DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 33 2021
MONDAY, AUGUST 16
Queensland Rugby League’s Manager of Government Relations, Arthur Eustace-Earl was a fitness trainer with the famous Valleys’ club in Brisbane in his younger days. He also was involved with inter-faculty Sport at Queensland University, with the likes of Wallabies, Michael Lynagh and Greg Martin. I had a chat today with Arthur about a project involving outgoing QRL G-M, Rob Moore. My Tweed Heads’ based brother, Jeff recalls noted Lismore Marist Brothers’ Rugby League fitness trainer, Tom Sivewright, making the players run from Lismore to Woodlawn College and back, a distance of 10km. Jeff’s favourite teammate was goal kicking back, John Archibald, one of Australia’s first exponents of the around the corner kick. He was a former soccer player.
Goondiwindi sealed the Toowoomba Rugby League minor premiership yesterday, with Glenn McGrady kicking a 50 metre penalty goal, after the fulltime bell, for victory.
Former Wallaby, Toutai Kefu and family members have been stabbed in a home invasion, allegedly by youths of African descent, out to steal cars. I know people who have been involved in several near misses with these African gangs – sorry, you can’t use the word ‘gang’.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 17
Queensland Men of League Foundation National chair, Helen Wood Grant phones to tell me I have been named Queensland Men of League Volunteer of the Year. It is a great honour, and largely a thank-you for my contributions to the Foundation’s magazine over the last decade, as well as a stack of MC jobs. I celebrate with a game of pool at Derek Barea’s place at Bridgeman Downs, with a few other mates.
Former Brothers’ rugby league winger, Peter Skerman recalls walking into Stanthorpe’s Town and Country Hotel to have a quiet beer, when another bloke at the bar had a go at him for not saying hello, given they were mates. ‘Skermo’ did not recognise this bloke, because he had aged prematurely. “He was a forward scout in Vietnam,” Skerman explains.
India beat England at Lords by 151 runs, on the last day. The majority of those in the crowd appear to be of Indian descent. England’s Sam Curran becomes the first man to get a ‘king pair’ at Lords – two golden ducks. (That will make no sense to Americans).
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18
I field a number of congratulatory phone calls and emails, after being named Men of League’s Queensland Volunteer of the Year, including calls from State G-M, Andrew Blucher and fellow Brisbane committee members, Reg Green; Cliff Coyle, Bob Knight, John Driscoll, and my good mate Brian Atherton from Taree. Brian is a former volunteer of the year. Brian reminds me he played for Lancashire under-19s against Cumbria at Whitehaven, back in the late 1960s. He also played at Whitehaven for Widnes’ First Team, and was elbowed in back play by one of the veteran Martin brothers, either Bill or Dickie, he wasn’t sure which one. Brian said it was a six-hour trip from Widnes to Whitehaven in the old days, and he recalls having steak and eggs at a roadside stop on the way. On his FoxSports Show, Matt Johns (and cohort, Bryan Fletcher) claim there are 12 fitness freaks and four pissheads in the ranks of NRL coaches. We can certainly rule out Wayne Bennett as one of the piss heads, although I’m told he once had a beer at Allora.
Former Queensland wicket keeper, Peter Anderson lives in Bermuda, after having coached Afghanistan. Anderson was Queensland’s wicket keeper in the 1980s, but broke his thumb in the 1987-88 season, and his replacement, Ian Healy, went onto represent Australia.
Irrigation/drainage work starts alongside the path dissecting our town house estate, and one of the workmen throws his cigarette butt on the ground. It’s funny how many smokers don’t seem to regard their butts as litter. A neighbour’s dog barks non-stop as the workmen beaver away, just over the fence. “The workmen will be here all day,” the neighbour says to the dog. That should work. Unfortunately, she is away all day, so the dog is left by itself to bark, bark, bark.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 19
Our youngest son, Lliam turns 37 and celebrates with a steak roll at the Breakfast Creek Hotel. Former Test rugby league winger, John Cootes turns 80. Cootes, who was a Catholic priest when he played for Australia, was one of the heroes of the Kangaroos’ World Cup triumph in the UK in 1970. He was born at Maitland in the Hunter Valley. Former Great Britain rugby league rep., Tulsen Tollett is a commentator at the Paralympics. Former St George player, Rex Terp is a Stipendiary Steward at Racing Victoria. Broncos’ skipper, Alex Glenn confirms he will retire at season’s end, and Channel 7’s Chris Garry emphasises that there were no off-field incidents involving Glenn. Sad, isn’t it, that the actions of a few, tarnish the whole NRL playing ranks.
