Tour Log By : Bill Esau
|Dylan Sadd makes a clean break on his way to the line
|Buchanan about to line one up after MSHS rattles up some quick points against Halton
|Saints Gordon Pennington gives tells the boys some of the World Champion Clubs secrets
|Shane and the boys catch up with our Hotel cook, Sue at the big game
COMPLETE TOUR WRAP
This 2007 tour to the United Kingdom has been an opportunity for the participating Year 10 and 11 Mackay State High School Rugby League Academy students to enjoy a special experience that rarely becomes available to rugby league players or indeed sportspeople in general.
The chance to travel to the birth place of the game and to see how the game is played in England as part of a touring team was probably a once in a lifetime experience for these students.
Often, the boys were treated like visiting celebrities in the schools we visited, ex-internationals, super league team representatives, English rugby league officials and local dignitaries attended their games to watch and meet them.
They were treated as internationals when they lined up for the playing of national anthems before a game. During our time in St Helens, Wakefield, Castleford and Widnes the touring party were able to fully experience the local passion for the game and their teams, but more importantly, their hospitality and friendliness.
The final scores in our ‘friendly’ matches were not important but the boys performed quite well, sometimes in difficult conditions, and learnt a lot about the subtle differences of the game in England.
We will always remember our hosts friendship, sportsmanship and hospitality and the nations amazing beauty, history and culture.
Departed Mackay Airport at 6:40 on Friday morning.
The shenanigans started early on Mackay High Rugby League Academy’s inaugural tour of the UK. On the flight from Mackay to Brisbane Shane organised the hostess to broadcast a birthday call for Gordon Reid’s “50th” birthday, Gordon is well short of that milestone.
Rob ‘Cowboy’ McLeod had a few problems with the escalators on the way to the International Airport; he obviously needs more practice mounting those tricky contraptions. Everybody tucked into an early lunch at the airport waiting to go though customs.
Steve from ourfootyteam.com rang to report the setup of the message board and to encourage family’s to leave messages. Just visit ourfootyteam.com and follow the story links to find the message form.
After eight hours in the air we landed in Singapore.
The flight and the food were good, not that Don was enjoying the experience at all, somewhat of a white knuckle flier is our Don.
The boys were pretty good most of them played video games the whole time and hardly moved.
They quite liked the free drinks and it was estimated that Daniel Simeon and Dylan Sadd drank more soft drink than the plane consumed fuel.
Arriving at Singapore Cowboy went to the toilet, when he returned I asked him if it was clean, not really he replied. I went for a look myself and it was probably the cleanest and best smelling toilet I have ever seen. Standards must be pretty high in Tambo.
Even though we were well fed on the plane, in the terminal the boys made a beeline to Burger King (Hungry Jacks) where they reported the burgers were bigger than those in Mackay but you get fewer chips.
The trip from Singapore to London was long but most of us got some sleep, helping to make the 14 hour journey seen like much less than that.
Being experienced jet setters by now the boys were very well behaved, quietly watching movies and playing video games or sleeping. The standard of service, the cabin facilities and food on Singapore Air was excellent.
(cool morning with thickening fog which cleared to a warm fine day with light cloud cover)
We landed in a cool and foggy Manchester on Saturday at about 6:15am local time.
After clearing customs with very little security scrutiny we boarded our bus with Tommy the local driver treating us to a convoluted scenic route on the way to our accommodation in St Helens.
After arriving at the Lindisfarne accommodation we were soon ensconced our very comfortable rooms, the boys on the third floor and the teachers and parents on the second.
We were soon on our way back to Manchester for a tour of Old Trafford, Manchester United’s home ground.
Tony our tour guide was very friendly and told us he had once been to Mackay on a trip up the East Coast of Australia.
He remembered hearing about crocodiles in the rivers and seeing bottles of vinegar on the beach.
The stadium is quite impressive especially the immaculate playing surface.
The displays are remarkable; the amount of silverware alone is quite extraordinary.
The boys got to see the press rooms, sit in the player’s dressing room, walk down the player’s tunnel and beside the hallowed turf, and sit in the players sideline chairs.
Manchester United is quite an incredible sporting organisation that managed to inspire even these dedicated rugby league players.
