If Wally Lewis is the undisputed king of Queensland rugby league, Wayne Bennett is its god.
The former Maroons and Broncos coach is currently in charge of South Sydney but, make no mistake, Queenslanders still worship the ground he walks on.
So, for NRL WA chief executive John Sackson, growing up in the same little Darling Downs township as Bennett is quite an honour.
Sacko was actually born in Brisbane but his dad moved the family to Allora when he was a kid, and it is where he played his first league game.
It made for a great ice-breaker when Sacko had the chance to catch up with the famously impenetrable Bennett a few years ago.
“I spoke to him about Allora — it instantly caught his attention,” Sacko told Inside Cover.
Allora isn’t much to speak of but it did have two cafes in the main street, Cunningham’s and George’s, that were the source of much debate among locals over which made the better meat pies.
“I always preferred the pies from Cunningham’s and I mentioned this to Wayne and he came back with ‘George … George the Greek’,” Sacko recalled.
Sacko said Bennett then rattled off an anecdote about George’s less-than-impressive customer service skills.
“Wayne laughed. He really had a laugh about George,” Sacko said.
As far as we know, no one has ever seen the seven-time premiership-winning coach smile, let alone laugh, so Sacko should feel privileged, indeed.
Meet the Maroons
Talking about Queensland league legends, you can meet the current crop at a special open training session with the Maroons at HBF Park tomorrow ahead of the historic State of Origin clash at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
After coach Kevvie Walters puts the team through its paces, the entire squad will be available for autographs — including Port Hedland-born superstar Kalyn Ponga — plus there’ll be skills activities, live music, giveaways and more.
The game itself is a sell-out, so this is probably your best chance to get a taste of Origin fever. It kicks off at 4pm and runs until 7pm.
Holding the ball
In The West Australian yesterday there was a fascinating story by court reporter Emily Moulton about a writ lodged in the Supreme Court by a couple suing their neighbours for, among other things, footballs being kicked over their fence by next door’s kids. We’d never heard of such a thing but it was a case of deja vu for one IC reader.
It reminded Rob, a former lawyer, of a client he had 40 years ago.
Only in this instance, the problem wasn’t footies being kicked over a fence, it was the neighbour not returning them when they were.
“(My client) issued a summons in person in the Local Court in Perth against his neighbours, claiming the return of a football and some tennis balls … and he also claimed half the cost of wire netting which he had erected on the dividing fence in an attempt to prevent such incidents (in future),” Rob recalled.
But the neighbour who was keeping the football wasn’t easily intimidated, and counter-sued to the tune of $3000 for the disturbance and disruption to his property by virtue of “the missiles launched over the fence”.
“I advised that the best course of action would be for me to respond by suggesting that the court proceedings were something of an absurdity, so my client would withdraw his claim and the neighbours should likewise withdraw their counter-claim, with everyone returning to good neighbourly friendship,” Rob said.
This proposal was accepted on the condition Rob’s client paid his neighbour’s legal costs of $500, a substantial sum in those days.
The bloke also copped a $200 legal bill from Rob.
“He was somewhat distressed at the costs incurred measured against the value of the football and tennis balls,” Rob admitted.“But he took my advice and paid up. I have no knowledge if “a good neighbourly relationship” was restored.”
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