Radio TAB’s Andrew Courtice recalls Arsenal’s Charlie George being one of the big names on Monday night UK soccer, back in the 1970s. He is one of the players I remember from those days.
A bloke at the bar at Stafford Tavern can’t make up his mind about what drinks to order, and a queue forms behind him. He comments to the barman about the annoying people in the queue. I comment, loudly enough so that he can hear, that the queue is made up of ‘annoyed’ people.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 20
Laurie Parker from Charleville sends me a photograph of the Regent Theatre, Murwillumbah, circa 1979. The first movie that springs to mind, from my days as a patron, is Elvis Presley and Ann Margaret in ‘Viva Las Vegas’. The Sunshine Coast’s iconic ‘Big Pineapple’ is 50 years old. Marie and I and the kids had many lovely days at the Big Pineapple Plantation. It is 25 years since the Gary Lawrence coached Toowoomba Clydesdales won the inaugural Queensland Cup competition, beating Redcliffe in the Grand Final.
My English photographer mate, Andew Varley and his wife Sandy host friends, at their Sandsend beach house on the North Yorkshire Coast. One of the guests is rugby league journalist, Christopher Irvine. In 2008 and 2009, Irvine published books based on his blogging at the time. I don’t think I even knew what blogging was in 2008, now I’m a serial blogger.
The State Government confirms that at 4 p.m., Covid restrictions will ease, but masks must still be worn indoors. When it will end!
SATURDAY, AUGUST 21
Former Broncos, Phil Lee and Craig Frawley are dining at Mosconi Restaurant, Fortitude Valley, with their wives, as my wife, Marie and I arrive with my sister, Gay Lynch and her husband, David for lunch. Craig, who lives at Moranbah, asks about our eldest lad, Damien, who he played alongside in the Broncos’ junior system. Marie and I; Gay and David also enjoy drinks at the Queens Arms pub.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 22
Former Broncos’ skipper, Sam Thaiday reckons the Dolphins could be the Penrith of Queensland. The Redcliffe based club will enter the NRL in 2023. Former Great Britain skipper, Tommy Bishop tells the Queensland Times’ Michael Nunn that former Brisbane Norths’ star, Darryl Brohman was like an English forward, only better. Bishop coached Brohman at Norths. Cronulla’s Toby Rudolph is a guest on Channel 9. The winner of the 2018? Duncan Hall Medal as Player of the Match in the Queensland Cup Grand Final, Rudolph is quite a character. Former Australian winger, Ian Schubert is another guest on Nine, on his 65th birthday. Schubert’s last tour was with the Kangaroos to Britain and France in 1982, my first overseas assignment as a league journalist.
St George Illawarra play the Roosters at Toowoomba’s Athletic Oval, which FoxSports’ Andrew Voss describes as a classic suburban ground. I know what ‘Vossy’ means, but to many people on the Darling Downs that would be insulting, given the history of the ground. Marie and I attend Broncos v Warriors game at Suncorp Stadium. Brisbane win 24-22 with Anthony Milford the star. Reece Walsh has a bad day with the boot for the Warriors. Drinks after the game at Iceworks, where a large group of men play a quiz, while drinking sambuca. Former Manly and Australian forward, Ian Roberts is a guest on the Matt Johns show. Some of the highlights of his career stand up well alongside anything from the NRL in terms of toughness, and he was more skilful than most of today’s forwards.
In England, Hull FC chair, Adam Pearson expresses his concerns for the future of the game, given the state of finances, as a result of Covid’s effect on attendances.
Limerick 32 defeat Cork 22 in the All-Ireland Hurling Final in Dublin. Limerick’s Ian Lynch is Man of the match. The referee is Fergal Horgan from Tipperary, the county regarded as the cradle of hurling. As far back as 1887, Michael Cusack, the founder of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) remarked that the championship of Tipperary is almost as good as the championship of Ireland, such was the strength of the game in the county.