DIARY UPDATE: Week 32, 2021

DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER

WEEK 32 2021

MONDAY, AUGUST 9

My former Telegraph Sports Editor, John Morton described Bobby Banks as the Wally Lewis of his time. ‘Morto’ told me about Banks, in the early 1980s, soon after I transferred from ‘general’, to the sports department. I must confess, I knew nothing of Banks. The only Banks I knew of was Gary Banks, who played five eighth for Australia in the First Test against Great Britain at the SCG in 1966, the first league Test I ever saw on television. We lost. The Queensland Times (Ipswich) rugby league columnist, Michael Nunn has an interview with former Queensland and Australian halfback, Johnny Brown, who says Banks could draw players from 10 metres away, a bit like Jason Smith, I imagine.

A band called the Mangroves have written a song about Bundaberg’s former Australian winger, Les Kiss, who played for his country from North Sydney, after having a season with Valleys in Brisbane, where his game was fine tuned by coach, Peter McWhirter.

Former television commentator, Barry Ross sends me a video clip of a Wigan v Castleford match, in which Castleford’s Lee Crooks scores a vital try. The commentary is amazing. I imagine it must have been for local consumption, as the commentator urges the ref ‘to send the dirty git off’, after a swinging arm tackle by a Wiganer. He calls the ref ‘a dickhead’ after the Wigan player is only sent to the bin. When Crooks scores, the commentator, says ‘What a magnificent try. Shove it up your arse’.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 10

A bloke catches a flathead, as Marie and I walk along Shorncliffe Pier. Naturally, we have flathead and chips when we buy lunch, from Jetty Seafood. Two lads, yabby pumping on a sandbank in Cabbage Tree Creek, hitch a ride on the boat, ‘Impulse’, possibly on impulse.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11

Marie and I bush walk at Chermside West, seeing one kangaroo, along the way, in the heart of Brisbane suburbia. Lunch at Samford Pub, before picking up our eldest, grandson, Ethan, from Petrie Terrace State School. While waiting for class to finish, I read ‘The Courier-Mail’, and one father, comments to his pre-schooler: “See that man. He’s reading a newspaper. You don ‘t see that any more.” Well, I never.

Former Broncos’ Media Manager, Trad McLean texts that former Great Britain Rugby League forward, Dick Huddart has died. Trad, a former South Tweed rugby league player, would see Dick at the South Tweed Tavern, when having a drink with his father, Mick ‘Dolly’ McLean, a former Manly-Warringah star. I write a tribute to Dick (see Vale Dick Huddart’, this website).

THURSDAY, AUGUST 12

Gold Coast Titans’ winger, Anthony Don reports there are six or seven teams in each age group at Burleigh Bears Junior Rugby League Club. Great news.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 13

Sonny Bill Williams is the Southern Hemisphere version of the BBC’s Johnathan Davies. Both men played league and union for their countries, and commentate on both codes, SBW for Channel 9 and ‘Stan’; Davies for the BBC. A neighbour reckons SBW sounds like Mumbles from Dick Tracey. Brad Fittler is guilty of mumbling, and Roosters’ halfback, Sam Walker asks ‘Freddy’ to repeat the question, when Brad interviews him after the Roosters’ 21-20 win over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

It is ‘Women in League Round’, and former Broncos’ skipper, Gorden Tallis comments on what once was the lot of women in the game – working in the canteen, washing the jerseys and cutting the oranges. So true. My mother (Lola Mary Kelly) did two of those things. I don’t remember her cutting the oranges. Times have certainly changed.

Leeds United’s Paddy Bamford is a nephew of former Great Britain Rugby League coach, the late Maurice Bamford.

Una Stubbs, who starred in satirical comedy, “Til Death us Do Part’ – has died aged 84. I liked the show, which explored racial politics, in a way that might not be acceptable now.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 14

FoxSport’s Andrew Voss recalls the early days of the North Queensland Cowboys and club mascot, ‘Outlaw’, the horse. Voss is calling the Cows v Wests Tigers game in Townsville. The Cowboys’ first ever home win was against the stand-alone Wests’ side in 1995. ‘Vossy’ says Cowboys centre, Adrian Vowles rode ‘Outlaw’ into the dressing rooms after the win. But according to ’20 Years in the Saddle’ (Cowboys’ history), ‘Outlaw’ was ridden into the rooms by his handler, Craig Melville. There is a photograph of prop, Andrew Whittington riding the horse in the sheds, as teammates look on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vowles’ story has some truth to it, as he is a bushy from Charleville.

Ryan Matterson becomes the first Parramatta player sent off in 15 years, after he is marched for a shoulder charge on Manly’s Brad Parker. The last Eel sent for an early shower, was Fuifui Moimoi, v Manly in 2006. Reuben Garrick overtakes Matthew Ridge’s record for the most points in a season at Manly. Manly’s Morgan Harper reminds me of Australian singer, Issy Dye.

England’s Guardian newspaper carries a story tipping the demise of some English rugby league clubs, because of the World Cup being put back a year, and the resulting loss of revenue.

Courier-Mail columnist, William McInnes reflects on some of the great television news readers, the likes of Paul Griffin, Melody Iliffe, Jo Pearson and Kay McGrath. He loved their presence and clear pronunciation, the latter a quality sorely missing in many of today’s newsreaders.

The whole of New South Wales is in lockdown. Bloody Covid. Hockey and rugby union grand finals at Taree are cancelled. Only minor stuff, you might think, but the repercussions are immense, considering the hard work of so many people, in organising and preparing for these events. There will be stories like this all over the State.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 15

As usual, there are fascinating callers to Ian McNamara (Macca) on ABC Radio. One lady – Henares – mentions South Sea Islander Day. Her dad had bananas at Dungay and Eungella, in the Tweed Valley, two places I know well, from my time growing up at Murwillumbah. I would cycle to both villages, just for something to do. Another lady phones from Farnborough, near Yeppoon, mentioning self-sufficiency. She makes her own beer and ice cream. Her dad once flew a crop duster under the bridge at Rockhampton, spraying water hyacinth in the Fitzroy River. Nippers (junior surf life savers) return to Alva Beach near Ayr, in North Queensland, for the start of another summer season.

Former New Zealand Rugby League five eighth, Gary Woollard has died, aged 79. He played 10 Tests and 32 other matches for the Kiwis from 1967 to 1971. He scored New Zealand’s try in a 3-all, Third Test draw with France in Toulouse, to complete a unique 1971 Grand Slam Year, when the Kiwis beat Australia at home and Britain and France in away series.

Bobby Banks (arms folded). The other Australian players are (from left) Alex Watson, Kel O’Shea and Harry Wells

Shorncliffe Pier

Outlaw, the Cowboys’ mascot, is ridden in the dressing rooms by Andrew Whittington. That’s Wayne Sing on the left and teammates, Jason Martin and Paul Galea. Handler, Craig Melville, makes sure things don’t get out of control with ‘Outlaw’. Photo from ’20 Years in the Saddle’, by Neil Cadigan, published by Playright Publishing Pt Ltd

Gary Woollard (second from left) at the start of the Kiwis’ 1971-72 tour of Britain and France. The other players are Robin Orchard (left); Graeme Cooksley, Dave Sorenson and Shane Dowsett

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