DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 11 2021
MONDAY, MARCH 15
Brisbane Rugby League cult hero, Greg ‘Slippery’ McCarthy found his way to Brisbane from Coffs Harbour in the mid-1970s, after meeting Wests’ Panthers’ players on their end of season trip to the North Coast of New South Wales. In an interview with Queensland Times (Ipswich) rugby league tragic, Michael Nunn, McCarthy recalls visits to the XXXX Brewery and Government House (in that order of importance) after Wests beat Redcliffe in the 1975 grand final. McCarthy, who played fullback in that match, and the 1976 grand final win over Easts, is now an avocado grower in the Coffs’ region. ‘Slippery’ is a huge fan of former Wests’ prop, John Young.
Learn of the passing of Doug Parkinson, 74. He sang ‘Rooster Rooster Man’ as a theme for the mighty ‘Easts’ from Sydney Rugby League. Former Manly player, Sydney ‘Sun’ and later ‘Rugby League Week’ journalist, Peter Peters says Doug was a neighbour and would sing his cover of Beatles’ hit, ‘Dear Prudence’, nude, from his apartment balcony, to entertain Zorba’s guests. One of our neighbours, Len O’Brien had drinks with Parkinson at Brisbane’s ‘Lands Office Hotel’. Doug was wearing clothes at the time.
Gold Coast based, former Test lock, Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin joins Peter Psaltis as a commentator on Peter’s ‘Wide World of Sports’, early evening show, on 4BC.
TUESDAY, MARCH 16
My wife Marie and younger sister, Carolyne Soward visit their Uncle Jim Donnelly and Aunty Nancy Landrigan at Casino in Northern New South Wales, dining with Nancy at the Cecil Hotel.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17
Brisbane Lions’ legend, Jason Akermanis tells Radio 4BC’s Neil Breen he dabbled in both rugby codes, but didn’t like being bashed by the Polynesian lads, so stuck with Aussie rules, where, obviously, you don’t have to worry about the Polynesian lads.
The rebranding of Men of League Foundation is the topic of discussion at a forum at Queensland Rugby League headquarters, where I sit between Toowoomba’s Andrew O’Brien and Broncos’ Old Boys Commercial Manager, Lisa Durkin, and have a nice chat with former Penrith grand final hero, Scott Sattler, who is now a private investigator. Gold Coast Titans’ CEO, Steve Mitchell says Men of League is perceived as a bastion of “old white guys”, and questions the absence of indigenous and Pacifica people. Men of League is an organisation, the strength of which is its volunteers, and it is my experience that the Indigenous and Pacifica people are not great at volunteering. I know of some clubs where the playing ranks are almost totally Polynesian, but the administration is made up entirely of old white guys (and girls). I don’t know what is going to happen when the old white guys die! I think it is inevitable that the name ‘Men of League’ will go, to be replaced by something more inclusive, given Men of League look after women and children as well. The name change will not go down well with some people.
THURSDAY, MARCH 18
The 1981 season is the focus of a QRL website item, for which I provide the voice-over, under the guidance of digital content producer, Bill Scurfield. Bill shows me footage of his dad, Terry playing for New South Wales against Queensland at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1971. I notice that Queensland’s indigenous five eighth, Graham Lena, a man I interviewed for Men of League magazine, is busy. Nice chat with QRL journalist, Cameron Stallard, who knows my former Brisbane Brothers and Norths’ teammate, Dennis Moore, from Dennis’s time at Emerald in Central Qld. Cameron hails from Springsure. The likes of ARL Commissioner, Kate Jones and netball legend, Vicki Wilson arrive for a sports lunch at the QRL, as I convene a meeting of our History Committee. Former Cowboys’ star, Gavin Cooper visits east Ayr State School, where our son, Damien is deputy principal. Gavin has a community engagement role with the Cows.
Filming is taking place at Ashgrove Shopping Village as I stop to buy, fish, beef, milk, fruit and vegetables. Don’t know what it is all about. Perhaps a commercial, perhaps a scene from a soapie. My Strawberries are from Wandin in Victoria. On ABC radio, an indigenous fruit grower says bush tomatoes are like ‘normal’ tomatoes. I’m surprised he wasn’t kicked off air for describing something as normal.