During the day Patrick O’Hanlon and Shane Szymanski were elected as team co-captains a job which will require them to lead the rest of the squad by example and put them front and centre when presentations and speeches need to be made on tour.
All in all a very successful first day on tour.
(cool morning, warm fine day with light cloud cover)
Day two began with a filling and flavoursome, full English cooked breakfast served in the Lindisfarne cafeteria.
We were then straight on to the Bus for the two hour drive to the historic city of York. During the day we climbed the imposing ruins of York Castle in the centre of the city, completed the York Dungeons tour and the Jorvic Vikings tour and had time to wander the city centres quant shops and market stalls.
Undoubtedly the highlight for some of the boys was a chance meeting with Shaun ‘Kenny’ Jacobson who was shooting a piece for a new television show using one the oldest excavated pieces of petrified faeces that was found in York and is housed in the Jorvik Museum.
Meeting Shaun here was a surreal experience because many of us had just watched his movie Kenny on the plane during the flight over. Shaun was very friendly with the boys and even used some of them in several very funny adlibbed pieces to camera explaining the origins of the exhibit.
He wanted to know all about the boy’s tour and whished them all the best in their games.
|Mackay High and Outwood High Schools after The Match
(Overnight rain, cold morning, scattered showers during the day with heavy cloud cover, windy)
The team had a light skills session on a synthetic playing surface session after breakfast.
We left Lindisfarne on our trusty Selwyn’s Coach at 11:00 to complete the one and a half hour journey to Wakefield in plenty of time for the game at Outwood Grange College.
The boys were treated like visiting rock stars with girls mobbing them and even squealing as they exited the bus?
After a light lunch in the school canteen the boys headed to the changing room then across a footbridge over the nearby motorway to the school’s lush playing fields.
Although there was a little light rain before the game it held off during the contest which was only marred by a cool strong wind that played havoc with kicking in general play.
|Dylan Sadd catches Up With Old Outwood Friends Luke And Lee
The game was played in good spirits with both teams displaying straight hard running and punishing defence.
Outwood Grange handled the conditions better early in the game quickly moving out to a 12 points to four lead within the first fifteen minutes.
Mackay High managed to dominate from this point running out winners with a score of 36 – 20.
Points came courtesy of Nick Reid with 3 tries, Brad Simpson 2, and Callan Peach, Daniel Simpson and Dylan Sadd one each.
Great camaraderie exists between the two schools because of the student exchanges that have been organised. Kelvin, Trent and Jace will be staying with Outwood families and attending the school after the tour.
Grandfather of Outwood exchange student James Staszewsky former British lion Neil Fox, who toured Australia in 1962 attended the game and was very impressed with the efforts of both teams.
This game helped to blow out a few cobwebs for the Mackay High team and a more polished performance should be on display in our next game at Castleford on Wednesday.
A plaque and a tour shirt was presented to the Outwood organising teacher Andy Green and an academy training shirt to the Outward man of the match 5/8 and county player Danny Ansell who showed some excellent skills during the game.
Andy Green presented tour co-captain with an Outwood Grange jersey too be displayed at MSHS on our return. Outwood provided a delicious meal for the tour group in the school’s immaculate cafeteria after the game.
(Rain then scattered showers clearing during the day, fine afternoon)
We headed along the M1 to the Castleford Xtream Centre for some indoor skiing, snowboarding and tube riding; cold but lots of fun.
The boys managed to turn their pound notes into lots of Nike gear at a nearby factory outlet store. Back to St Helens in the afternoon for a soccer game and a gym session.
(fine and clear - cool)
We travelled the motorways to Castleford to play Castleford High today.
Boys are in good spirits after a training session on the St Cuthbert’s oval in fresh conditions this morning. Looking forward to the contest, Patrick pulled up with a sore shoulder after the last game and will sit out today’s game.
Buchanan needed to ice a knee after the Outward game but seems to be moving freely again. Robert complained of a groin pain after training and will start today’s game off the bench.
Lots of us have been having trouble with phone cards, if you haven’t heard from your son this might be the reason. We are also having problems with computer access for the boys at Lindisfarne.
They might get to use them before the end of the week.
I have organised tickets for everyone to Friday nights big qualification semi-final between St Helens and Leeds being played at St Helens.
