mail’ columnist, Mike O’Connor’s fearless tips for the year. One is that the Qld Government will finally achieve its aim of employing one public servant for each citizen. The other is that the ABC will quote scientific sources as saying that coal causes cancer. He may be right on both counts.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 5
A power tool starts at 6.40 a.m., somewhere near our place.
Cadiz and Valencia players embrace in the tunnel before their match in LaLiga. You don’t see that in rugby league. In days past, you were more likely to see violence, or hear slanging matches take place in the tunnel, especially in England. There is the infamous story, perhaps exaggerated, about Hull’s ‘terrible Drake twins’, Jim and Bill. The Cumbrian born brothers were at the back of the team line-up in the tunnel, with the opposition beside them. The opposition boasted a signing from South African rugby union. One of the brothers said to the other: ‘I wonder how hard they make steel in South Africa?’ The other one replied. ‘We’re about to find out’, and he decked the ex-rugby lad. Hull’s opponents ran out with 12 men. Evidently the Drake boys were ‘smashing lads’, socially.
Another aside – My wife, Marie and I went to Cadiz and Valencia during our 1978 Kombi van trip through Europe. Cadiz was often looted by English pirates. Carlotta, one of Marie’s co-workers at Windsor International Motel in Brisbane, is from Valencia.
Marie and I see the excellent Australian movie, ‘The Dry’ at Palace Centro in James Street. Our daughter, Melanie read the book, but has yet to see the movie. A woman in front of us switches on her smart phone as the credits begin at the end of the movie. Some people just can’t wait. Dinner afterwards at Cru Bar – share plates, including squid, artichoke, peppers and dumplings. Our cabbie home – 42-year-old Geoff – says he lives with a prominent historian. He recommends several documentaries, one about cannibals.
John Leahy, a follower of this site, recalls playing touch football for the University of Queensland side, the Hawks, with our former neighbour, prominent solicitor, Jeff Biggs. The side also included league historian, Greg Mallory.
A new Covid lock-down is in force in the UK. Friends of ours in Dover, Kent, have had the virus, but have come through OK.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 6
That bloody power tool starts at 6.25 a.m. I bet the operator is a real tool. Evidently it is happening in our town house estate. Estate manager, Harry Moore sends a text about a neighbour’s dog being left unattended. Only ONE dog?
There are skips outside a house in Jean Street, Grange, which my wife calls ‘the jungle house’. I think ‘the jungle’, which is hiding at least one car body, is about to be cleared, and the house either demolished or renovated.
While channel surfing, I come across Coronation Street on BBC, and they are wearing (Covid) masks, so it is quite recent.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 7
Lunch at quirky Woongooroo Estate at Mt Archer, after morning tea at another ‘different’ place, ‘Brazen Hussies’ at Woodford. Woongooroo owners, Phil and Gail Close, are lovely, as is their eight-year-old dog, who does tricks. The outside toilets were rescued from the Expo 88 site at Brisbane’s South Bank. Skyhooks’ front man, Graeme ‘Shirley’ Strachan died on August 29, 2001 when the helicopter he was piloting, crashed into Mt Archer. Phil Close says former band member, Red Symons makes an annual pilgrimage to the site. We drive home via Somerset Dam and Mt Glorious, where we do a short bush walk. There is a bloke photographing moss. My brother, Jeffrey and his wife, Ann, bush walk at Minyon Falls, and eat at busy Eltham pub, in the Byron/Richmond district of northern New South Wales.
Fellow (Stafford) pub patron tells me he went to the 1975 World Series rugby league match between Australia and France at Lang Park, where 1951 French tour hero, Puig Aubert was a special guest of the Australian Rugby League. Australia won the 1975 Test 26-6, with Bob Fulton and Mark Harris each scoring two tries. At the pub we had been talking about the great French sides of the 1950s. The gentleman who had been to the 1975 Test, said “the French did nothing”. France were captained by Francis de Nadai, who was playing in his last international campaign, and were coached by Antoine Jiminez, a former Pau rugby union player, who played 34 league Tests for France between 1953 and 1960. France’s only win in eight matches in the 1975 World Series was the very first game of the tournament when they accounted for Wales 14-7 in Toulouse. There also was a 12-all draw with New Zealand in Marseilles.
Kirra Surf Club on the Gold Coast, is 105 years old today.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 8
Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk announces a three-day lockdown, after the UK strain of Covid escaped into the community. Panic buying ensues.
Watch movie, Viceroy’s House. Bridport in Dorset features on Escape to the country. Marie and I stayed there, in 2015, on a southern England road trip. (see diary entries on this site).
SATURDAY, JANUARY 9
A neighbour shops at Zone Fresh supermarket, Windsor, and the shelves are fully stocked.
Former New Zealand rugby league Test star, Lance Hohaia, a Waikato lad, is rugby (union) coach at Aquinas College, Grand Rapids in the United States. Hohaia finished his league playing career with St Helens in England.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 10
Our youngest son, Lliam takes his two boys, Ethan and Connor to the Suncorp Stadium forecourt, where the statue of ‘The King’, Wally Lewis, is adorned with a mask.
In Singapore, our son-in-law, Greg Mariotto watches ‘The Fugitive’ for the first time. I think Lliam has seen it half a dozen times. Marie and I watch Mission Impossible – Fallout. We reflect on our trips to New Zealand, given it is usually February or March when we travel across the ditch. Won’t be happening this year.