DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 16 2021
TUESDAY, APRIL 20
The cross country at Murwillumbah High School in the 1960s/early 1970s, was a real ‘country’ course, taking in farmland (owned by the Greshams) and bushland, as well as the school grounds. Many cross-country courses in metropolitan areas are run in parkland, or, in the case of primary schools, strictly within the school grounds. Today, my wife, Marie and I attend the Petrie Terrace State School Cross country, in which our eldest grandson, Ethan is running. The course comprises a lap of the playing field, and Ethan wins. His father, Lliam’s chest swells with pride, as cross country had been his sporting forte at Nudgee College, which he represented in inter-school events, the most testing, the GPS carnival at Ipswich’s hilly, Limestone Park.
Marie and I book into Atlantis Apartments at Marcoola on the Sunshine Coast for four nights. I had a tofu burger at Moffatt Beach on the way up – won’t be making that mistake again. Listen to local radio – Bob and Baby Boomers – and Tremeloes’ 1967 song, ‘Suddenly You Love Me’. I had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and that was one of the songs.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21
The sea is a like a mill pond. It looks like a lake – weird really.
Coffee from ‘Candid’ is lovely. The same cannot be said for the bread from the nearby bakery, which Marie says is the worst ever.
We move rooms at 11 a.m., to escape the noise from the uncarpeted apartment above us. Old Italians own the top deck apartment we now occupy. They even have Frank Sinatra CDs. Watch Helen Mirren movie ‘The Good Liar’.
Former Test rugby league centre, Peter Dimond has died aged 82. I played against Peter in 1973, when he was licensee of the Imperial Hotel, Murwillumbah, and turned out for the Old Boys’ Club. I played for Brothers. We met in a knock-out semi-final and Old Boys fielded a formidable backline, with internationals, Dimond and Ron Saddler, as well as clever five eighth, Neville ‘Knocker’ O’Connor. We won, and then two weeks later beat Tweed All Blacks to advance to the Grand-Final, where we were comprehensively beaten by Seagulls. Dimond played 10 Tests for Australia between 1958 and 1966, all from Wests in Sydney. He was the younger brother of another Australian rep, Bobby Dimond, who I interviewed for the Men of League Foundation magazine. Peter’s son, Craig played for Cronulla, Illawarra and Canberra. After 10 seasons with Wests, Peter Dimond, a Dapto product, moved to Newcastle where he played for Maitland and Souths, before he and his wife, Val moved to Murwillumbah. Peter hosted St George at The Imperial, with the Dragons on an end-of-season trip to the Gold Coast. I was a young journalist with The Daily News, and was able to interview my childhood hero, Graeme Langlands, who was co-operative friendly.
THURSDAY, APRIL 22.
There is a big school of fish out in front of our apartment, and three boats arrive to take advantage. Marie and I see dolphins as we walk the beach. The water is warm, the air cool. We chat to a young couple from Lismore, who have property near Tenterfield.
Watch movie ‘October Sky’, which Marie especially likes. “Shows you what you can achieve, if you keep trying,” she says.
Marie and I enjoy drinks and potato skins at Mudjimba. I reply to a text from Victoria, about the delivery of a heater, and then realise it is probably a scam.
On FoxSports, Matty Johns has an interview with dual rugby international, Karmichael Hunt, who says French rugby union is part time, compared with the NRL. You only have to see some of the body shapes to realise that. Hunt put on quite a few kilos during his stint with Biarritz in the Top 14. St George Illawarra forward, Trent Merrin, who played seven Tests for Australia, announces his retirement, saying the game has passed him by.
FRIDAY, APRIL 23
Hull Kingston Rovers’ winger, Ryan Hall scores his 200th top grade try. I covered the 2006 Tri-Nations Test between Australia and Britain in Sydney, which the Brits won, with Hall scoring two tries.
There is a surf boat carnival at Maroochydore and we see a McMasters Beach (Central Coast of NSW) Surf Boat parked on a side street at Coolum.
I am reliably informed that nurses at Buderim Private Hospital are working 12-hour shifts, without a break.
SATURDAY, APRIL 24
Back to Brisbane and I attend Valleys v Beenleigh rugby league match at Emerson Park, Grange, with the early match played between Valleys’ women’s team and Valkyries, a composite side coached by Wests’ stalwart, Wayne Treleavan. Jamie-Lee Lewis, daughter of former Test captain, Wally, plays for Valleys, as does Ali Brigginshaw, the daughter of another former Qld rep., Larry Brigginshaw. Both dads are there.
SUNDAY, APRIL 25
Marie and I meet our youngest son, Lliam and his two boys, Ethan and Connor at the ANZAC Day Memorial Service at Windsor. Uncle Joe Kirk does a lovely ‘Welcome to Country’. Emma Courtice and Matilda Tull recite a ‘Lest We Forget’ poem they wrote. Windsor Schoolkids perform the Australian and New Zealand anthems and their versions are excellent. Our son-in-law, Greg Mariotto, ex-Australian Navy, wears his medals in Singapore. There is a soccer riot in Sydney – old ethnic tensions coming to the surface on what really is our sacred national day.
Brisbane Easts’ 1991 premiership side has a reunion, and current Queensland coach, Paul Green, the halfback in that side, is in attendance, along with coach, John Lang.