The two teams are one and two on the ladder with the winner going straight into the final.
The club has been very helpful in providing some discounted tickets. We will also be visiting the club during the day to view their facilities.
Many of the boys have purchased and are wearing Super League Jerseys – mostly Saints jerseys. Most of the locals we meet are big Rugby League and Saints fans.
Even the guides at Manchester United followed the rugby league closely and were very interested in our tour.
Although we left St Helens in fine conditions it was windy, wet and very cold for the start of the Castleford High game.
Mackay High scored the first try with Buchanan Rawhiti going over in the corner but Castleford worked their way into the game with a converted try soon after.
The Mackay High boys worked hard in defence and attack but failed to capitalise on opportunities because of some indiscipline and poor ball control.
The bigger English pack were generally well handled by the visitors but weight of possession eventually told on the scoreboard. Mackay High continued losing possession throughout the game completing only one set in the match.
The Mackay boys made numerous breaks in the match but some exceptional cover defence from the home team kept them in the contest.
A man of the match effort from hulking prop ‘Gibbo’ paid dividends for Castleford in the closing stages of the game allowing them to run out winners in the nip and tuck contest 18 – 16.
Generally speaking the Mackay boys failed to come to grips with the conditions and some refereeing interpretations, but credit goes to the Castleford team and their coach George Panayiotou for their never say die attitude and tough go forward.
Well Done Castleford High, what a great school, thankyou for your magnificent hospitality and for teaching us a few English rugby league lessons. We are all looking forward to seeing you all in Australia soon.
(Tries were also scored by Dylan Sadd and Callan Peach)
(colder over night 6C, fine with a light cloud cover 15C)
|The boys line up for the Beatles Story
We had a short team stroll around the neighbourhood after breakfast this morning to walk out some soreness from the Castleford game.
The boys with injuries seem to be moving around freely.
Robert and Dylan Sadd were taken for a precautionary visit to the Hospital last night.
Dylan has some minor chest bruising and Robert is now taking some anti-inflammatory tablets.
Both seem to be in good spirits this morning.
Dylan Smith received some knees in the back during the game and Jordan had some bruising on his hand, both should be fine for the next game.
We travelled the short distance to Liverpool today with Jack, our best bus driver yet.
Jack pointed out lots of local landmarks to the boys and took us to the docks to see the Beatles Story museum. The tour was very informative and interesting and then we had an opportunity to walk around the many shops in the centre of the city.
Liverpool is an historic city with many imposing old buildings and monuments.
On the way back to our accommodation the boys again managed to turn lots of British currency into sports clothing at a large sporting goods shop called JJB. Many of their purchases will be worn to the big game tomorrow night.
The activities for the day ended with a soccer game on the artificial turf at St Cuthberts.
(cool, fine with a light cloud)
We travelled on a council bus to visit the St Helens RLF club this morning.
We were met there by Gordon Pennington from the clubs support staff.
Gordon was fantastic with the boys talking with them about all facets of the Saints success over the last few years.
Gordon brought out three of the major trophies that the club holds at the moment, the Challenge Cup, the World Club Champions Cup and the BBC Team of the Year Trophy.
The touring party were all able to look closely and get their pictures taken with all the silverware. Gordon then took the boys to the player’s dressing room, the weights room and out into the stands.
Saints facilities are old and due for redevelopment but are steeped in tremendous history. Gordon explained to the boys that the club struggles financially but has developed an operational and coaching model that is paying dividends in club results.
The tour of St Helens ended with a visit to their supporter’s store where the boys did their best to turn around the clubs financial problems.
Back at the ground that night we watched a game between the St Helen’s Academy (U/19) and the Wigan Academy. This was a high quality game eventually won by Saints.
The main game was a very special experience for the boys because the crowd atmosphere is unlike anything we see at games in Australia.
There were a large contingent of Leeds fans there and the singing and chanting started before kick-off and continued unabated until after the final whistle.
The Saints continued their successful season and booked a place in the Cup final with a hard fought and exciting 10 – 8 victory.
