Almanac Rugby League – On the road

We are under immense pressure to perfect what shapes as a great game. We are in the trusted Commodore heading north. The only friend of the driver is the ABC radio and the pressure is from my obsessive goal to hit Miriam Vale at half-time to have the finest road food in Queensland –possibly Australia (and I am not being parochial)- crab sandwiches from the Claws servo, Miriam Vale. Mud Crab, fresh bread, butter, salt and pepper.

Anyway that’s down the road. We are 10 minutes out of Gin Gin so we are on time. The dial will have to shift from 855AM to 837AM to hear the whole game.

David Morrow and the Wok- in terms of the call you don’t get much better than that. “Hang on Gracie – write that down.”

“What? I’m not doing this all game.”

“That’s too easy for Manly,” I replied. I think I need a new plan. Ballin in. The Wok says you can’t give Manly an easy 70 metres. He is right.

The Commodore is full.  The Golden Girl and I are in the front and Johnnie Walker, Mother Superior and R2D2 are jammed in the back. Fortunately the 2006 Commodore is a comfy vehicle. Note to self – remember to watch the Reed bombed try ninth minute.

Oh no, Copley error Manly 10. This is not what the Broncos wanted without the consummate professional Lockyer.  I announce to all we have passed the 37 km back marker and are on time. I am really hungry now as the Broncs are under incredible pressure. The pitch of Morrow’s voice ebbs and flows with the game but it is all Manly. We are all going for the Broncos, of course, although R2D2 is his usual quiet self.

The Wok and guest commentator Daniel Anderson can see problems for the Broncos. Their analysis is A Grade. We can hear and feel the pressure building. Good radio paints a great picture. 50 km marker. Broncos under great pressure. I am going to ease pressure by working on the order. Oh no! Stewart try off Cherry-Evans. The Wok loved that play. 16 nil.

I’ll try a drinks order. The Golden Girl says she is having the Strawberry milkshake with malt and ice cream. That is comfort food if ever I have heard it. Big cheer – George Rose is on. I’d bet he would love a crab sandwich and a strawberry milkshake. Craig Hamilton lets us know from the sideline that “things are tense Warren.”

We are all subdued.  The commentators are unhappy with the penalty against Thaiday. “That’s 5-1 against Brisbane Warren” says Richard Swenson. A big call again against the Broncs. Hang on, Yow Yeh has scored. The superlatives are flowing. 16 – 4. The Broncos are lifting and we have passed the Colosseum. Still on track.

The game is a contest. You beauty- Mother Superior’s public enemy number one- Watmough has made a mistake. Wok thinks it is Manly’s first. We are all happy. Morrow is getting excited with a Broncos raid and I can see the lights of Miriam Vale. Knock on ruins raid but we are about to be satiated.

Half time and I’ve sent the girl in for the delicacies. The Wok is rating Manly and Hamilton says the score is a good reflection. Wok tells us about completions. Manly 19 out of 21 and Broncos 13 out of 16. Anderson reminds us that a number of teams have come from behind this season. The wind is creating a bit of havoc and all are impressed with Gillett’s game. I am waiting for Gracie to bring the goodies back and the analysis is flowing at a high level. My summation is that it is definitely game on in the second half according to the learned men of the ABC.

The sandwich is sensational. It should be on everyone’s bucket list. I’ve gone the Bundaberg Sarsaparilla. Gracie rates the Milk. Mother Superior is on the Ginger Beer and Johnnie is having a coffee. Just the 43 bean one. No barista required here. Swenson is now giving the stats and we are heading to Bororen. Key stat from Richard is that 5 years ago the Broncs were in a similar position against the Bulldogs and went on to win. Everyone is sick of my requirements to record especially that now some of the finest crab in the country is going to fly around the commodore’s cabin.

The second half started with a bronco’s error. This was followed by a poor play according to the Wok by Thaiday. Silly. Soon after a great try to Hopoate  20-4.  Gloom and doom in the cabin.  But as the commentators say the Broncos just don’t give up. Manly gave a silly penalty and Parker slips a pass to Wallace. Broncos try 20-10. If I was sitting in front of the TV I’d bet that Gus would be saying the Broncos have to score next.

Everyone agrees again -that is the commentators and the crew in the commodore- that the Broncos are still in it. The Wok is raving about Cherry-Evans composure. He reckons if the Broncs had him they would be in it. To ram the point home Gillett kicks out on the full. Soon after Wallace puts up an insipid bomb. Wok is complaining about poor end of set completion and guess what- Cherry-Evans bomb Foran try. Note to self. Watch that tomorrow. 26 -10.

Manly have put in two reportable tackles. Manly madness. A Williams high shot and knees from Matai. Morrow tells us that he has had 21 weeks over six seasons including one suspension already in 2011. The boys say he won’t be playing in the GF. Another note to self – watch Lyons try saver on Gillett. Unanimous- great tackle. Here we go again. Gladstone turn off and David Morrow paints the picture of the signature Broncos try. Sub someone in for Lockyer- my mental picture still has the great Lockyer in the play – Copley in the corner in the70 minute. Parker misses the kick. 26 -14. The door is slightly ajar.

Who got the sweets. Ah Mother Superior. A bag of Marella Jubes. Morrow describes the Broncs as valiant. The Wok saw them as rudderless  (but understandably so). Manly are into the final. 26-14 victors and the Wok thinks they will be good things. Discussion centres on will Glen Stewart coming back make up for the loss of Matai and Williams. I get the feeling Morrow does not like Matai. Finally Wok advises us that there was a formidable group of Beer drinkers in front of him. In their oblivion he salutes them. Boy I feel like a beer. 60 km to go. What a way to spend a Friday night in the car.

Team Manly 26 (Tries: Hopoate(2), Foran, Ballin Stewart Goals: Lyons 3 Field Goals:)
Team Brisbane 14 (Tries: Yow Yeh, Wallace Copely: Parker 1 Field Goals:)

Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
Crowd: 31000
Votes: 3- Cherry Evans, 2-Lyon, 1- Parker
Milestone: Darren Lockyer’s magnificent NRL career is over at 355 games; Manly win their 7th preliminary final since 1975



  1. Road trips and footy. Brill. Standard order for years: toasted bacon, cheese, tomato and onion sandwich and a banana milkshake. Nice reminder of the Marellas as well. More the Clinkers and BBQ Shapes in our household.

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