Queensland Rugby League historian, contributor and ardent support Mike Higgison, 50, sadly passed away in the early hours of Tuesday May 1 due to an inoperable brain tumour. Fellow rugby league enthusiast Mike Simpson shares a treasured memory of their friendship.
The first time I met Mike Higgison was in 1999. Mike picked me up one Saturday night and we ventured to Pizzey Park for the Great Britain v Burleigh tour match. With Mike a passionate Queensland rugby league fan and me loving all things British rugby league, it seemed a fitting match to attend together.
En route we played a childish game of ‘Guess the jersey sponsors from the 80s’. There were no phones being looked at, no messages to return, no Facebook posts. We simply made good use of the time to talk about all things rugby league.
Interestingly, Mike had the jersey sponsors down pat until one club stumped him. For the life of him, he had memory blank and couldn’t remember the sponsor of the Souths Magpies jersey from 1981. When I was able to provide the answer it was almost like he had lost a quiz show prize worth $1 million dollars.
Truth be known, I think it may have been Mike’s way of letting me win at least one thing from that road trip, because he had me on the ropes the entire time. That memory for me of spending quality time with a quality bloke will always sit in the back of my mind.
When we arrived at the Burleigh game we had dinner first in the bistro. I ordered the fish from memory, but Higgo ordered a huge steak.
“What’s wrong with you mate? Get a decent feed into ya,” he bellowed.
Another thing was that Higgo knew everyone.
“See that bloke over there, he played for Wauchope. And that bloke over there used to coach my mate’s team in Toowoomba.”
His appetite for rugby league was infectious. During the tour game, Mike was on the sidelines absolutely giving it to the Poms from all angles. In fact, there was a heated moment with one Pommie fan that could have erupted, however Mike simmered tempers by saying: “He goes alright though that bloke”. Situation avoided!
As we were walking back to the car after the game, Higgo turned to me and asked if I had grabbed some of the GB vs Burleigh beer coasters on our table. When I said no, he yelled: “What’s wrong with ya? Let’s go grab some!”
Mike loved his souvenirs and mementos.
At one point in our road trip we also switched the radio off and Higgo began belting out an AC/DC track.
After this he said, “Ok, let’s see if we know the words to the old BRL songs”. I was stuck on a few, but Higgo kept punching out the tunes like he was on that TV show Don’t Forget the Lyrics. His profound knowledge was inch perfect, though perhaps not pitch perfect.
As we were drove down the highway, Mike displayed a remarkable knowledge of everyday ordinary things.
“See that bus over there, that was made in the 70s. That place there used to have a sports store back in the 80s. If you head up that road there you’ll come to Slacks Creek’s home ground.”
He was like a walking Refidex and encyclopedia in one. Upon delivering me back to my home, that lasting moment of friendship ended with Mike reaching over shaking my hand and saying, “Good night that one mate, we’ll have to do it again.”
I couldn’t have asked for a more entertaining evening.
Thank you Mike for letting me part of your life mate, it’s something I’ll cherish for ever.
So you take it easy buddy, you’re home free.
Rest in Peace, Mike.