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Home & away: fragments from an old photo

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John J Murphy - district commissioner, war hero falsely accused, lexicographer and author


PORT MACQUARIE, NSW - I was far from a star player when I ran out for Kone Tigers in the early sixties. I really just made up the numbers, so I don’t deserve a star billing.

When the Papua versus New Guinea rugby league teams were selected, I thought I might be an outside chance of maybe making the seconds.

But when my name wasn't read out, I realised I was going to play in the firsts. That was 1964. At Boroko Oval.

There was a return match at Rabaul. I distinctly remember the smell of sulphur when we arrived at the airstrip at Matupit.

And I remember a party that night and too many SP's and everyone doing the limbo and our front rower Ross Maunsell falling and his knee hitting a ceramic ashtray on the ground and cutting it badly with plenty of blood.

On the return flight, the chartered DC3 hit an air pocket over the Owen Stanleys when we were nearly home.

Passengers impressed against the cabin ceiling and opened stubbies and playing cards strewn everywhere.

My big time league finished when Education transferred me to Kerema where the famous John J Murphy was District Commissioner.

The featured photo is of him with his wife and daughter on the front verandah of their place in Kerema in 1965.

While in Kerema, Ross Maunsell (ex-DCA player) and I got a rugby league competition going with a small number of teams.

We also decided to initiate a ‘Papua’ versus ‘Australia’ match, with the Aussie side made up of patrol officers, teachers and clerks of various age, so we blokes repping for Papua didn't have any trouble winning 20-0.

Not long after, Dad encouraged me to join the Royal Australian Air Force down south as he believed it was a more sound option than staying on in the Territory.

What follows is a photo of the 1961 Kone Tigers team, they were finalists that year.

After consulting with Bev Baumgartner, John Kaputin and Stuart Hawthorne (author of The Kokoda Trail - A History’), I ascertained some names but, as you can see, there are a few missing.

Perhaps some readers can assist identify them. If you can, post them in Comments below.

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Back Row: Grant (Speed) MCleod; Ian Skinner (former Coastwatcher); ____A_____ (glasses); ____B_____; ____C_____; Ron Hawthorne; Wara Wele; Fred Turner; ____D____ ; Ron Southwood; Mick Duffy; Merv McGregor
Middle Row: ____E____ ; ? Southwood; Don Wombwell; ____F_____ ; ____G____ ; Teddy Howell; _____H____
Front Row: _____I____ ; Eric Baumgartner; Dick Gilbert; Russell Hawthorne (ballboy); Eddie Bampton; John Kaputin; Cliff Southwell


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Richard E Jones

Yep, Wazza, I remember Eddie Bampton quite well. Not from 1961 but from the later sixties when I was the Papua Rugby League correspondent .

I wrote match previews for Friday's) newspaper and reports for Mondays - when I began the newspaper was named the South Pacific Post and when I finished that part of my sportswriting career if had become the PNG Post-Courier.

At the time I was also broadcasting about rugby league.

About then (mid-1960s forward) Eddie must have been in the veteran class and Kone Tigers were certainly in the PRL cellar.

But Eddie was well liked and respected by players from the other four clubs: DCA, Paga, Magani-Badili and Hawks. (Not the later incarnation as the Hanuabada Hawks.)

Bernard Maladina

Great historic photo of pioneer rugby league players in PNG. Many thanks for sharing it. 👍

Arthur Williams

While managing Inu Morobi Ltd ('Last Place' - nothing to do with Lae) for Kopiago MP and sometime Education Minister, Aruru Matiabe, I met Stephen Batia.

Stephen was the Tolai manager of our main competitor, Huli Traders Ltd, owned by former Tari MP Sir Matiabe Yuwi (died 6 May 2014).

Stephen to/ld me he had played for a national side, but was it League or Union?

Trade stores were the in thing for MPs it seems as next door to my store and home (previously run by Pasuwe Ltd) was the much smaller store run by serving Tari MP Harulai Mai.

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