|Full name||Douglas Ricketson|
|Born||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
Doug Ricketson (born 1939 in Sydney, Australia), was a rugby league footballer in the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) competition. He played for the Eastern Suburbs and Penrith clubs and is the father of Eastern Suburbs' longest serving player, Luke Ricketson.
A centre, Ricketson was a member of the Eastern Suburbs side that was defeated by St George in the 1960 Grand Final. He also represented Sydney in a match against Great Britain. In 1967, Ricketson played for Penrith in their debut season in the NSWRFL premiership before a knee injury brought about an end to his career.
Formerly an athletics coach at Waverley College, in Sydney, Ricketson spent many years coaching in country areas including Temora where his daughter Kylie was born and South Grafton. Doug Ricketson had two attempts at naming the year his only son, Luke, was born, and still got it wrong.
"It would have been 1971, no it was 1972," he said.
Rugby league records say Luke Ricketson, one of three players making their debut for Australia against New Zealand on Friday night at Aussie Stadium and the oldest in the team, was born on February 5, 1973.
Doug got the place of birth right: Forster-Tuncurry.
"When he went up to Forster with the NSW team before the third State of Origin game, I had a look through the papers but it never got a mention about being his birthplace," Doug said.
"Luke didn't make any fuss about it."
You can excuse Doug for getting Luke's DoB wrong. They are more like mates than father and son, and coaches rarely know the age of their children.
Doug travelled NSW as a captain-coach after playing centre for the Roosters and Panthers, finishing his career at age 37.
In fact, when Luke was 12 months old, Doug spent the year away from home, captain-coaching South Lismore.
"I coached a lot of Aboriginal players at Forster and got on well with them," he recalled. "South Lismore had a lot of Aboriginal players from Cabbage Tree Island and Coraki, so they offered me a one-year contract in 1974.
"But they didn't tell me the team was barred from the town. My players couldn't come into a hotel unless they were with me."
Doug and Luke Ricketson epitomise rugby league's gritty, classless ethos. It is a code that has always chosen the steak over the sizzle, the schooner of beer over the martini.
Why, therefore, has Luke, universally regarded as the most consistent, high work-rate man in the game, taken more than a decade to reach the top?
"Coaches," Doug said.
Unspoken is his disappointment that during the reign of Bob Fulton, Manly's trio of back-rowers - Daniel Gartner, Steve Menzies and Nik Kosef - all made Australian teams ahead of his son.
If Melbourne's Scott Hill was fit, it's likely his former coach at the Storm and the incumbent Australian coach, Chris Anderson, would have chosen the ball-player at lock.
Ricketson snr credits NSW coach Phil Gould with his son's ascension. "Gus gets him in there because he knows he can make 40 tackles and then he juggles the rest of the ball-players in the forwards around him," he said. "Two blokes injured [Ben Kennedy and Craig Fitzgibbon] helped get him over the line, plus [Shaun] Timmins got picked as five-eighth.
"Things fell a bit his way."
Unlike Lleyton Hewitt, Tiger Woods or Pinocchio, Luke Ricketson was not formed on the lathe of his father's ambition.
Doug coached him only once: at Waverley College in the under-13s 800m Combined Associated Schools competition.
Luke won the event and Doug stayed on as the school's athletics coach for five years.
Doug played in three losing grand finals - Roosters 1960 (versus St George, marking Reg Gasnier); Temora (losing by a point to West Wyalong, starring Ron Crowe), and South Lismore (losing to South Grafton, coached by John Brown, father of St George Illawarra's Nathan).
Asked how he felt after Luke's Roosters finally broke through last year, Doug said, "Relief. Just like I did when he finally got picked for Australia."
While Luke has always been a hard hat player, he has had a pretty boy reputation.
"He had the image of the good looking eastern suburbs playboy and probably didn't do himself any favours with all the photo shoots he did," Doug said.
"He was the young bloke in the Tina Turner campaign. The glamour boy who was Bachelor of the Year.
"He was terrific for the league who were trying to get women through the gate but he didn't get any money out of it. He's finished with all that now."
Still, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Doug recalled: "I remember when I was 19 and playing for Easts, down at the Latin Quarter with two glamours, one on each knee, drinking champagne, the table half full of gangsters, and me saying, 'How long has this been going on?"'
The Ricketsons have lived at Bondi for over hundred years but Luke has a home at Clovelly and Doug now lives at The Entrance.
"Bondi's had it," Doug said. "It's not just the Kiwis, it's the backpackers, old cars and mattresses."
But he will travel to nearby Coogee on Friday and visit Luke at the Australian team's hotel.
His life is now the reverse of the pre-Copernican years when he coached in the bush and his son revolved around his world.
Love the game, don't chase the game is his unspoken credo.
It is a silent filament of meaning that hangs from his words - like the unmistakable tail of a Y chromosome.
- Whiticker, Alan; Hudson, Glen (2007). The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. Wetherill Park, New South Wales: Gary Allen Pty Ltd. p. 609. ISBN 978-1-877082-93-1.
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