James Jensen fires out a pass for Redcliffe in a match at Dolphin Oval in the early 1980s


Former Queensland and Australian cricketer, Phil Carlson has died, aged 70. The Courier-Mail’s Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock writes that Carlson would drive the four hours from Childers, north of Brisbane, in his Datsun Z60, to play Sheffield Shield games for Queensland, at the Gabba. Phil, who had been battling dementia since 2013, was close mates with my former Brisbane Brothers’ teammate, Greg Thomas.

Our eldest son, Damien and his wife, Emma are looking to buy a new car, and the salesman they deal with in Ayr (North Queensland) is James Jensen, a former Redcliffe Rugby League player, who says I wrote a couple of stories about him, in the early 1980s. He played first grade, but also won a couple of reserve grade titles with the Dolphins, under the coaching of Trevor Day. Former St George halfback, Matt Head has been appointed coach of Wynnum-Manly. Aussie rules boast that Auskick registrations have reached 55,000 in Queensland.

Marie Ricketts at Gardner’s Falls

The beer tax goes up, and Happy Hour schooners at the Samford pub rise immediately, from $5 to $5.30. I thought they could at least wait until current stocks ran out. But I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation. There is one other drinker in the public bar.


Thick fog blankets Brisbane. Marie and I drive north, from Samford to Blackall Range, via Woodford, where we have morning tea at the bakery, as ‘Hussies’ Cafe is closed – for good. A band plays in the town centre, possibly for our arrival. Howell’s Knob Lookout is the first stop on the Range. After checking into our villa at Tamarind Resort, we walk to Gardner’s Falls. A young bloke at the top of the falls is vaping. Looks so out of place in nature.


There is a couple from Oxford, England at breakfast. Waitress surprised there are not more overseas guests. It is Marie’s birthday and we have dinner in the restaurant. It is also the 90th birthday for Les O’Keefe, a terrific bloke, with a mischievous sense of humour, who I used to catch up with, every now and then, on Fridays at the Crushers Leagues Club, and then the Stafford Tavern.

Marie Ricketts enjoys a cider at Samford Stags’ home game

Our son, Damien’s good mate, Dave Elliott, has been appointed Brisbane Norths’ coach for the 2023 Queensland Cup rugby league season. Dave has been coaching Mackay Cutters. Wallabies’ forward, Rory Arnold was born in Wagga Wagga and raised in my home town, Murwillumbah, where he played rugby league until he was 16, and then joined the Gentlemen of Murwillumbah Rugby Union Club. I hope the name doesn’t imply that the league boys of the town are oafs. Arnold has played for a number of clubs, including Toulouse in France. By the looks of him – he is very tall – he has chosen the right code.


After our return to Samford, I have an appointment with musculoskeletal specialist, Paula Nutting, at Newstead. While driving through Samford Forest, the car in front drifts over the centre lines at least six times, and this is while the driver is going UNDER the speed limit!! As I pull up alongside the car, at the traffic lights, I see the driver is a black woman, singing merrily to herself. Not ‘I’m a Super Woman’, I hope.

Toulouse rugby league player, Olly Ashall-Bott’s girlfriend is English soccer star, Georgia Stanway. Suffice to say, Georgia is more famous than ex-Widnes’ player, Ashall-Bott. Daily Sun (Brisbane) sports’ department journalists have a reunion, and News Ltd heavy, John Hartigan attends. He played a key role in the birth of the Daily Sun, in 1982. Others in attendance include Bernie Pramberg, Brian Burke, Jim Tucker, Gary Smart, Bart Sinclair, David Falkenmire and Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock. It was a formidable ‘team’ and they livened up the sports reporting scene in Brisbane, with competition between ‘The Sun’ and Queensland Newspapers’ rivals, ‘The Courier-Mail’ and ‘Telegraph’, proving intense.

Former World Champion boxer, France born, Johnny Famechon, has died, aged 77. I’m not a boxing expert, but I loved the way he danced around in the ring. I can’t get any more technical than that. (Famechon was five when the family moved to Australia).

