The state-of-origin game was all it was meant to be … OK, that means that Queensland won. The company to watch wasn’t half bad either … Dog and Lethal from Crikey and the lovely Nat (Lethal’s girlfriend), and Connsu and Fullsu from The Age. Lots of beers, wines and some excellent pizzas. We used the local pizza shop, Crust, and had its two Italian sausage version, a garlic prawn (the prawns are really a decent size), a Moroccan lamb and a garlic and cheese. The choices obviously agreed with the troops … it was four empty boxes consigned to the bin.
Because I’m a creature of habit (sometimes), after a few Peronis I opted for some Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch chardonnay, hardly the sort of tipple that goes with the grunt and biffo that is rugby league, but at $29 a bottle, worth every cent. Strangely, there were still a couple of bottles of red left untouched by the masses.
Keeping with the sporting theme, I have talked boxing (I’m a fan) a fair bit since the passing of the great Lionel Rose and related to a mate what was almost my only claim to sporting fame … OK, there have been a few, in my mind at least, and I may get a few on the board at some stage and try not to sound like too much of a wanker.
Some time in the’80s (I reckon it was between marriages, so I was single, which makes it legit to talk about here), I hit the CBD for a feed and a few glasses of wine with friends before heading to the Melbourne Town Hall for an (I think) Australian title fight featuring Lionel’s cousin Graeme Brooke. I reckon I may still have a flyer for the fight somewhere in what I laughably call my archives.
Brooke was an accomplished gloveman, so it was a good thing to have ringside seats and see him in action up close and personal. I somehow managed to be coerced into being the timekeeper for the main event, which, while making me a tad nervous, was pretty cool anyway.
The ring announcer, Howard Leigh, was a good mate of mine. Howard still wears the brightest jackets in history … it was kind of his trade mark.
Anyway, before the Brooke fight, here’s Howard, centre ring, introducing various celebrities and former champs and other pugs to the crowd.
Suddenly, he said something like “And here at ringside is Mick Vaughan, the former heavyweight champion of La Trobe Street (a reference to my start in newspapers as a copy boy at Truth).”
I shit myself, but stood and raised both arms triumphantly and waved to the applauding crowd. Yeah, thanks Howard. No, really, thanks Howard. Needless to say, I also felt pretty safe in the event of any shenanigans that may eventuate. After all, who was ever going to have a crack at a former heavyweight champ? None did.
Brooke won the fight after I managed to get the three minutes right for each of the 10 rounds.
Through Howard at various times I managed to meet a couple of world champs … Barry Michael and John Famechon (my boxing hero) and somewhere I even have George Foreman’s autograph.
I still have a huge video library of some really famous fights and fighters. There are 66 professionally produced tapes and I’d happily part with them for a suitable cash donation (I’ll even throw in a VCR).
My favourite night at the fights (ringside at a Kostya Tzsu world title fight at Docklands Stadium notwithstanding), however, was in’69 at a Festival Hall TV Ringside card.
A six-rounder before the main event was between Hillary Connolly and Nick Neophitou (trained by Arthur Laurie at Fawner from memory) and they belted the living suitcase out of each other for the entire fight, although there wasn’t a drop of blood evident. It was a draw and the crowd showered the ring with money, but not before Connolly copped a coin just over his eye and opened him up. First blood. The fight I think won the TV Ringside fight of the year. It was a cracker.
So too was the main event between a rough and ready Brendon Jackson and a stocky fella called Johnny Infante.
The fought three times for a win each and a draw.
The first (a draw) was the main event that night. Jackson was unorthodox in that he was prepared to try most things to win.
At about halfway through the fight, they got into a clinch from which the ref was having trouble separating them.
He needn’t have worried. Infante exploded out of the clinch and screamed at the referee “He bit me.” Yep, Jackson was a precursor to Mike Tyson … he sunk the choppers … mouthguard notwithstanding … into Infante’s shoulder.
A bite? That’s a segue into having a feed with my youngest son, Joel, the night after origin.
It was great to catch up … I was having a beer when he arrived (OK I really felt like one).
We took a wander to Basillico just up the road from my house … we’d both decided on a chicken parma, he because he loves ’em and me because it’s hangover/comfort food. Yeah, the hangover was lingering from the night before. It was OK (the food) but the service could do with a bit of a spark. There weren’t too many in for the night … but it was still too slow. It didn’t, however, affect the conversation, which, with Joel, is always great. Even a thread about one of his …let’s call her an admirer … who is even following me on Twitter just to see if she can pick up something about Joel. Strange days indeed.
And you’ve gotta love a son (he neither drinks or smokes) who suggests, when it’s time to leave the restaurant, that we should head to the local wine bar for a nightcap or two. I know he enjoys the people at the venue, but he also knows his old man, who likes a nightcap or two.
And so it was. But all to soon it was time for him to hit the road home and do a few zeds … he works ridiculous hours.
And given the excesses of the week, it was time for the old man to do the zed thing too.
And so it was.
ME IN A NUTSHELL
- G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.