John Maguire in action for Cronulla


Marie Ricketts and son, Damien outside St Paul’s Anglican Church, on Samford Market Day

The Brisbane Rugby League Team of the Century is chosen by members of the QRL History Committee, of which I am chairman. The ’round table’ consists of yours truly; Steve Haddan, Paul Hayes, Greg Shannon and Michael Pease. I will leave the naming of the team to another diary update. Besides – I have to run it past committee members who could not attend the meeting, held in a coffee shop, at Kelvin Grove. There are so many things to consider. For instance, there are a host of players who have captained Australia, from Brisbane clubs. How do you omit any of them from a squad of 17 or 18? We also have to name the coach of the century; referee and administrator.

There is a Doctor Alex Watson, in Samford. Not to be confused with the former Test rugby league centre of the same name, who played in the BRL with Wests, and obviously is being considered for the Team of the Century. And what about Gene Miles, Mal Meninga and Chris Close, I hear you ask?


The Australian’s chief rugby league writer, Brent Read covers the national schoolboys titles, rather than the Queensland State of Origin side’s trip to Warwick, for the ‘Fan Day’. Mind you, with News Ltd papers now sharing resources, rather than competing, it might have been a logistical decision. It is also a who’s who of rugby league officials and talent scouts at the schools’ event. The New South Wales State of Origin side, travels to Kingscliff, via flood damaged, Lismore. Billy Moore attends the Warwick Fan Day, as does the local Thistle Pipe Band. Evidently $20,000 has been raised for junior rugby league on the southern Darling Downs, as a result of the Maroons’ visit.

Samford’s Main Street in bygone days

Cadeyrn Neville, 33, has been chosen for the Wallabies. His Test debut – against England – will be his first 80 minutes of football (he hopes) in 12 months. Says it all really. The Wallabies are just not match hardened, like the league boys. Neville played rugby league for Narraweena, on Sydney’s northern beaches, as a young man.


Former Brisbane Wests, Valleys and Brothers’ lock, John Tapp is my interview subject at Outside In, Grange. John recalls former Queensland State of Origin halfback, Ross Henrick’s ruthless streak, and how big forwards – the likes of Kelvin Kerr and Bob Arnold – often came off second best, in clashes with a man known as ‘The Angry Ant’.

Learn of the passing of former Cronulla and St George forward, John Maguire. Born in Junee, in the Riverina, Maguire was raised in the Sutherland Shire. He played second row in Cronulla’s 10-7 loss to Manly-Warringah in the 1973 Sydney Grand Final. A school teacher, he became principal of De La Salle Cronulla High School.


Greg and Melanie Mariotto enjoy the Austrian F1

England Rugby Union coach, Eddie Jones says he would love to coach the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL, but it won’t be happening. Another rugby Jones tried his hand at league coaching (with Balmain) and we all know how that turned out. The Men of League Foundation ask me to edit their national magazine, now that Neil Cadigan is stepping down. I decline. My wife, Marie would have killed me if I had taken on that extra responsibility.

Chat to former Queensland forward, Reg Cannon, who reminds me, he has had a few pubs, one of them the Phoenix in Gympie, which he said had a few mullock heaps outside, from the gold mining days. “It was a lovely old pub,” Reg says. “We lived upstairs.” Greenslopes State School’s class of 1963 will celebrate a reunion next year. A former pupil is former prominent Brisbane rugby league player, Noel Cowell.


Our grandsons, Ethan and Connor enjoy beach combing at Shorncliffe. We all enjoy fish and chips from Shelley Inn. The boys’ dad, Lliam spends two hours in line at a car wash, with three police in a car behind him. Don’t know how three coppers can justify two hours in line, for a car wash.

Junior rugby league players parade before the Broncos v St George Illawarra match

Learn of the passing of American actor, James Caan. I loved him in 1976 movie ‘Rollerball’.


The bell at Samford Uniting Church is originally from Tannymorel, near Warwick. Volunteers from the church look after the sausage sizzle at Samford Markets, in the grounds of the church. Cyclists are not happy when they have to stop for my wife, Marie and I at a pedestrian crossing. Hello! It is the main street of a busy village – there are three pedestrian crossings on a street which is only 550 metres long. For the length of that street, cyclists – and motorists – should be should be going slow enough, so it is not a drama to have to stop.

Marie and I have fish and chips at Brighton, after dropping Damien at good mate, Ben Ebert’s place, before Damien’s flight back to Townsville.


A bloke from Mission Beach in North Queensland phones ‘Macca’ (Ian McNamara) on ABC Radio, from Forbes, on his way back to North Queensland with a load of ice cream. He will fill up with bananas, and then head south again. ‘Macca’ plays Graeme Connors’ song, ‘This is a Dangerous Time’ (which it is), and reminisces about shows at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads. Marie and I saw Connors in concert at Twin Towns, many years ago.

Our daughter, Melanie Mariotto and husband, Greg attend the Austrian Grand Prix. Marie and I attend Broncos v St George Illawarra match at Suncorp Stadium. Members of Broncos’ inaugural premiership side from 1992, are special guests. Future Broncos’ skipper, Darren Lockyer watched the 1992 decider on television, from his home at Roma. He was 15 at the time. Rugby League ‘Immortal’, Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns says Broncos’ halfback, Allan Langer was his hero. ‘Alfie’ was Joey’s ‘roomie’ during the 1998 Trans-Tasman Test series. Junior league players are walking a lap as Broncos’ halfback, Adam Reynolds practices goal kicks. Reynolds calmly pots one from the sideline, with the kids right beside him, and they go nuts. The Broncos win easily, much to the delight of the ‘Old Boys’. I covered the 1992 Grand Final for ‘The Courier-Mail’, along with Paul Malone and Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock. St George Illawarra’s former Bronco, Tariq Sims is today’s villain, sin binned twice by referee, Grant Atkins. Broncos’ lock, Kobe Hetherington, a copy book tackler, upends Tariq in a beauty. Four blokes sitting behind us, one a former television cameraman, I think, are quite funny with their quips. Ambulance officers and police have to deal with a medical case near us.

Courier Mail front page 1992

As we leave the stadium, there are kids in Wests Panthers’ gear playing an impromptu game of footy on the forecourt turf, which is appropriate, given it was once Wests’ first grade training ground. A lass walking her dog, gives me a ‘Grace Tame stare’, as pedestrian lights fail to change to green. She obviously thought I hadn’t pressed the button, but it just wasn’t our turn, for some reason.

Learn of the passing of former Queensland centre, Colin Quinn, who played for the Maroons in the 1950 inter-state series, and also represented Queensland against the British touring side that same year. He was chosen from the Ipswich CYMS club. Colin’s son, Greg, also played for Queensland – in the 1979 Inter-State series – from Brisbane Brothers.

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