DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 35 2021
TUESDAY, AUGUST 31
England Rugby Union coach, Eddie Jones is a guest of Warrington Rugby League for their home match against St Helens. Eddie loves his league. St Helens win 24-14. I like the look of St Helens’ halfback, Lewis Dodd. The Saints’ fans are so passionate. No masks or social distancing. England rugby union legend, Wade Dooley was born and raised in Warrington and played league until he was 19, when he switched to union with Preston. At 6ft 6in in the old money, he was more suited to union. He was renowned for his toughness, and I’m sure he got a lot of that from his league days.
Chat to lifetime friend, Doug Kaden from Lismore, where everyone is in Covid lockdown. Doug says the police have fined a few people for being out and about. Doug and his wife, Rita, recently completed a six-week holiday in Queensland, and had planned to return to Dicky Beach on the Sunshine Coast, before the latest Covid drama.
My wife, Marie and I enjoy lunch at Kedron Farmhouse, and then get a Covid jab at Lutwyche Medical Centre.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
A neighbour’s dog starts barking at 6.32 a.m. My wife gives it the treatment with the garden hose. One of Queensland Rugby League’s great characters, Ron Raper stops for a chat in Lutwyche Shopping Town. He recalls using a megaphone at Lang Park in the mid-1970s, when he coached Wests, to send messages to his players on the field.
Australia’s greatest female rugby league player, Ali Brigginshaw is leaving Broncos Leagues Club, as I arrive for Brisbane Men of League Foundation meeting. She doesn’t look happy, and I soon discover why. The women’s NRL season has been called off! Covid. A National Disability Insurance Scheme television advertisement is being made on the training paddock, with former Test rugby league prop, David Shillington involved.
In Mackay, Roosters’ winger Matthew Ikuvalu scores an amazing try, but the reaction from the fans is so low key. Country, laid back nature to the fore, perhaps. But a bit too ‘relaxed’ for my liking. I don’t know what it would require to get these people up and cheering. The injury-hit Roosters thrash the Raiders 40-16.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3
Coffee with David Graham, and his two grandkids, Dillon and Riley, at Q Roasters, Stafford. David (Q-Rail employee) hands over 1921 programs from the Ipswich Amateur Rugby League, for display in our QRL History Committee historic display at Milton. He found them cleaning a relative’s place at Ashgrove. David was a ball boy in the 1970s, under the direction of famed ‘white coat’, Ken Rodgers. David lost the sight in one eye when he was four, after a stone flew into his eye from his dad’s lawn mower. It was always one of my great fears, when mowing.
Melbourne Storm centre, Justin Olam is penalised for smashing a Cronulla player around the mid-riff, with the player going to the head bin! What is happening to our game? NRL CEO, Andrew Abdo congratulates Storm coach, Craig Bellamy and skipper, Dale Finucane for “19 consecutive, wins in a row.” The new Rex Mossop.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
My sister, Gay Lynch, from Kangaroo Point, has morning tea with my wife and I at Grange. The other day she was told by a bloke at a Gabba bottle shop, that people of African descent, just walk in and take alcohol, and there is nothing the staff can do about it. I bet they’d stop a little old grannie, if she walked out with a bottle of Johnny Walker, without having paid. But I see where the bosses are coming from. They don’t want their staff assaulted. But I hope they are passing CCTV images to police, rather than just copping it. You can bet the corporations will pass on the costs to us.
Marie and I attend Broncos v Knights match at Suncorp, with Brisbane winning 35-22, in what is the farewell match for skipper, Alex Glenn. Knights’ players stay for the presentation to Alex, and there are big screen messages, including one from Brisbane Lions (AFL) skipper, Dayne Zorko. There are people wearing Henny Penny (Knights) jerseys, from the club’s inaugural season – 1988.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 5
Cab to airport and our driver, Wayne has a doll on the dash. Wayne says he has a mask exemption – him, not the doll. Fly to Townsville, and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch in Cameron Park, South Townsville, and then fresh fruit at Gumlu, on our way south to Bowen, where we check into Coral Cove apartment complex, Horseshoe Bay. Takeaway Chinese for dinner.
The Telegraph’s editor at large, Phil Rothfield publishes an old photo, featured on a Resch’s beer commercial, which purports to show a crusher tackle, just to emphasise they have always been around. The action shot appears to be little more than a ‘facial’, in my view. Sorry ‘Buzz’. I think the crusher is a product of today’s gang tackles.