The Wrap Round 22


The Wrap Round 22


IN the life of a football fan, there are milestones. Your team wins its first title, you watch a player’s first game and then his last and realise you’ve seen an entire career flash by.

Remember when the Morris twins made you feel old because you remember their father, ‘Slippery’ Steve, in his prime?

Well your correspondent has reached another milestone. And it’s not a pleasant one. There is now a fellow in first grade whose GRANDFATHER I saw play. I am officially ancient.

“There’s been a couple of people say that,” Gold Coast centre Jamie Dowling says after the Titans’ 26-16 win over Canterbury at ANZ Stadium in Monday Night Football.

I am pretty sure I had a page in a scrapbook devoted to John Dowling, the former St George hooker who played Origin for Queensland in 1982.

And I’m pretty sure ‘JD’ signed it at Kogarah one afternoon, after he played alongside my PE teacher Brian Johnson. They were contemporaries of Steve Morris, but somehow first grade rugby league skilled a generation.

As a kid, Jamie knew his pop was pretty special.

“Growing up, footy’s been everything in the family and it’s kept me going in the right direction,” says the 22-year-old centre. “But it also has a bit of pressure.

“Pop coached me from under 11s through to under 16s so he was definitely a big influence on my rugby league.

“(People) would say ‘there’s JD, there’s JD’ and stop and have a chat with him – and me along the way.”

Almost three decades before Greg Inglis, Dowling played State Of Origin for Queensland despite growing up in Murwillumbah.

“Pop was born and bred down in Murwillumbah and put on the Maroon jersey,” says Jamie. “I’m qualified as Queenslander to but I was born and raised in Kogarah so I’m a bit of the same situation.

“I moved up to Queensland when I was 10 years old and all my footy from there on has been in Queensland.”

He says a medial ligament suffered in the MNF win won’t keep him out of Saturday’s big derby against North Queensland. “It’s just a medial,” he says.

Football’s got a nasty way of reminding us of the passage of time, even though sometimes its routine and cadence can trick us into believing nothing changes.

After winger Jordan Drew made a tryscoring debut for Brisbane on Sunday, coach Anthony Griffin said: “I remember taking him to some academy sessions when he was 13 years old in Toowoomba.

“Then you’re turning around and picking him in first grade.”

If I’m going to the football when Jordan Drew’s grandson makes his first grade debut … well, I’ll guess I’ll be pretty fortunate, actually.

BEST OF ROUND 22: The performance of Blake Ferguson against Sydney Roosters. He may have been kicked out of the NSW team but he’s an elite player.

WORST OF ROUND 22: Confusion, discord and silliness at Wests Tigers over the future of coach Michael Potter. At least CEO Grant Mayer has now confirmed he’ll be there next year.

WEIRDEST OF ROUND 22: No contest. Sam Burgess’ squirrel grip on Will Chambers. Or was it a Christmas hold? Or just a wedgie?

WHAT I SAW: Gold Coast’s Dave Taylor stand up on the sideline, turn around, and bow to the Canterbury fans chanting ‘Taylor’s a wanker”.

QUOTE OF ROUND 22: “I didn’t put it on facebook or anything” – Brisbane debutant Jordan Drew on keeping his promotion for the game against St George Illawarra secret.