FRIDAY, MARCH 19
‘Sunrise’ (Channel 7) reporters make risque jokes about a drenched male reporter, in his wet clothes. They might have been in trouble if they had made similar remarks, in relation to a woman in wet clobber. Legendary Hunter Valley racing commentator, Gary Harley tells 2GB’s Ray Hadley he was based at Murwillumbah for two years, in the bank, back in the mid-1970s. I played alongside Gary at Murwillumbah Brothers’ rugby league club.
After getting my hair cut by Eric Pappas at Stafford, an old ‘foreign’ chap tries to sell me, and a woman, ‘Turkish delights’ as we approach our vehicles in a nearby car park.
QRL GM, Rob Moore says a friend is writing a history of the Point Lookout Surf Lifesaving Club on Stradbroke Island. Point Lookout had strong connections with the Wynnum-Manly Rugby League Club on the mainland. In 1948, Wynnum went to Southport to play for the Riley Cup, and Rob’s mate is trying to find out more about this rugby league competition.
SATURDAY, MARCH 20
Photo of a 1975 ‘Richmond/Clarence’ Anthony Shield teams lob on my phone, courtesy of Greg Grainger from Maitland. The team includes John ‘Chicka’ Ferguson, Tony Boston, Viv Hodge and Steve Bartlett, all names familiar to me. ‘Chicka’, a Grafton product, went on to play for Australia. Tony Boston played at Marist Brothers, Lismore with my younger brother, Jeffrey. Viv Hodge was a legend of Grafton football, while Steve Bartlett made his name at Kyogle. Grainger played against Chicka in a North Coast Knock-Out competition, and boasts that he ran him down. Yeah. Right. The Anthony Shield, named after the famous Tweed Country Party family, was traditionally contested between Tweed and the Richmond. My father, Jon, played Anthony Shield for Richmond. I played the under-18 version (Lascelles Trophy) for Tweed.
Super coach, Wayne Bennett’s former video/stats man, Scott Barker will be G-M of the Papua New Guinea Hunters for the 2021 Intrust Super Cup season. The Hunters, to be coached by Matt Church, will be based at Runaway Bay. Romy Teitzel, the daughter of former Illawarra Steeler, Craig Teitzel, will captain North Queensland in the BHP State Women’s competition.
2GB/4BC ‘Continuous Call Team’ member, Darryl Brohman quizzes NRL CEO, Andrew Abdo about the absence of match programs. It is so sad, but a sign of the times, as the printed word is punted. Canterbury-Bankstown players wear black arm bands in honour of former front row forward and club stalwart, Phil Charlton, for the match against Penrith at Bankwest. Phil played for Canterbury from 1970 to 1978 and then had one season with Newtown and one with Campbelltown City, before retiring. The commentators rave about the high standard of handling in the very wet conditions at Bankwest. Handling is most difficult on days when conditions are humid and showers are light.
A couple of idiots yell out as a minute’s silence is observed at Brookvale Oval, following the passing of Manly legend, Fred Jones, who played three Tests for Australia, and toured France with the 1972 World Cup side. I saw Fred play for Australia in the 1968 World Cup final against France at the SCG. Unfortunately, Manly can’t ‘do it for Fred’, as South Sydney win today’s game 26-12. Souths’ Jaydn Su’a is guilty of a cheap shot, with just one second remaining, with players piling in for a bit of push and shove as a result.
SUNDAY, MARCH 21
There are so many hold-ups in the France v Wales Six Nations Rugby Union match – two minutes of actual play, in 15. South African born and raised, Paul Willemse (France) is sent off for gouging, but the French win on the bell.
Cronulla star, Wade Graham is tearful after his parents present him with his match jersey at Kogarah, on the occasion of his 250th appearance for the Sharks – against the Raiders. Former Australian skipper, Cameron Smith is guest speaker at Currumbin Eagles lunch, fuelling speculation he may turn out for the club in the local league.