Stags’ president, Craig Urquhart and two match officials


Former Test halfback, Greg ‘Brandy’ Alexander says all the (bad) modern tackle techniques have started in Melbourne. ‘Brandy’ and Melbourne Storm legend, Cam Smith had a somewhat heated debate about the topic, earlier in the week. 

‘Two mates Brewing’, from South Lismore, help out the flood affected East Lismore Hockey Club.


Australian import, Jaii Field – a Shellharbour product, is a sensation in Wigan’s big home win over Warrington. It is Warrington’s 150th year, and the match is played for the Locker Cup, donated by a Warrington business.

Former Cronulla star, Adam Dykes’ son, Kade debuts for Cronulla, at fullback. Adam, who played 183 games for the Sharks, is in the stands, along with a host of other former players, on what is the club’s official reunion day. Adam was the club’s player of the year in 2001. The Raiders v Penrith game is so physical. Penrith fullback, Dylan Edwards shows enormous courage, and is the best player on the field. At the press conference, Canberra coach, Ricky Stuart lets go with an extraordinary spray, aimed at Penrith inter-change player, Jaeman Salmon. Ricky calls him a ‘weak gutted dog’. Don’t think I ever heard anything like it, at least not on the record. Ricky’s outburst came after a second-half incident in which Salmon lashed out with his boot, striking his tackler, Tom Starling, in the groin. Salmon was placed on report. (Stuart later issued an apology, but the NRL banned him for one game and fined him $25,000).

The 1972 Australian Schoolboys side has a reunion. News Ltd’s Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield writes that they are possibly the best schoolboys side of all time. That’s saying something, and I wonder if the claim would stand up to scrutiny. For a start, there were no Queenslanders, because of a rift between the Qld and NSW administrations. And English Schoolboy and youth football was at a low ebb at that time. Roy Masters coached the Australian side.

Marie and I attend a Samford Stags’ home game against Banyo. It is not the Stags’ top side, and there are all shapes and sizes out on the field. But they all have a go. One spectator is always yelling ‘number 17′, wanting him to be bashed, for some reason. The referee and one of the touch judges have been grazing in a good paddock. I introduce myself to Stags’ president, Craig Urquhart, who is also ground announcer. Craig’s mother, Margaret, is our next door neighbour.

Lead singer of iconic Australian band, The Seekers, Judith Durham has died, aged 79. Her beautiful voice was unique, and I get teary when I hear her sing ‘The Carnival is Over’. I have a Seekers LP in my (vinyl) collection.

Two old hookers, Bob Jones (left) and Allan Nunan. Former Norths’ prop, Mick Walker and historian, Paul Hayes are in the background


Marie Ricketts in the ice cream stand at the Ekka

Brisbane Rugby League Old Boys’ Day at Redcliffe Leagues Club coincides with a match between the home side and Wynnum-Manly, and the former players are well looked after on the balcony of the Dolphins’ Leagues Club, with Dolphins’ NRL inaugural coach, Wayne Bennett one of those in attendance, which is appropriate, given he played and coached in the BRL in the 1970s and 80s. It is great to catch up with the likes of John Short, Murray Schultz, Allan Nunan, David Wright, Ian Dauth (all former teammates of mine); Trevor Bailey, Greg Oliphant, Geoff Richardson, Bob Jones, Ron Gurnett, Ian Massie, Dave Moffatt, Marty Scanlan, Trevor Day and Mick Walker. Former Norths’ forward, Walker reminds me he played for Huddersfield in England, at the same time as Bennett and Greg Veivers, and was disappointed when they returned to Australia early. Mick went to St Pat’s, Shorncliffe, while his brother, Greg, another renowned Norths’ forward, went to St Columba’s at Albion. Mick had a massive brawl with Brothers’ forward, Bob Cock in a game at Lang Park. Also in attendance at the BRL do, is George Symons, who was famous for his award of a new suit to the player of the round, in the BRL. George is armed with old newspaper advertisements from his days in business.

My wife, Marie is run off her feet, as a volunteer in the ice cream stand at the Ekka (Brisbane Agricultural Show), with proceeds going to Prince Charles Hospital.

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