BRISBANE - One of my most treasured possessions is a photo of the 1976 Kumuls and there, sitting next to me in the row at the front, is Dikana ‘Ten Gun’ Boge.
Dikana was five-eight and I was halfback, and we had also played in those positions for the Papua New Guinea Southern Zone representative rugby league team when we won the inter-zone championship that year. Although I say it myself, I think we were a great combination.
Dikana was fierce, fearless but almost always smiling.
When we last met in Hanuabada almost 14 months ago, it was an emotional reunion.
The ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program had decided that I should do one last TV program on Papua New Guinea and while we were in Port Moresby, Dadi Toka Junior arranged for us to catch up.
I have motor neurone disease (MND) and walk with a cane. Dikana was shocked to see how feeble I was. We shed a few tears together. I was certain that I would be gone long before he was.
So, it came as a bit of a shock when, a few months ago, Dadi Toka Junior told me Dikana was himself suffering from a terminal disease. And when the news came through in the last few days that he had died aged 66, I felt a deep sense of grief and loss.
In reading other tributes I have found out that his nickname, ‘Ten Gun’, had nothing to do with rugby league but is a common nickname for anybody in Hanuabada named Dikana and owes its origin to the reactions some years before of one Hanuabadan youth to a Western movie.
To those of us who played with and against him, ‘Ten Gun’ was a very appropriate nickname. Dikana was always firing on all barrels.
He was a great team man and your own confidence was reinforced because you knew he would never let the side down. He was a punishing defender and very elusive in attack.
That Hanuabada Hawks team in the mid-1970s was a force to be reckoned with. Alongside Dikana, there was the unbelievably talented Guba John, Lohia Daroa, Heni Nou, who was my opposite number at halfback, and a cast of other players who did their club and the village proud.
But of them all my relationship with ‘Ten Gun’ was top.
Hanuabada – indeed the nation of Papua New Guinea – has lost one of the best.
My sympathy goes out to his family and those dearest to him. Dikana, you may be gone but the memories you evoke live on.