DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 31 2021
MONDAY, AUGUST 2
The live streaming of Wally Lewis’s Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture proves a winner, with the Queensland Rugby League’s digital department delighted with the response. There have been 2,600 views, with 7,335 people reached, and 2,477 unique people tuning in (whatever that means). I woke today to live coverage of the Leeds v Warrington Super League match from Headingley, and it was great to hear the Leeds Rhinos’ song belting out from the stands, which previously have been empty, because of this wretched virus from China. Huddersfield born, Harry Newman scores a fine try for Leeds, as league legend, Kevin Sinfield applauds from the stands. Former Canberra Raiders’ halfback, George Williams, a Wigan product, kicks the winning field goal for Warrington. There is a wild brawl in the Wigan v Leigh match, with two sent off.
Here in Brisbane, the council has announced that $400,000 will be spent upgrading the Valley Diehards’ rugby league playing fields at Grange. Former Valleys’ halfback, Trevor Schodel is coaching the Southern Highlands Storm in New South Wales.
Watch Manly v Cronulla match from Suncorp Stadium and Tom ‘Turbo’ Trbojevic acts as a peace maker, as Cronulla centre, Will Chambers mouths off at Manly’s Dylan Walker. I can almost imagine what Chambers would be saying.
Our granddaughter, Parker, says she wants to be a florist, a gymnast and a soccer star for the Matildas.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 3
It is my wife, Marie’s 71st birthday and, aside from myself, her good friend, Margaret Barea is the first to wish her happy birthday. Marie watches tennis from Washington and no-one in the crowd is wearing a mask. The virus is obviously fake news over there.
Former Test winger, Rod Wishart is featured on Andrew Voss’s show, ‘The Fan’ on FoxSport. Wishart, such a lovely bloke, says former Balmain, Wests and Canterbury winger, Ross Conlon was the biggest influence on his career, in terms of goal kicking. Ross was a neighbour or mine at Bray Park, Murwillumbah, in the 1960s, when he played soccer. Wishart said he contemplated a switch to rugby union, with the ACT Brumbies, in 2000. Former Wallaby skipper, Andrew Slacks says the current Springboks v British Lions Test series is ‘appalling’, an embarrassment. “Both halves (in the most recent Test) took 60 minutes to complete,” Slack says. “The outside centres received one or two passes each, in both Tests”.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4
Radio TAB interview former Australian spin bowler, Ashley Mallett about his Neil Harvey book, ‘The last of Invincibles’. A quick footed left hander, Harvey was an attacking batsman, and a fielder of the highest class, helped partly by a background in baseball. He played 79 Tests between 1947 and 1963, and was awarded an MBE in 1964. Mallett does a great voice impersonation of the immortal, Sir Donald Bradman. Ash strikes me as, a little eccentric. The TAB guys also interview Mick Collis about his book, ‘Australia’s Toughest Sports People’ – former South Sydney skipper, John Sattler makes it, of course. ‘Satts’ played 67 minutes with a broken jaw, in the Rabbitohs’ 23-12 win over Manly-Warringah in the 1970 Sydney Grand Final. South Sydney legend, Bob McCarthy told teammates that Sattler had broken his jaw and they had to protect him, “The idea was, we would take the ball up and cut him out of the action,” McCarthy recalled in his book ‘Macca’. “He (Sattler) came in at halftime and said, ‘If you keep cutting me out, I’ll hammer you.’
THURSDAY, AUGUST 5
On SEN Radio, Ian Healy comments about the daily Covid updates by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer. “She tells us something at 10, and it’s twice as bad when Channel 7 News starts.” Victorian Premier, ‘Comrade’ Andrews, announces a seven-day lockdown, from 8 p.m. Language barriers are blamed by some ethnic groups in western Sydney, for a poor take-up, in terms of getting vaccinated, or, obeying Covid rules. One hopes they are not missing out on Government entitlements for the same reason. I once described dog poo bags as the new litter. They have been overtaken by discarded Covid masks – only just, mind you.
Former top television newsreader, Brian Henderson dies, aged 89. His diction was superb. I didn’t realise he was born in New Zealand. I knew him best as host of pop music show, Bandstand, in the 1960s, but, given the amount of time I spent in Sydney, covering rugby league, I also saw him reading the news down there.
QRL Managing Director, Rob Moore announces record participation at community level – 62,330. The largest numbers are in the six years age category, with the biggest increase in the 13-18 years groups. There are 14,970 senior players. Comparisons are made with 2019, not 2020, given 2020 was a write-off, because of Covid.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 6
Sydney Morning Herald carries a nice story about former South Sydney fullback, Eric Simms who is in a hospice, suffering from Alzheimer’s. Adam Reynolds has broken Simms’ record as the club’s greatest points scorer. There is no mention of Simms in ‘The Courier-Mail’ story, but Channel 7’s Chris Garry’s report includes vision of Simms kicking a field goal for Australia in a 1968 World Cup match, against New Zealand at Lang Park.
Netball great, Lisa Alexander says there are so many drills from AFL, that are appropriate to her game. Former Brothers’ winger, Peter Skerman once dubbed AFL as ‘cross country netball’. A book has been written about AFL footy banners. Seriously?
SATURDAY, AUGUST 7
‘Continuous Call Team’ member, Darryl Brohman talks up the Men of League Foundation, after a phone call from MOL Board member, Brad Clyde, re the NRL’s ‘Crazy Socks Round’, which benefits the charity. Melbourne Storm hooker, Harry Grant runs onto the field, still wearing his mask, ahead of the match against Manly-Warringah. He discards it before the
Former England and St Helens’ rugby league star, John ‘Todder’ Dickinson has died . He played five eighth, in a Test against France, in 1956, in Lyon, with the French winning 23-9. His opposite number was Gilbert Benausse, from Toulouse.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 8
Packed stadiums for soccer in the UK and France. Our friends from Tyldesley in England, Terry and Joyce Holmes, are considering selling their house at Villeneuve-sur-Lot in France because, under Brexit ‘rules’, they can only visit 90 days in every 180, and sometimes they like to spend the whole summer there. There are big wraps on St Helens’ rugby league youngster, Lewis Dodd, a product of Halton Hornets in Widnes. Rugby union have him in their sights. St Helens’ fullback, Lachlan Coote will play with Hull Kingston Rovers in 2022.
Marie and I watch the 1987 movie, ‘Broadcast News’, which explores the topic of style v substance, in television news. Good movie, but a little dated now, in some respects.
The Olympics close. I watched a substantial number of events, but not as many as my wife, who particularly liked the equestrian. Swimming certainly grabbed my attention, especially as my former Brisbane Brothers’ teammate, Vince Raleigh, now a prominent coach, has a swimmer or two in the Australian team. I also watched water polo, and it was great to see Australia beat European power house, Croatia. Former Test rugby league prop, Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach’s son, AJ, played for the Aussies, in what was his third Olympics. One of the lowest things I saw at the Olympics was a case of ear biting by a Moroccan, on a Kiwi.
Marie and I also watched skate boarding, but only because Marie’s close friend, Janell Bryant’s nephew, Kieran Woolley, 17, from Kiama, was representing Australia. He achieved a high score, and also took out a cameraman. I must confess, I enjoyed the sport more than I thought I would.