Gordon Reid received a happy birthday wish for his sixtieth birthday over the big screen, the ground announcer came over to the fence saying he thought he looked much younger than his age.
|British Lions legend Niel Foxand his Grandson James Staszewsky with Mackay Highs Kelvin Neilson
|Daniel Simeon takes On The Outwood Defence
|Mackay SHS RLA '07 UK Touring Squad & Staff
|Tyler and the Boys wired for sound midflight
|Callan, Dylan, KENNY, Pat & Alex
(warmer, fine and overcast)
We had an early start today with a ten o’clock game at the excellent Halton Stadium in Widnes.
Halton is the name of the council area in which Widnes is the largest town. The stadium is owned by the council who were represented at the game by Councillor Eddie Jones.
Eddie supported local Wade Deacon College teacher and coach Carlton Bramwell in providing this venue for the game and providing a dinner for both teams in the Stadium function rooms after the game.
On a fine and dry track the Mackay High team were able to turn around the poor result in Castleford to record an impressive win 28 – 14.
The Mackay team got on top early with a tries to Brad Simpson and Beven Healey and were leading sixteen points to nil after twenty minutes.
Dylan Sadd, Pat O’Hanlon and Daniel Simeon also scored tries with Dylan Smith and Buchanan Rawhiti kicking goals.
The Halton team played strongly but without much luck against a team determined to make amends for a last start poor performance.
After the game and a hearty dinner, Councillor Smith presented MSHS tour co-captain and player of the match Pat O’Hanlon with a plaque and in turn Pat presented a Mackay High commemorative plaque.
Wade Deacon coach Carlton Bramwell was presented with an MSHS Academy shirt and the English player of the game, Antony Mullaley, a strapping front rower (selected by the MSHS staff) was presented with an academy training shirt.
This was a good result against a team boasting several representative players including one England representative. At dinner that night Gordon Reid was presented with a Chocolate shoe iced with happy sixty fifth birthday.
(cooler (max 15C) fine and overcast)
We departed our accommodation, Lindisfarne in St Helens at about 10:30 with nothing but happy memories.
The Manager Keith was a great bloke for whom nothing was too much trouble. The cooks were also very good and looked after us very well.
In fact we found everybody we encountered in the north to be very friendly and helpful.
Everybody loves their rugby league up here; they just call it rugby because to them there is no other kind.
The people who organised and attended our games went to so much trouble and were so friendly that we are very disappointed to be leaving.
Fantastic motorways all the way to London, we got straight through without any traffic problems in about four hours.
We seemed to be in the centre of the city very quickly with lots of traffic and people on the streets.
The hustle and bustle of Bond Street as we passed through was quite an eye opener for the boys In London we are staying at a youth hostel in Holland Park which is a very affluent area of the city.
There are many expensive cars, homes and exclusive shops in the area and very few fast food places.
There is a local MacDonalds, probably the only one in the world with a full sized grand piano in one corner.
The sleeping accommodation is much more rudimentary than our St Helens home. It is very confined and Spartan but it is fine for our purposes.
The boys have some computers to use, a TV to watch and lots of others students to talk to so there are other benefits.
(cold, heavy drizzle-all day)
Busy day today, started with the London Dungeons Tour after our first trip on the tube (The London Underground).
Most of the boys enjoyed the tour with some amazing photos coming from the ‘hangman’s drop’ ride. After lunch we competed the Jack the Ripper tour.
This tour is presented by a ‘ripper’ expert who took us to the locations of some of the grizzle crimes and buildings from the period.
This was very interesting for those of us with a concentration span longer than a Holland Park squirrel.
This was followed with a tube ride to Waterloo Station and a walk across the Thames for a ride on the London Eye. Tremendous views from the top even though the weather wasn’t cooperating.
(cool, overcast with occasional misty showers)
We had free day today before the last tour game tonight.
There was a short training run on Holland Park Oval in the morning and everyone went their separate ways for some shopping using their unlimited rail and bus passes.
We left the hostel for our trip to Uxbridge at 4:00 arriving at the RAF base with plenty of time to spare. After getting past the guard armed with a machine gun we were soon at the boutique rugby stadium that includes an impressively equipped gym and dressing rooms.
The Australian flag, the Union Jack and the RAF colours were hoisted and both teams walked out and lined up for the national anthems, just like a real test match.
The ‘London and the South’ were a strong team perhaps the best organised we have played.
