MONDAY, JULY 25
It was 40 years ago this week that award winning journalist, Neil Cadigan, started at Rugby League Week. I had a lot to do with ‘Caddo’ during my time as a rugby league writer, and then as a contributor to the Family of League (previously Men of League) magazine, of which he was editor. We had one run-in along the way – way back in 1985 when Caddo ran an article in League Week in which Queensland star, Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin claimed I misquoted him. ‘Fatty’ said I wouldn’t be on his Christmas card list that year. I wrote a letter to RLW, standing by my story, and emphasising the fact that the next Christmas Card I got from a player, would be the first. Steve Mascord, then a youngster in Wollongong, thought that was a brilliant reply, and remembered my quip, as he embarked on a career in sports journalism.RadioTAB’s American sports expert, Leo Hanrahan has returned from a holiday in Greece and Turkey, where he says Covid is “not an issue”. ‘Saving Lives at Sea’ show on television, features the lifeboat crew at The Mumbles in Wales. Amazing seas. Marie and I walked along the ‘World Famous Mumbles Pier’ in 1977, ahead of a ferry trip from Swansea, to Cork in Ireland.
TUESDAY, JULY 26
Seven Manly-Warringah players have been stood down, because they refuse to wear the Pride jersey next weekend. I tipped there would be problems (ask my wife) with any attempts at a Pride round, or games, because there are so many Polynesians in the NRL, and the concept, I believed, would not sit comfortably with many of them. Former Queensland cricket opening batsman, Andrew Courtice, says: “What’s next? A climate change round.” On NRL 360, former Great Britain prop, James Graham says, who cares what’s on the jersey – just play footy. Former Samoa representative forward, Frank Puletua says it is a religious thing, not a Polynesian thing. He is undoubtedly correct, but, I wonder if Manly’s Polynesians see wearing the jersey as ‘advocating’ a gay lifestyle; just as Sonny Bill Williams saw wearing a jersey with beer advertising, as advocating a boozy culture, far removed from his Muslim beliefs. ‘Independent’ Member for Warringah, Zali Steggall says it is a macho masculinity thing, a widespread problem (she says) in the game of rugby league. Zali is a red hot rugby union person, although she did refer to Manly as ‘the mighty Sea Eagles’, in her maiden speech to Parliament. But I suspect the league boys would be too uncouth for her, as well as being a bit too ‘macho’, compared with the educated ‘rugger’ lads.
On RadioSEN, Mark Braybrook recalls being chased by a woman wielding an umbrella, after he refereed a game of rugby league at Harbord, on Sydney’s northern beaches. I reckon there would be scores of women, in the rugby league playing nations, who have been guilty of the same thing. I knew of one at the Recreation Ground, Tweed Heads, and another, who terrorised players and referees at the Wingham Showgrounds. If footage emerged on YouTube, of their ‘dastardly acts’, it would end their hopes of a career in politics, alongside Zali. Women being ‘macho’?
National Indigenous Times, which is included with the purchase of ‘The Courier-Mail’, contains heaps of Australian rules stories, but no rugby league. That’s hardly ‘national’. Mind you, there’s no rugby union either, but then again, Indigenous sports people essentially ignore union. Marie and I walk Lynda Mcguill Park, as we get to know Samford. Tonight, we watch excellent movie, ‘Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
Marie and I further explore our ‘new’ surrounds in the Samford Valley, this time walking along Camp Mountain Road, and then turning into Peterson Road, walking across Samford Creek, to Coonan Road, past an equestrian set-up, into Wight’s Mountain Road, and then back into Samford village. Marie gets to pat a horse along the way, which makes her day. I have to put stepping stones in-place, for us to cross the creek, without having to take off our boots.
Marie and I watch Australian movie, William Kelly’s War, about a World War 1 sniper. Some of it is set in Proserpine – in North Queensland – but it was filmed in Victoria. A reviewer of the movie, writes that he lasted only an hour, before his ‘patients ran out’.
Learn of the passing of Mick Kallis, who started the famous ‘Mick’s Nuts’ Deli at West End. I played rugby league at Norths Brisbane, with one of his sons, Chris, who had the best nick name – Compass – because he played for Norths, Souths, Easts and Wests. Former Queensland skipper, Cameron Smith has a similar view to me, in regards to State of Origin. He believes players in the New South Wales and Queensland sides must put Australia first, in the eligibility stakes. If they miss out, then they can put their hand up for a ‘second tier’ country. Cowboys’ football manager, Peter Parr is to join Newcastle Knights. Peter is from Newcastle.
