SE Queensland, from Millmerran to Yarraman to Gympie
What was your childhood like?
It was tough. One brother and two sisters.
Did you collect footy cards as a kid?
No. We didn’t get a lot of TV, the ABC is all that we saw which was Brisbane football.
What was your first football experience?
I played football when I was four years old. I played for the Millmerran Rams. Mark Murray came from
Who were your football heroes as a kid?
We watched the ABC, the Saturday telecast, I used to like some of the players from Wynnum Manly.
Gene Miles is someone who I respected and would have been my idol.
Tell us about your junior football days?
When growing up in SE Queensland, we could play football, that is what we did. When I was a kid, if I could score ten tries a game I would be happy. That happened nearly every week.
I played for Yarraman and then I went to Gympie and then I went to boarding school in Ipswich.
So what got you to the Brisbane Broncos?
I actually signed with the Canberra Raiders with Wayne Bennett, and then Bennett switched to Brisbane and he asked if I wanted to come to Brisbane and I said OK.
I didn’t do too much schoolwork at Boarding School, I just played sport. They just got me there to play sport. I’d go to breakfast and go back to my room and sleep and wake up at around 2pm and go to an afternoon class and then go to training. That was my life at Boarding School for two years.
I made the Australian Schoolboys Rugby Union side and toured New Zealand. I was noticed from that tour to play for Canberra and ended up coming back and playing for Brisbane.
How was the first year at the Broncos?
Football wasn’t everything to me, football was just a hobby. I could do it, that is all. It wasn’t important to me. I was better at business than I was at football.
Who were your mates at The Broncos?
Willie Carne, I went to Boarding School with him. Johnny Plath was a real good bloke. Andrew Gee. Gene Miles was a good man, I really respected him.
Do you remember your first match in First Grade?
Wouldn’t have a clue.
You were at The Broncos from 1988 to 1993, how did the culture change over the years?
I was there for six years and Wayne was there for that time as well. It was a good learning experience I would say.
What were your thoughts on Wayne Bennett as a Coach, controversially you were left out of the Grand Final side?
To me, Wayne is a hypocrite. He was voted Father of the year for five years. His wife, Trish should have got Mother of the year for five years running.
92’ I was in the Grand Final side and he didn’t put me on. I played 23 games for the year and he put Tony Currie on because it was his last year. In the last ten minutes he didn’t put me on and we were winning comfortably. After the game he came up and said “Listen, I am sorry. You contributed to our game all year, but TC is retiring and that is going to be his last game”.
93’ came along and I was going to Parramatta, so I didn’t get a gig again.
Wayne is for Wayne. People say all this sort of stuff, he isn’t what they think he is. As much as he has done for the game and four teams is good, but he did that for himself. The physiotherapist in Newcastle, that is what I am saying, while Trish has looked after their disabled kid all this time while he just fucked off, so how did he get Father of the Year?
I am just being honest.
What got you to Parramatta?
My move to Parramatta wasn’t the best. I got divorced by my wife who was one of the Broncos owners daughters, Barry Maranta. That is around the time that I went there.
How was it at Parramatta?
We had a coach named Ron Hilditch. Good guy but no idea about coaching. Parramatta had a structure in there where it was just jobs for the boys. We talk about guys like Paul Clarke, Paul Dunn, Scotty Mahon, these guys used to run the training sessions.
Who were your mates at Parramatta?
I met with the boys at Parramatta and we went out and had some drinks and we ordered McDonalds and took it back to our apartment. Parramatta had units across the road from the Leagues Club then. I came back and said “I’ve had enough” and I was lying in the drive way and I have got my burger out and next thing this possum comes down and starts eating the burger off my chest.
Later on the guys said, whatever you do, don’t leave anything open, the possums are insatiable around here.
Scotty Mahon was a good mate of mine. Nobby (Paul Clarke), Smiley (Troy Campbell) and moose (Marty McKenzie) were all good blokes.
How was your time in England?
I went to Widnes after two years at Parra. Those fuckers didn’t pay me. I was supposed to be there for two years, had a two year contract. I stayed there for 6 months, it cost me $40k.
When I signed they were meant to be in Super League but when I got there they had been relegated so they lost sponsorship.