They play in a style which is similar in structure to our own and the team boasted two England Representatives.
Although the London team scored first the MSHS team soon hit back with converted try to Kelvin Neilsen and were never headed again in the game which finished with the Mackay boys up 28 – 18.
Tries for Mackay High were scored by Beven Healey, Callan Peach and Kelvin Neilsen (2) and a penalty try.
Dylan Smith kicked four goals from four attempts.
The Mackay High team has not been at their best in attack in our games over here but their defensive efforts throughout the tour have been outstanding.
Pat O’Hanlon was again voted man of the match by the opposition coaching staff; the third time for Pat this tour. Jordan Richardson, Matt Tandy, Tyler O’Brien and Jace Sainsbury also had strong games.
Shane Szymanski presented London manager Ian Cairns with a Mackay High Plaque and a Mackay District Junior Rugby League shirt for organising the game.
Mackay High presented an academy polo shirt to opposition player of the match Joe Gaze the London pivot.
The presentations took place in the sports mess where drinks and nibbles were served after the game.
A big thankyou goes to the RAF for making their wonderful facility available.
We also appreciate the efforts of London and The South manager Ian Cairns from the queens Helicopter flight for organising this game.
|Tyler and the Boys wired for sound midflight
|Mackay SHS RLA '07 UK Touring Squad & Staff
|Wade, Dylan, Dylan, Sadd and Nick soak u p t he Atmosphere of the MAN U room
|Kenny discusses the Tour with Kelvin
(warmer, overcast morning with glimpses of sun in the afternoon)
Two activities today, first up we went to the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to get a bit of culture into us.
This was almost impossible for some but the rest of us thought the recreated building was fascinating and the history of the theatre in London was very interesting.
After the theatre we went to the London Duck tour which the boys seemed to enjoy immensely.
Travelling on a world war two vintage amphibious vehicle we drove around some of the cities landmarks before plunging into the Thames for a short trip past the Houses of Parliament.
The tour was conducted by a very amusing and witty guide with an impressive knowledge of all the historic buildings and sites we saw.
Many of the boys found their own way to the tour locations and are now using the tube system like seasoned Londoners.
(Fine and clear)
Busy day today, left Holland Park right after breakfast for a short tube ride to Baker St for a tour of Madame Tussaud’s wax museum.
There were lots of opportunities for the boys to pose and have pictures taken with wax replicas of their favourite famous contemporary and historic personalities.
Everyone had a great time in this amazing place with a collection of figures and settings that has taken years of painstaking work to compile.
After lunch we made the short stroll from Baker St to Lords cricket oval for the museum and ground tour, the location of so many Australian cricketing triumphs.
We had the opportunity to see many priceless cricket treasures in the museum such as, the original ashes urn and one of Victor Trumper’s bats.
On the tour we were able to wander around the Long room, sit in the MCC board room, enter the visiting team’s dressing room and balcony, see the ‘royal’ tennis court, relax in the stands and, climb up to the truly remarkable press centre at the northern end of the ground.
The day finished with some free time for the boys before meeting back at Holland Park.
They are very confident with their use of the underground system now as they make their way in groups around London.
A group of students left the hostel after dinner to attend the cinema complex on the Kensington High Street.
(Fine and clear)
It was a beautiful clear, warm day in London for our last day in this busy city.
No tours were planned today, just free time for the boys to complete a bit of last minute shopping or sightseeing.
Everyone was on time for our meeting back at our Holland Park hostel to catch the bus to Heathrow Airport at 4:00.
Everyone is keen to be home now.
Some of the boys slept right through the 12 hour leg of the trip to Singapore without getting out of their seats.
Many again slept soundly for the majority of the Singapore, Brisbane trip.
Player Points Totals
Pat O’Hanlon 5
Jordan Richardson 3
Nick Reid 3
Callan Peach 3
Dylan Sadd 3
Kelvin Neilsen 3
Daniel Simeon 2
Shane Symanski 2
Tour Try Scorers
Nick Reid 3
Callan Peach 3
Brad Simpson 3
Dylan Sadd 3
Beven Healey 2
Kelvin Neilsen 2
Daniel Simpson 2
Daniel Simeon 2
Rob McLeod 1
Beven Healey 1
Pat O’Hanlon 1