DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 13 2021
MONDAY, MARCH 29
The NRL is talking about introducing forward pass technology. That will just about be the last straw for me. I am so over technology causing delays in our game. As for forward passes – I have said it many times, that referees must be allowed to back their instincts, and should be instructed to give the advantage to the attacking side. In other words, if the pass is ‘flat’, it is ‘play-on’. Things will even out in the end, as long as the referees are consistent. And please – keep the touch judges out of it. They should concentrate on the touch line and back play.
Former Test lock turned media pundit, Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin rates the Gold Coast Titans’ pack alongside the best in the NRL.
Former NRL and Super League star, Justin Murphy, who now coaches Toulon, says France’s domestic competitions have made gains in terms of public interest, in difficult times.
The State Government announce a three-day lockdown, after 10 new cases of Covid. Panic buying ensues. As someone said to me – if you need 100 toilet rolls for a three-day lock down, you have serious health issues, other than Covid.
TUESDAY, MARCH 30
Former Australian cricket opening batsman, Rob Kerr phones Radio TAB to wish commentator and former teammate, Andrew ‘Dog’ Courtice a happy 60th. I covered the 1985 Sheffield Shield final at the SCG, when Kerr and Courtice opened the batting for Queensland against New South Wales. The match finished in a thrilling draw, which meant NSW won the Shield. The Kerr family have a pavilion named after them at Shaw Park in Brisbane. Rob’s father, Ian was an executive at Queensland Newspapers during my time there. Courtice says Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszcuk worked in the canteen at the Queensland University Cricket Club ground at St Lucia, when she was a student.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31
Rugby League ‘Immortal’, Mal Meninga says his late father, Norm, might have played for Queensland, except for a broken collar bone he suffered in the State titles at Lang Park in 1961. It seems Norm was favourite to occupy one spot in the pack, before the injury. I had sent Mal a photo of his dad playing in those ’61 championships, a pic he hadn’t seen before. Sydney club, Newtown were keen to sign Norm, but nothing came of it.
Murwillumbah rugby league stalwart, Bill Carroll tells me Cudgen Leagues Club was destroyed by fire in May last year, and that Twin Towns Services Club may take over the new premises. I didn’t know about the fire. The last time I was in the clubhouse was back in the eighties, when I caught up with local league identities, as well as former league writer with ‘The Daily News’ at Murwillumbah, Tom Hogan, who was a Tweed Shire Councillor at the time. The funeral of Cudgen League stalwart, John ‘Jethro’ Julius is held today. I think he was foundation secretary of the Cudgen Junior League. Like me, ‘Jethro’ attended a few Hawaiian nights at the Cabarita pub, back in the ’70s.
Gold Coast Titans’ founding chairman, Paul Broughton turns 90, and I wish him happy birthday. Paul responds, and reflects on his time as coach of Brisbane Brothers in 1974, and Murwillumbah Brothers in 1958.
THURSDAY, APRIL 1
Lock down is lifted five hours early. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. A follower of this site, Colin Wick is trying to contact former Test fullback, Frank Drake, who lives at East Brisbane. Colin and Frank grew up together at Annandale in Sydney. I am able to help out.
As I walk down the centre path, which divides our Hermitage Gardens town house estate, a teenage girl throws dog shit, wrapped in tissue paper, over her back courtyard fence, onto, what in effect, is public parkland. No doubt, she is a follower of Greta Thunberg.
Our youngest lad, Lliam tucks into Port Elliott pippies at a Vietnamese restaurant at Darra. At East Ayr State School in the Burdekin Valley, there is an Easter Bonnet parade. Our eldest lad, Damien is deputy principal, and his daughter, Parker is a pupil, and looks so lovely in her bonnet.
FRIDAY, APRIL 2
Former Test lock, Bradley Clyde is a new member of the Men of League Foundation Board.
The Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race gets underway from Shorncliffe. Our accountant, Tim Mead recalls dressing as a pirate when he was kid, as part of the festivities surrounding the race, which is second only to the Sydney to Hobart, in terms of prestige.
Major League Baseball starts in the USA and the weather is minus one for a match in Baltimore. In the UK, The Guardian newspaper carries a story by Gavin Willacy, about the ‘big city’ teams in the English Rugby League Championships – sides like Sheffield, Bradford, York, Toulouse and London – as opposed to some of the ‘small town’ teams, such as Castleford and Wakefield in Super League. In Australia, every kid who has signed up to play Australian rules before today, receives a Sherrin football and a pump. Hard for rugby league to compete with that. Melbourne Storm fullback, Ryan Papenhuyzen scores four tries against the Broncos in Melbourne.
SATURDAY, APRIL 3
FoxSports commentators, Greg ‘Brandy’ Alexander and Michael Ennis predict a long season for the Cowboys, after they are belted 48-10 by Cronulla at Kogarah. New Cowboys’ coach, Todd Payten says he wants to introduce a more up-tempo style to the club. Todd wears his heart on his sleeve, but talks way too long to the players in the sheds after the game.
My wife, Marie’s niece, Kellie Kelly turns 50 today. Kellie was raised at Lismore in New South Wales, but now lives in Tipperary, Ireland after marrying local lad, Alan Kelly. They have two daughters, Liana and Emma.
SUNDAY, APRIL 4
Easter Sunday, and Channel 9 subsidiary station, Gem, shows the Biblical classic, ‘The Ten Commandments’. Good to see that there is some reference to this sacred Christian day, on commercial television.
Brisbane league stalwart, Kevin Brasch recalls the corner posts being embedded on the trotting track at the Exhibition Grounds, when rugby league matches were played there. The grassed playing area wasn’t quite big enough. In the English Championship, Sheffield belt Bradford 50-12 in a battle of two big city clubs.
My wife, Marie and I join our youngest son Lliam; his wife, Channelle; Channelle’s mum, Lillian and our grandsons, Ethan and Connor for an Easter egg hunt at the Surfers Paradise apartment, where the boys are having an Easter break.