Doug Laughton was the coach, he played for England. He said “We can’t pay you because we have no money. The only way we can pay you is through insurance, so you have to have an injury. So you have a torn hamstring”
They said that I didn’t have to turn up to training so I went to Scotland for a couple of weeks. I went back and said I want to train. They said to me “Due to the fact that you haven’t turned up for training we are going to cut your contract”.
A contract in England was two pages, a contract in Australia was 40 pages.
What got you back to Australia?
Then there was the Gold Coast club and this guy had set up the team (Jeff Muller). They were called The Gladiators. He came back to me with a $200,000 contract. The day I arrived back in Australia and my Wife’s mother picked me up from the airport, we are driving back to Castle Hill and the contract of the Gold Coast Gladiators had been retraced by the ARL.
I arrived on the Gold Coast and they had given me this car to pick up from Benowa Shopping Centre and when I went back to the car, it wouldn’t start. It didn’t have a battery. I rang him up “Jeff, what is going on here mate?
Then he put me into this house and said don’t worry the rent is covered. Then in one months time the Real Estate people came around and said “Sorry, you have to leave the house”. I asked what for and he said “The rent hasn’t been paid”.
Apart from the rocky start, how was your time at the Gold Coast?
I loved the Gold Coast, I lived there for 14 years. You ask me about playing at the Gold Coast, it was probably the best time of my life. I had a good house, had a boat and would often go fishing. It was relaxed.
When the club dissolved and by the time the Titans came around, a lot of those young guys we had with good skill, just disappeared.
A lot of young blokes play football because they think that is going to be their career. I wasn’t like that, since I was 19 years old I had a business. I earnt a lot more money out of business than I did out of football.
Who was your most respected respected rival?
The trouble is I rarely even knew who I came up against. However, when playing for the Gold Coast we played Manly and it was pissing down rain this night. John Hopoate was carrying on after I scored a couple of tries and ran over him. He came out and said something to me, I can’t remember what it was he said but it wasn’t nice. I replied with the cliché “Look at the scoreboard”. He always had the mouth to try and put you off your game.
What are your highlights of playing Rugby League?
Even though we didn’t get celebrated as much as the 1992 First Grade side, it was great to be a part of the 1990 Brisbane Reserve Grade Grand Final win, the Broncos first Grand Final win.
When we came back from Sydney after the 1992 Grand Final, the whole airport was full of people and when we got back to the club and to see Alfie get carried across the whole field was great. Then for me to jump off the stage and fall on the ground. Everybody else jumped off and were carried across.
Who was the best attacking player you came up against?
North Sydney, Second Rower, wirery, he was hard as a rock, Adrian Toole
Who was the best team you played with?
Who was the best team you played against?
I would have to say Manly. At Brookie, Manly were hard.
When did you know it was time to give the game away?
I was 28, I had a couple of knee reconstructions. I was a bit lazy and my business was better, I had to make a decision to keep playing football or concentrate on business, which was making more money.
What was your business back then?
I had an advertising agency. I had a property development company. Dial a drink. A hotel.
What followed after football?
When I finished with the Chargers, I went back to Rugby Union on the Gold Coast. Then I was Coach of the Rugby Union side, we won a couple of Premierships, it was good.
I just kept running businesses and now I am basically just retired.
How about your son Lachlan Maranta?
Yes he played for Brisbane, about 80 games and then he went to the Reds. Signing for the Reds might not have been the best decision. When he signed for the Reds, Greg Martin came out and said “That is the worst signing in history”. At the end of the day, I think Lachlan made the wrong decision. I could have got him a contract at St George with Mary McGregor. He turned it down to get twice as much.
How has the game changed since you played?
It’s fucking soft.
Go back ten years before I played, they would get smashed, get up in two seconds and off they would go again. Now, it is like “Oh, I got tackled”.
I don’t get to see much of it these days. The only game I saw last year was the Grand Final.
Did you keep a scrapbook?
Honestly, I have no memorabilia at all. I never look back. Even this interview today is delving back into the past. I don’t dwell on the past.
What is your favourite restaurant?
We went to it today. Yum Cha, Hurstville.
My absolute favourite is this Boat Restaurant in Thailand which is on the river. They serve the fresh grilled prawns. It is off the charts when you eat it. You wouldn’t have anything like it in Australia.