IT was way back in 1980 when this reporter, then just a 20-year-old cadet, wandered into Balmain Leagues Club after Chatham High had won the final University Shield rugby league competition played at Leichhardt Oval.
The game was shown live on ABC TV, with Alan Marks the caller and the great Reg Gasnier providing the expert comments. They were enjoying a drink at the club, minding their own business when we walked in. Somewhat sheepishly I introduced myself to Gasnier and asked would he mind sharing his thoughts in an interview on the Uni Shield final and anything else rugby league. I fully expected that the request would be turned down. There were no dramas. Gasnier willingly gave of his time for a good half hour or so. He even shouted a couple of beers once it was all over and asked if I could send him a copy of the paper the interview would appear in.
I spent the rest of the weekend name dropping: "Interviewed Gaz on Friday night,'' I'd tell anyone who would listen.
The report appeared sometime the following week. I was even rewarded with a byline, which weren't always forthcoming back in those days.
Gasnier, known as the Prince of Centres and Puff the Magic Dragon, died on the weekend. He was obviously a brilliant footballer. He was also a gentleman. A now not-so-young reporter can vouch for that.
Walking on the naked side
TAREE West caused the upset of the Manning No 1 pennant bowls season when accounting for Tuncurry in the second last round. It was the only time Tuncurry went under all season.
So we wonder if one Taree West team member went through with his threat.
Apparently he told all and sundry that he'd 'walk through Taree naked' if the West carried the day.
Believe us, it's a disturbing image. With the weather turning chilly he'll be a cold man if he does make the walk.
While on bets, don't think the women's league tag in Group Three Rugby League isn't taken seriously. There was a carton riding on the Wingham-Taree City game last Saturday, eventually won by City.
Well done Bruce
AND as has been the custom in the last few years, Bruce Elliott proved the Times with weekly updates of the pennant season in all grades.
And as ever Bruce offered some fearless predictions at the beginning of the season, the success of which will be noted in next week's issue. We thank him for his efforts and hope he'll be back on board for season 2015.
More cash for Tigers
WINGHAM'S lucrative start to the Group Three Rugby League season continued last Saturday at the Wingham Sporting Complex.
The gate was the clash against the Bulls topped the $2000 mark with one official saying it's the biggest crowd seen at the complex in more than a decade. It was also Old Boys day but they had free admission. By the look of things they also helped pump up the bar and canteen takings as well.
Premier league split
THE Football Mid North Coast Premier League season is just four games old but already it looks as though there could be a repeat of last year.
The top five teams have opened up a bit of a gap on the bottom five. Surprise packets Kempsey Saints sit in fifth place on seven points, with Port FC sixth on four. Defending champions Macleay Valley are notoriously slow starters and they're way back in eighth place with just one win. However, Old Bar Barbarians showed there's still plenty of life in the competition by upsetting hitherto competition leaders Port United.