THURSDAY, JULY 28
Radio SEN’s Mark Braybrook, talks about the diminishing popularity of squash, as a sport. He recalls it being a favourite second sport for many rugby league players, with Manly-Warringah stars, Graham Eadie and Russell Gartner opening their own squash court complex at Dee Why, on Sydney’s northern beaches. Former Courier-Mail rugby union writer, Frank O’Callaghan also covered squash.
The Roosters beat a brave, ‘spare parts’ Manly side at Brookvale Oval. I get emotional seeing the late Bob Fulton’s grandson, Zac take the field for Manly, in his debut NRL fixture. He goes well, despite being roughed up by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. JWH tries to give him some advice after the game, but Zac walks away, only to be dragged back by JWH, who was determined to get his point across.
FRIDAY, JULY 29
Dual code star, Karmichael Hunt will coach Souths Logan First Grade in the 2023 Queensland Cup, after impressing Magpies’ officials with his efforts with the Colts.
The New South Wales’ Government is to make Murwillumbah High into giant ‘education campus’, incorporating other public schools from the Tweed Valley town. I am told they will even take over nearby Stan Sercombe Oval, home of rugby league, and the scene of some of my greatest triumphs and disappointments, as a player with Brothers. I am told the relatives of the late Stan Sercombe – one of the most distinguished Country Rugby League administrators – are quite upset. Charleville based Laurie Parker remembers playing against Murwillumbah’s John Swift, when Laurie played for Southport. I played against John’s brother, Ray in a Brisbane Reserve Grade match at Lang Park. I got shoved up into the front row, playing for Brothers against Souths, and next thing I am packing down against Ray, who was about 15kg heavier than me. A policeman at that time, he took pity on me, and didn’t pack with any venom, although it was a contested scrum, and force was involved.
SATURDAY, JULY 30
Little kids are playing OzTag on the rugby league field at Samford – it’s the local Stags v Redcliffe. Two blokes, sipping on cans of bourbon and coke, talk in their native tongue (German, I think) outside the Samford Butcher Shop. Marie and I explore the Lacey’s Creek area, near Dayboro. I enjoy a beer with former Test hooker, Greg ‘Turtle’ Conescu at Samford Pub, and win a meat tray in a Stags’ raffle. Greg lives locally, and enjoys a punt on the races on a Saturday. He backs a winner in Adelaide, while I am with him. Greg says the 1984 Queensland Country side, of which he was a member, are to have a reunion soon. ‘Turtle’ played in Gladstone in ’84. Learn of the passing of former Gold Coast Seagulls’ chief executive, Larry Maloney, aged 89. I interviewed Larry many times. On one occasion – this was the 1990s – I rang him and he answered, whispering into the phone, that he was on a flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast, 38,000 feet in the air.
Frances Whiting has an hilarious column in ‘The Courier-Mail’ about the various types of office workers – the gossip, the grouch, the lurker etc. I probably fell into the grouch category.
Shades of Scotsman, Charlie Renilson, when Broncos’ five eighth, Ezra Mam scores a try, placing the ball over the line while on his back, in the match against Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium. Charlie did something similar playing in England, with Halifax, and the photograph brought the ‘snapper’ an award. (Charlie’s son, Simon went on to become a top sports photographer). Tigers’ five eighth, Adam Doueihi is superb and I would have him in the Australian squad. Tigers’ halfback, Jock Madden, a product of the Scone Rugby League Club, also impresses. Broncos’ prop, Pat Carrigan should have been sent off for a hip throw on Tigers’ halfback, Jackson Hastings, who finishes up on crutches. X-rays reveal his leg was broken in the incident. Broncos’ Charleville product, Kurt Capewell risks his ‘street cred’ in his home town, after staying down after what was a ‘soft’ head clash.
SUNDAY, JULY 31
The Leeds-Liverpool Canal features on Great Canal Journeys on SBS. I have walked large sections of the canal, mainly from the Leeds’ end.
Female singer at Little Tree looks like she just got out of bed. She packs up at 4.50 p.m., which is a little early. Maybe she wasn’t well. I saved her dinner from a crow, which was about to pounce as the meal was left on a table, with the singer yet to be seated.
Leeds win in golden point extra time against French side, Catalans Dragons, after being down 30-6, and also down to 12 men. There is the lowest ever attendance for the annual ‘Summer Bash’ in Britain, the Championship’s version of Super League’s Magic Round. I think it has a lot to do with the location – Headingley, in Leeds. There is no novelty value with Leeds, not for rugby league people anyway. Summer Bash was traditionally held at Lancashire seaside city of Blackpool, and was a fun weekend away for supporters. Former Redcliffe halfback, Sam Obst gets an honourable mention – in the television commentary – for his efforts with Whitehaven, in 2004.