Last night I missed a rare opportunity. Only because I didn't know the opportunity existed.
Wayne Bennett, an Australian football coach I admire enormously, was a speaker at a charity function in Auckland. I would so loved to have heard him. He's not just a master rugby league coach, he's also a master life coach.
As the coach of my hometown team, the Brisbane Broncos, for 21 years his team won six grand finals. As the coach of our State team, his team won five out of seven series, and as coach of the Kangaroos, the Australian Rugby League Team, he built an incredible record of 11 wins and a draw from 15 Tests.
He's been voted Australian Coach of the Year and also Australian Father of the Year. Slowly over the years the general public has learnt more about this very private, notoriously media-shy public figure. About the loving father of two disabled children and the lessons he claims to have learnt from them.
You know how you sometimes read about people "from unlikely beginnings"? To hear about his childhood would break your heart and make you wonder how people lift themselves from such a start and reach greatness. He's five years younger than me and he started work in a bacon factory aged 13. I had no idea that anyone started work at that age in Australia at that time.
When I was in Brisbane on holidays in 1999 (I think) Dad was enjoying reading Bennett's autobiography "Don't Die with the Music in You" and as soon as I got home I ordered it from the library as I couldn't find it in the bookshops. I couldn't put it down!
Now I learn there is another book, "The Man in the Mirror" (the title inspired by the poem below) co-written with sports journalist, Steve Crawley. Another trip to the library coming up!
The Man in the Mirror
When you get all you want and you struggle for self,
and the world makes you king for a day,
then go to the mirror and look at yourself
and see what that man has to say.
For it isn't your mother, your father or wife
whose judgment upon you must pass,
but the man, whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass.
He's the fellow to please,
never mind all the rest.
For he's with you right to the end,
and you've passed your most difficult test
if the man in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world,
down the highway of years,
and take pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
if you've cheated the man in the glass.
Peter "Dale" Wimbrow Sr, 1934