DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 6 2021
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8
Wally Lewis’s daughter, Jamie Lee is to play for her dad’s old club, Valley Diehards, who are based at Emerson Park, Grange. In Wally’s day, they played out of Neumann Oval, Albion, which is now Allan Border Field, the home of Queensland Cricket. Former Australian halfback, Scott Prince coaches Valleys Women’s team, which includes current Australian player, Ali Brigginshaw.
Former Rugby League Week editor, Geoff Prenter reflects on 60 years of writing about the code. He rates Johnny Raper the best player he has seen and Tony Paskins his favourite player. These days Prenter has a column in the Southern Highland News, based at Bowral.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9
Former Queensland cricket opener, Andrew Courtice is a new voice on Radio TAB. Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock says fiery pace bowler, Jeff Thomson loved Courtice, because Andrew loved a joke.
While walking on Eildon Hill, Wilston, a dog, not on a leash, rushes up to my wife, Marie, giving her a start. “It’s only a dog,’ says the woman with the canine. “And it should be on a lead,” says my wife. Why do dog owners assume we know their dog is friendly? Way back in 1990, when Marie and our three children were exploring a small town in East Sussex, England, on our way from Dover to the Isle of Wight, a German shepherd charged at us. I was wearing big walking boots, so I waited until it was nearly upon me, and I kicked it right on the nose. It retreated, whimpering. The owners were about to blow up, but I pointed to a police car parked across the road, where the two uniformed officers were laughing their heads off. In other words, they knew I was within my rights. The dog owners retreated with their tails between their legs. Not sure about the dog.
I have morning tea with rowing icon, Ray Ebert, who recently saw former Test halfback, Greg Oliphant cycling along a path at Sandgate, on Bramble Bay. That is good news. There had been reports ‘Ollie’ had become something of a recluse. Former Valleys’ players, Rob Wilson and Terry McCabe, along with a neighbour of ours, Ken Schneider are having coffee at the same cafe. Ray’s son-in-law is former Melbourne Storm, South Sydney and Widnes (England) utility back, Brad Watts.
Today is the 15th anniversary of the passing of my younger sister, Kerri-Anne, in Brisbane. She is still missed terribly by her siblings, nephews and nieces.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10
At 10.05 a.m. Ray Hadley announces that my former Courier-Mail colleague, Paul Malone died at 7.30 last night. I had visited Paul in intensive care only last week. A quadriplegic since a fall in 2019, Paul had been admitted to St Andrew’s Hospital with pneumonia. Hadley reads a tribute written by another former Courier colleague, Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock. Tennis Australia also have a nice tribute to the man known as ‘Scobie’, including lovely words from players, Ash Barty and John Millman. Millman had visited Paul in hospital. Tributes flow from rugby league legends, Wally Lewis and Shane Webcke, with Wally calling Paul ‘The Doyen’.
A television advertisement for rugby union, which will be shown on Channel 9’s pay channel, Stan, is straight out of the rugby league playbook, with big hits dominating.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11
Media identities, Pat Welsh, ‘Crash’ Craddock and Bart Sinclair talk about Paul Malone on Radio SEN. “Sport has lost a genuine champion,” says Pat. Andrew
Courtice and Paul Sawtell pay tribute on Radio TAB.
Queensland Rugby League icon, Billy Moore is my interview subject at Men of League dinner at Mooloolaba Surf Club, and, as usual, he is entertaining. Billy says his old club, North Sydney would still be in the top tier, if they had signed with Super League instead of staying loyal to the ARL. He says Cronulla should be gone, not Norths, describing ‘The Shire’ (Sutherland Shire) as a principality. Brothers’ stalwarts, Tony Martyn and Joe Borg are in the audience. I thought Joe had died. There was a funeral notice for another Joe Borg in Brisbane last year. Real estate agent, Chris Pace, who was a copy boy for the late, great league writer, Peter ‘Chippy’ Frilingos’ in Sydney, is also there, along with Peter Kane (PK), formerly from Wagga Wagga, who was taught by former New Zealand rugby league Test centre, Graham Kennedy, who played in the Riverina. Kennedy was a product of the Marist club at Greymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. I was driven to and from the Mooloolaba function by Men of League State Manager, Andrew Blucher and Queensland Administration chief, Belinda Perry, who is related to former North Sydney and Newtown forward, Paul Cuneo, who played for City Firsts in 1961.
In Peter Dimond’s book, ‘Playing with Legends’, the former Test centre recalls the 1974 flood at Murwillumbah, when patrons at his Imperial Hotel waited until the water was up around their waists, before deserting the bar. It’s a true story, because I was reporting on the flood for the ‘Tweed Daily News. Dimond also recalled Cliff Leslight throwing a punch at him when Peter said something about Catholics, which offended Cliff. He called Dimond a ‘priest bashing bastard’, but they remained mates, and in fact, Cliff taught Peter’s son, Craig to ride horses.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12
Australian rowing stalwart, Ray Ebert does an excellent job as our guest speaker at Beer and Beef club lunch at Morrison Hotel, South Brisbane. There was no microphone, but we got by. Carlton Brewery rep., Tim Dyson recalls working behind the bar at The Chalk Hotel, South Brisbane, wearing an England polo, and a patron refusing to be served by him, as an England v Australia cricket Test was being played at the nearby Gabba. Beer and Beef Club member, Reeve Kruck from Titans Sheds fame, has a good feeling about the Gold Coast Titans’ chances in the NRL this year. He is a Titans’ member.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13
Argentinian, Santiago Carreras looks sharp, scoring an intercept try for Gloucester against Bristol in English Rugby Union.
Former Broncos’ chairman, Barry Maranta has a nice tribute to Paul Malone in ‘The Courier-Mail’.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14
The Sunday Mail has a yarn about the NRL trying to get more Asians into the game. Former Queensland Labor Government Minister, Kate Jones heads the Participation Council. Former West End (Ipswich) player, Arthur Jong is a fine example of an Asian rugby league player. I think Arthur is descended from a seaman who jumped ship in Melbourne.
Channel 7 has been to Souths Logan training at Davies Park, West End (Brisbane) to interview multi-code star, Karmichael Hunt, who is back in rugby league.
I enjoy a few beers at Happy Valley Brewery, Stafford with neighbour, Len O’Brien. Police have to remove two 12-year-old girls from the swimming pool area at our Hermitage Gardens estate. It seems the lasses had travelled south from Morayfield, looking for mischief.