DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITERWEEK 3 2021
MONDAY, JANUARY 18
Former Broncos’ rugby league hooker, John Driscoll is keen to be part of our Brisbane Men of League Foundation Committee. John, a neighbour of my wife, Marie and I at Grange, is going to his home-town, Yeppoon today, following a break on North Stradbroke Island. John is part of the Carl Webb Foundation, set up by another former Bronco, Damon Keating, to help former Australian forward, Carl Webb, who has motor neuron.
Marie and I head to O’Reilly’s Guest House on Green Mountain, in the Gold Coast Hinterland, for a break. Follow a wide load from Beenleigh, past the Showmen’s Club, as Rad Hadley, on 4BC, talks about Phil Cass and other world class magicians. Phil played rugby league for Souths Magpies.
We are tail gated by a moron in a four-wheel drive as we enter Canungra, where we have morning tea at Metz. The lady behind the counter looks at us as if we are from Mars, because we are wearing masks, as per Queensland Health advice, for people from Greater Brisbane. Buy honey at a roadside stall on the climb up the mountain.
Our unit is lovely, and there is a raptor show going on, as we look out from the balcony. Negotiate the tree top walk, on nine suspension bridges built into the canopy, and then explore the botanic gardens. There is a plaque to Romanian born, Mihai Pansaru. Pelts down as we arrive at Lodge for afternoon tea and an address by manager, Brendan Long. Originally from western Victoria, Brendan has a lovely delivery style. He went to Uni in Ballarat. Pizza for dinner, in the bar.
On ABC Radio, former Australian cricket captain, Ian Chappell rates Lismore, the town of my birth, a great sporting centre. When I think of Lismore and sport, it quickly brings to mind rugby league stars such as Jack Reardon, Jack Rayner and Graeme Atherton; baseballers, in particular, Peter Gahan; soccer goal keeper, Terry Greedy and cricketer, Adam Gilchrist.
Our daughter, Melanie Mariotto has her degree, after doing her course from home in Singapore. Well done, Mel.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 19
Marie and I participate in an early morning, guided bird walk along the Booyong Track. We see whip birds (including Mr and Mrs Whippy) and bower birds. Feral cats have got a few whip birds, says our guide, who has taken tours through Greenland. He saw a thin dingo the other day. Three kites fly by as the Birds of Prey Lecture is held.
Marie and I walk beautiful Box Forest Circuit. After recent rain it is difficult crossing West Canungra Creek. I help Sandra and her son, Lachlan from Wallsend in Newcastle. They are moving to Brisbane to live, given he will become a student at QUT. She is ex RAAF. Lachlan went to Merewether high.
At dinner our waitress is originally from Balmain, and tells stories about swimming great, Dawn Fraser, a mad Balmain Tigers rugby league fan, who had ‘The Riverview Pub’, one of many great pubs in ‘Tigerland’.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20
Walk to Mick’s (observation) Tower, which was opened by Pat Comben, a Minister in the Goss Government, in 1990; then to the Wishing Tree and along Moran’s Creek to the falls. Chat to a Sunshine Coast family, the mother born in Glasgow, Scotland. She handles pythons on their property. Her husband had seen a red bellied black snaked on the path near the Wishing Tree. Our son, Lliam has to get a snake handled to his Supply Partners business at 17 Mile Rocks, as there is a python in the garden.
Corned beef and salad sandwiches at Moran’s Falls, watching a bloke and his female companion leave the track and go to the edge of the falls, to release a drone. An older couple – Brisbane Lions Aussie rules fans – arrive and she has a fluffy lion, which she places on the fence near the cliffs, and photographs. Tragic. My wife recalls some of her walks with the Brisbane Catholic Bush Walking Club, all conducted with an emphasis on safety and a respect for the environment.
Australian Geographic magazines are plentiful in the Lodge library. What a shame the magazine is no longer published. I read a nice article about the town of Hay in NSW. There is also a photograph of a group of achievers, and they ARE achievers. They have not been chosen with inclusivity in mind, if you get my drift. They have been chosen simply because they have achieved great things.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21
Return to Brisbane, via lunch in Canungra’s Memorial Park, where there is a plaque to a local doctor. Chat to a Filipino lady we met at O’Reilly’s. Divert through Beaudesert, which is a mistake, given extensive roadworks. See a couple of fire ant trucks in a paddock. I am told the fire ant people are well equipped with vehicles, but in terms of their effectiveness in dealing with this menace – the jury is out.
