DIARY UPDATE: Week 30, 2021

DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER

WEEK 30 2021

MONDAY, JULY 26

Former Wynnum-Manly premiership winning halfback, Peter Dawes reckons the Seagulls would have beaten Sydney premiers, Canterbury-Bankstown in a challenge match, at the end of the 1984 season. This was a match that I had championed in Brisbane’s afternoon newspaper, the Telegraph, and it had the support of QRL boss, Ron McAuliffe, but the Sydney boys weren’t keen. I believe Wynnum, with the likes of Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Greg Dowling, Colin Scott and Gary Coyne, would have beaten anyone, on their day. They didn’t have the depth to play in the Sydney competition over a long season, but they certainly could have beaten the best of Sydney, in a one-off challenge. Dawes’ viewpoint was expressed in an interview done last week by ‘The Queensland Times’ (Ipswich) contributor, Michael Nunn.

TUESDAY, JULY 27

In his younger days, Keith Edward Rooney looked like actor, Kevin Spacey. Keith, a neighbour and fellow Brisbane Brothers’ rugby league supporter, died earlier his month. His funeral service is held at Albany Creek, with the slide show including many shots from his younger days in Melbourne, where he won an Aussies rules premiership with Coburg North. He was a Carlton fan initially, but supported the Lions when he moved to Brisbane. As I mentioned, he also loved rugby league and his State of Origin parties at his home were the stuff of legend. He was also a keen cricketer and fisherman. Keith’s children, Blake and Elisha give lovely eulogies. Music includes ‘Long Cool Woman’ by ‘The Hollies’; ‘Miss You’ (Rolling Stones) and ‘All My Loving’ (The Beatles). Keith’s wake is held at Stafford Tavern.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 28

Former Queensland prop, Geoff Naylor loves the ‘Flashback’ (on this site), which recalls him kicking the match winning field goal for Easts in a Brisbane club match. “My kids were never sure it was true,” he says. “‘Lindy’ (Wayne Lindenberg) almost over-called me. Johnny Lang was at dummy half, and he said afterwards he passed to me, because I wanted it more.”

Our youngest son, Lliam and I look through old footy cards, and there is one which says ‘John Plath, Broncos’, when in fact, it is John Driscoll. John Driscoll is a neighbour of ours, and is aware of the mistake. “My mates still give me heaps over it,” he says. John’s dog, Lenny is loose on the street as I drive down Uxbridge. I text John to let him know. It all ends well.

Funeral of ex Ipswich Bulimba Cup player, Eric ‘Tex’ Parry, 93, is held at St Mary’s, Ipswich. He was a prop forward with the West End club.

THURSDAY, JULY 29

Former Test second rower, Wally Fullerton Smith had a frosty relationship with Great Britain coach, Maurice Bamford when Wally played at Leeds in the mid-1980s. “I was the only Aussie (at the club) not invited to the Christmas do,” Fullerton Smith says. Mal Clift took over the coaching at Leeds when Bamford took on the national job, and according to Fullerton Smith, Clift did a great job. On the Queensland’s tour of England in 1983, coach, Arthur Beetson, a giant of a man, and a few players had a couple of days R & R in Amsterdam. “The only trouble was our accommodation was on the seventh floor, and there was no lift,” ‘Gator’ recalled. “It was hard for ‘Beetso’ and (trainer) Darryl Gatley (Known as ‘the one tonner’) to climb the winding stair case. ‘Gator’ played club football in France with Mark Wakefield and Richard Clarke. Fullerton Smith has had the same phone number since 1997, when he bought a phone from Chris Johns and Kevin Walters’ Optus store in Brisbane.

FRIDAY, JULY 30

Love FoxSports commentator, Warren Smith’s remark about touch judges coming onto the field, in the old days, “with their flags raised like a Bengal Lancer”. Passing skills in the Warriors v Tigers match at Suncorp Stadium are diabolical. The Warriors showed plenty of ticker to win 18-16, and farewell Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who is returning to New Zealand to play rugby union.

SATURDAY, JULY 31

Wally Lewis delivers the 2021 Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture, although in a different format, with my fellow History Committee member, Steve Haddan interviewing ‘The King’, at QRLCentral, Milton. The ‘Lecture’ is live streamed, with another history committee member, Greg Shannon watching it from a cane paddock in North Queensland. “It was absolutely superb,” Greg says. Former Queensland Rugby League chairman, John ‘Cracker’ McDonald, who coached Lewis in the first Origin match in 1980, is in the audience. He made the trip from Toowoomba with his son, Cr Geoff McDonald. Other attendees, in what is essentially an invitation only affair (because of Covid) include historians, Lyle Beaton and Greg Mallory; Scott Watson (son of Test legend, Alex); and former History Committee chair, Kevin Brasch. Everyone has to exit the room as soon as the lecture is over, because another Covid lock down has been announced, taking effect at Noon. Wally was supposed to present jerseys to the State High First XV Rugby Union side that afternoon, and then fly to Townsville. That won’t be happening. Steve Hadden was supposed to be going to Hamilton Island. Former Queensland centre, Chris McKenna is coaching Iona College’s First XIII Rugby League side.

Former Test halfback, Cooper Cronk has been named as the new Independent QRL director, replacing Ben Ikin, who is now fulltime at the Broncos.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 1

While the majority of Queenslanders adhere to Covid protocols, it appears many people in Western Sydney totally ignore Government directives. There is a neon sign on Webster Road, with a message from Manly-Warringah Rugby League Club, thanking Queenslanders for their support.

Former Queensland Reds’ rugby union coach, John ‘Knuckles’ Connolly has had a fall at his father’s place, and is in the Princess Alexandra Hospital Spinal Unit. ‘Knuckles’ played front row in the Queensland Journalists’ rugby league side in 1979, in a match against New South Wales at Purtell Park, Bardon. We lost. Knuckles was a ‘ring-in’, chosen on the basis of him being a barman at the Journalist’s Club, Bowen Hills. Close enough. Wallaby stars, Paul McLean and Tony D’Arcy worked there too, but we didn’t think we could get away with including them in the side. I was heart broken that we had lost, because it was my third straight loss to the Blues, having been beaten in inter-state matches at Southport (1975) and in Sydney (1976). John Sattler presented the trophy in ’79. I had to wait until 1981 for victory in the inter-state contest, in a match played at Corbett Park, Grange. Graham Lowe presented the trophy this time, and our side included future Gold Coast Titans’ chairman, Dennis Watt.

Peter Skerman (left); Graham ‘Bruno’ Brennan, Len O’Brien and Wayne Mitchell at the wake for Keith Rooney

Footy card which says John Plath, when in fact, it is, John Driscoll

Steve Haddan (right) interviews Wally Lewis at the 2021 Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture

Wally Lewis with his former Queensland Origin coach, John McDonald (left) and former team manager, Kevin Brasch

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