DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 15 2021
TUESDAY, APRIL 13
Former Canterbury-Bankstown and New Zealand Warriors rugby league skipper, Steve Price is my interview subject when I MC Men of League Foundation function at Mooloolaba Surf Club. Steve, who played for Queensland and Australia, reveals he is doing a carpentry apprenticeship, at the age of 47. He lost his job as Head of Football at Canterbury in October. Catch up with a stack of people, including former Brisbane Brothers’ forward, Steve Davis; former international, Dan Stains; ex-Brisbane referee, Ian Smith and QRL director, Darryl Van de Velde. In particular, it is great to see Dick Ryan, a friend of my late father-in-law, Kevin Donnelly. I would see Dick at Lismore Golf Club, when my wife, Marie and I visited her parents. Dick, who now lives at Buderim, drank at the club with the likes of local characters, Toby Daley, Geoff Cahill, Paul Gahan and Mick Davis Snr. Dick is a cousin of famous rugby league coach, Warren Ryan, who turns 80 this year.
Also chat to former Queensland Newspapers’ workmate, Peter Dimmick, a printer, who was a stalwart of the Queensland Tigers’ Rugby League Club, and had an off-season stint with Bramley, in England. Peter hosted members of the 1979 Great Britain touring side at his Brisbane home, for a BBQ.
Our eldest son, Damien; his wife Emma and daughters, Parker and Evan are enjoying a holiday at Eungella, at the head of the Pioneer Valley, west of Mackay, in North Queensland. It is pronounced ‘Youngala’, whereas Eungella, just outside Murwillumbah, where I grew up, is pronounced ‘Ewengella’. No correspondence entered into!! Our youngest, son, Lliam and his two boys, Ethan and Connor are holidaying on Fraser Island.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14
Balmain’s 1969 Premiership winning coach, Leo Nosworthy has died, aged 93. I watched the 1969 Grand Final against South Sydney, on television at the family home at 27 Tumbulgum Road, Murwillumbah, hoping like hell Balmain would cause an upset and win. But I wasn’t impressed by their go-slow tactics, with players repeatedly seeking ambulance attention, and bringing into vogue the term ‘The Balmain Flop’.
In Ian Heads’ excellent book, ‘The Great Grand Final Heist’, he wrote that most insiders agreed that Nosworthy was the brains behind the ploy, and some suggested the Tigers had used the tactic on other occasions, during and after the ’69 season. Souths’ winger, dual international, Mike Cleary said it was so different to the way the Rabbitohs went about things, with skipper, John Sattler always telling players not to let anybody see they were hurt. The funny thing was, Nosworthy was as tough as an old boot, when he played for Balmain, and in the bush. But to beat that near all-international Souths’ team of 1969, he knew he had so come up with something out of the ordinary, and the Rabbitohs became frustrated, when they couldn’t get into their attacking rhythm.
A video I helped make, about the 1981 representative season, has gone up on the QRL website, under the tag ‘Foggy Memories’, if you are interested. Bill Scurfield produced the video.
THURSDAY, APRIL 15
A scene from a television show/movie or ad – I presume – is filmed just over our back fence, on the public path dividing our town house estate. The ‘action’ is based around someone riding a scooter. They move to the nearby soccer fields for further filming, looking down the path.
There is a brawl in the stands at Suncorp Stadium during the Broncos v Penrith match, which Penrith win 20-12. Two Maori chaps, and a big fellow of Anglo-Celtic origin, wearing a Broncos’ jersey, are escorted from the stadium by police. One Maori is allowed to return.
FRIDAY, APRIL 16
SKYSPORTS commentator, Ryan Bailey says Hull’s Australian recruit, Josh Reynolds is “a strange cat”.
I enjoy lunch with former Huddersfield rugby league player, Ray Knight at Stella Rossi, Everton Park. Ray has worked in places as diverse as Borneo, Egypt, Laos, Papua New Guinea and, even Hughenden, in his job as a mining engineer. He knocked back jobs in Bolivia and Africa. He played rugby league for Linwood in Christchurch, New Zealand and tells a story about a former player, turned policeman, who arrested an entire colts’ side, for under-age drinking, on their Mad Monday. Sounds a bit like the story of Wayne Bennett, when he was a policeman, pulling over one of his Brisbane Brothers’ teammates for a caution, after he went through a ‘Stop’ sign, after training at Corbett Park, Grange. Could be one of those urban myths. Ray played league against the legendary Malcolm Reilly in under-17s in England, with Mal coming through the system at Castleford.
Samoa have been placed at 50-1 to win the rugby league World Cup. “Insane” says fellow league historian, Lyle Beaton, who believes they have the talent to at least progress to the final.
Have to love cricket commentator, and former player, Andrew Symonds. This is what he had to say during coverage of the Sheffield Shield Final at Allan Border Field, Albion (formerly home of the Valley Diehards’ rugby league club) : “There is plenty of room at AB Field. The kids can have a run around, while dad has a quiet beer and mum has an ice cream, or whatever.’
SATURDAY, APRIL 17
My wife, Marie and I have a look around Samford Grove Retirement Village at Samford, to Brisbane’s west, with Sales Manager, Desley Arnold our guide. We are tempted to move there, because we love the community feel of Samford, and the fact there are stand-alone, one level homes in the complex. With my wife, Marie now 70, she is worried about the stairs in our Grange town house.
Enjoy a few drinks at Happy Valley Brewery, Stafford. I have Chinook Pale (5 percent) while Marie tucks into a cider (7.1 percent).
The Wests Tigers v Souths game in Sydney is amazing, with Tom Burgess scoring the winning try in extra time. It is a fiery affair, with something on the go at every turn.
‘The Courier-Mail’ carry a feature on former Wallaby, Brett Sheehan and his mental health battles. I remember him turning up at the Broncos as a kid, fresh out of a rugby union private school in Sydney, with his dad, for talks about a contract. I think his dad was a commercial pilot. Anyway, some were predicting he was the next big thing, which is a terrible burden to carry. He played a handful of first grade matches for South Sydney.
SUNDAY, APRIL 17
My wife, Marie does her bit with the Grange Forest Bush Care Group, including digging out Guinea grass and lantana. There is a good roll-up of volunteers, including a couple of young people.
Canterbury-Bankstown forward, Jack Hetherington is sent off for a high tackle on Cowboys’ star, Valentine Holmes, with one television reporter describing it as a ‘vicious’ tackle. By today’s standards, maybe, but certainly not by the standards of say, 1969, when the Balmain flop was employed. The game steps up a gear after the Hetherington/Holmes incident, thank heavens.
News Ltd’s Leisa Scott has an in-depth interview with Australian swimming legend, Dawn Fraser. I always enjoy Leisa’s writing.
Queensland win the Sheffield Shield, but, in an even bigger cricket event, at Home Hill in North Queensland, the Canefield Ashes carnival comes to a close. Our son Damien, a teacher at Ayr, on the other side of the Burdekin River from Home Hill, was one of the players, and finishes a hectic weekend with a groin injury. He took a bundle of wickets, but didn’t get among the runs.