Watch the Big Bash cricket, but Brisbane Heat are so bad, switch over to Rick Stein in Clermont, France.
Learn of the passing of former Great Britain five eighth, David Bolton, one of the heroes of Balmain’s 1969 premiership win. (see Vale Dave Bolton by Steve Ricketts).
In the New Zealand Herald, Chris Rattue writes that the America’s Cup is a farce, and how disgraceful it is that the New Zealand Warriors are not better funded by the Government, given they are the country’s major sporting franchise.
I am ‘Linked-in’ with former French rugby league forward, Carlos Zaluendo, who I first met, when France toured Australia in 1981. The next time I met Carlos was in 2004, when he helped the Australian players and the media pack, during our stay in Toulouse. He was a local inspector of police.
Jandamarra Cadd has done a portrait of Lionel Morgan, Australia’s first indigenous rugby league Test representative (1960).
The Courier-Mail brings out a 3 a.m. edition for the inauguration of United States president, Joe Biden.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 22
La Liga (Spain) soccer player Muto, from Japan, needs to have a good hard look at himself after a disgraceful dive. Burnley, an old Lancashire soccer club, beat Liverpool at Anfield for the first time since 1974. Burnley beat Liverpool 1-0 in the 1914 FA Cup final.
Former Queensland team manager, Kevin Brasch shows me through his collection of books and other items at his West Chermside home. Kevin has given a lifetime of service to the code, including managing Queensland and Australian teams.
My wife, Marie attends the funeral of Bob Viner, the father of her close friend, Belinda Abell. Bob worked at the House of Jenyns, where my later sister, Kerri-Anne also worked for a number of years. Evidently Bob could make anything. His own father died when he was just five. Bob was one of six kids. He was close friends with former Brisbane Wests’ prop, George Vautin, father of Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin, and it is lovely to hear that George was able to attend the funeral.
Newtown media officer, Glen Dwyer, a Toowoomba lad, recalls seeing fiery prop, Marcel Bescos play for France against Toowoomba in 1960. Glen said Bescos had a torrid tussle with Elton Rasmussen. There is a nice piece on the QRL website about my former Brisbane Brothers and Norths’ teammate, Dennis Moore being named coach of the Maroochydore Swans in the Sunshine Coast comp. There were no games last year because of Covid. Dennis has given a lifetime of service to rugby league.
The all-time indigenous Origin side is named at Redcliffe, to coincide with a Murri carnival. The team is: Greg Inglis; Dane Gagai, Steve Renouf, Justin Hodges, Matt Sing; Johnathan Thurston, Scott Prince; Arthur Beetson, P J Marsh, Sam Backo, Gorden Tallis, Carl Webb, Sam Thaiday. Inter: Matt Bowen, Willie Tonga, Wendell Sailor, Dale Shearer. I would have had Shearer in the starting side ahead of Gagai and Tony Currie in the 17 ahead of Tonga.
A bloke wearing a South Sydney rugby league jersey stands out in the crowd at the Adelaide Oval, during the Big Bash cricket.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 23
Marie and I attend Green Jam (live music), at South Bank, and then dine in Fish Lane. Pork belly, prawns, fried rice.
Laurie Parker from Charleville says he trialled with Norths Devils in Brisbane and was signed by president, Bob Bax on the back of a beer coaster, as per Baxxy’s time honoured tradition. Laurie finished up playing tertiary league.
While channel surfing, I see 15-year-old, Mohamed Toure score a great goal for Adelaide against Central Coast in A League soccer. Also watch a documentary about Portsmouth, where my first Kangaroo Supporters’ tour stayed for two nights at the start of our trip in 1990. The doco., in my view, provides a ‘Left Wing’ appraisal of the history of the city.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 24
My Maitland mate, Greg Grainger sends a photo of Kiwi international, Henry Tatana in his Cessnock days. Also in the photo is Neil Stevens, whose nickname was Colgate, because he had no top teeth. Greg and I joke about the qualities of KB and VB beers, given Tatana is pictured drinking KB. ‘Kiddies Beer’, Greg calls it. As for VB – ‘Vomit Bombs’.
That afternoon, as I enjoy craft beers at Happy Valley Brewery, blokes beside me talk ‘real beer’. My brother, Jeffrey has beers at Kirra Beach Pub with mates Mark Cummins (father of the Nick Honey Badger Cummins), Bernie Cork and Gavin Wilson.
Neil Diamond is 80. How can that be? Marie and I saw him at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre many years ago.
Friends of ours in Scotland say they have lost two friends to Covid and a neighbour is in hospital recovering.