MONDAY, JULY 11
Former Queensland State of Origin rugby league stars, Michael Hagan and Trevor Gillmeister will be part of Mal Meninga’s Australian support staff, for the Rugby League the World Cup in Britain. Good choices, Mal. Hagan is a guest on SEN’s Sports Breakfast Show. in Origin camp, Queensland coach, Billy Slater shows a 1980 video of the first Origin match, a special I narrated for the QRL. SEN commentator, Bryan Fletcher’s wife’s grandfather was Test referee, Col Pearce. I never knew. Fletcher is a former Australian player. FoxSports’ commentator, Brent Read is home in isolation because of Covid, and his cross to the studio keeps dropping in and out. One of the unfortunate results of Covid is the cross to people on their home computers, with cameras looking up nostrils, and the sound dubious.
England rugby union coach, Eddie Jones concedes rugby union can be a trial for neutral spectators, with their ‘bunker’ taking even longer than League to make calls, along with strange rulings, like deliberate knock-ons. Union diehards will talk about it being like a game of chess, but chess is not a spectator sport.
There are major road works on Mt Glorious, as Marie and I make the ascent for a spot of bush walking.
TUESDAY, JULY 12
Multi-code sports star, Karmichael Hunt is an impressive interview subject on Radio SEN, detailing his studies, and the success of the Mal Meninga Cup (under-18) rugby league side he coaches at Souths Logan.
Former Test five eighth, Johnny Gleeson’s brother, Joe; and sons, Terry and Joe Jnr., are guests of the Queensland Rugby League at the Maroons’ final training run at Suncorp Stadium, ahead of the third and deciding Origin match. It is the QRL’s way of paying tribute to Johnny, who died on Christmas Day, 2021, and was not afforded any recognition at games at the start of the 2022 season. (See ‘Johnny Gleeson Honoured’ on this website). The Gleesons, who have travelled down at their own expense from the Darling Downs, are accompanied by former Queensland player, Reg Cannon, a teammate of Johnny’s at Brisbane Brothers. My former Brisbane Brothers’ teammate, Rod Gillis, is outside the stadium getting a Brothers’ jersey autographed. Former Queensland centre, Brent Tate goes out of his way to say hello as we enter the stadium. Matt Scott says hello as well. They are gentleman. A number of former Queensland players have been recruited to help guide corporate guests through the dressing rooms, and out onto the field. Queensland head trainer, Matt Barradeen sends his best wishes to our eldest lad, Damien and assistant coach, Matt Ballin gives me a wave. Queensland prop, Thomas Flegler hurts his hand – tackling Tino Fa’asuamaleaui – but there are no journalists there to file on-line, because it is a closed session. Coaching staff member, former Qld skipper, Cameron Smith has a long chat to the Gleesons after training, something they really appreciated. I was hoping coach, Billy Slater would come over for a chat, but obviously he didn’t get the message about the attendance of the Gleesons.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 13
Marie and I attend Origin III and Queensland record a courageous 22-12 win over New South Wales. The opening minutes are brutal, with Queensland losing Selwyn Cobbo and Lindsay Collins to head injuries, leaving the Maroons with only two inter-change players for 76 minutes. Sydney scribes, David Riccio and Dean ‘Bulldog’ Ritchie had tipped NSW by 22 and 14 points respectively. “That is as good a Queensland victory as I have seen,” says coach, Slater. Queensland prop, Pat Carrigan is shocked when named winner of the Wally Lewis Medal, as player of the series, with Wally on stage to make the presentation. ‘Geez, what a game,’ says my former neighbour, Len O’Brien, in a text message. Channel 9 commentator, Andrew Johns’, a passionate ‘Blue’, is stunned by the result and finds it hard to contain his anger. There is a reunion of former Queensland Origin Greats (FOGS), with Chris ‘Choppy’ Close – man of the match in the inaugural game – recalling that the Maroons’ first training run – under coach, John McDonald in 1980 – was at Brothers’ home ground, Corbett Park. An under-10s game is played at halftime in tonight’s Origin, but it isn’t a great advertisement for the code – not with several big islanders steam rolling much smaller opponents.
THURSDAY, JULY 14
Blokes selling tickets in a surf life savers’ art union, outside Drake’s store, Samford, explain the monthly commitment required, to a woman who looks totally confused.
Bastille Day crepes are the order of the day at Samford Grove Homestead. Some people really dress up, while Wally Young wears a Melbourne Storm rugby league top. Wally recalls Channel 7’s, Don Seccombe having a few ‘sherbets’ at Wests Leagues Club, Bardon, before driving up ‘the mountain’ (Mt Coot-Tha) to read the news. He never missed a beat. Wally played with Bill McCarron at Wests in Brisbane. Bill was the brother of my former Murwillumbah Brothers’ captain-coach, Ray McCarron. The McCarron family come from Tugun on the Gold Coast, and Wally would stay at the family home on trips south. Another Samford Grove resident, Jill Reeves, lived near former Courier-Mail movie reviewer, Des Partridge. “Des’s house was like a morgue, the day Frank Sinatra died,” Jill says.
Our new fridge is delivered by two blokes, one a dedicated NSW fan, who had been to the game. The other bloke is wearing Broncos’ shorts. Marie and I to Samford pub, which is so quiet. Marie and I watch ‘doco’ about a walk along the Kent Coast in England, from Dover to Deal, one we did, in part, in 1990, with our three children, Melanie, Damien and Lliam.
Today is 60th anniversary of Frank Drake’s famous try, for Australia against Great Britain. Chosen from Brisbane Souths, Drake was the third fullback used by the Australians in the series, with Don Parish (Wests Sydney) and Keith Barnes (Balmain) playing in the First and Second Tests, which Britain won, to retain the Ashes. Australia won the Third Test 18-17, thanks to a sideline conversion of his own try, by lightning fast winger, Ken Irvine. Along the way, Drake had scored one of Australia’s four tries, becoming the first Australian fullback to score a try in an Anglo-Australian Test.
FRIDAY, JULY 15
Family of League State of Origin wrap-up lunch is held at Norths Kallangur club with Paul Vautin, Ali Brigginshaw and Bradley Clyde the special guests. Vautin’s father, George, who lives locally, is there. George, like Paul, played for Wests Panthers.
Our daughter, Melanie Mariotto and her husband, Greg have three lovely days in Bolzano, Italy, where Greg’s father grew up.
SATURDAY, JULY 16
Our youngest son, Lliam attends ‘Old Boys’ day at Nudgee College. I attend local footy – Samford Stags v Aspley – with former Test forward, Sam Thaiday playing for the home side. I watch the match with former Brisbane Wests’ centre, Aldwyn Tong, who worked in the pay office at Queensland Newspapers, when I was a journo. Samford win 22-16.
Bevan French scores a record seven tries in Wigan’s 60-0 win over Hull Kingston Rovers in English Super League. Lancashire play Yorkshire in a semi-final of England Cricket’s T20 competition. The crowd appears to be ‘all white’, which is certainly not a reflection on the population of Birmingham. If Pakistan or India were playing in Birmingham the make-up the crowd would be a whole lot different.
SUNDAY, JULY 17
Marie and I call into Paul Hayes and his twin sister, Clare Alock’s, 60th birthday celebrations at Samford’s CWA Hall. Their mum, Marjorie, was a nurse during the Korean War, and there is a photograph of her at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Marie and I see excellent movie, ‘The Duke’ in the cinema at Samford Grove. Then to Little Tree Restaurant, where there is funky live music.