Born at Auburn District Hospital on December 7 1967, at early Christmas gift, weighing in at 7lb 9½ ounces.
I was just 5 years old.
On a day that I wont forget, an older kid named 'Crazy' used his fists to hammer home his personal message that might was right, and the weak are crushed. If Crazy had been dog, Penrith City Council would have put him down for being a menace to society. He was a mean little kid who would sit in the gutter, day by day, waiting for a kid to walk by so he could launch an attack.
On the afternoon that he caught up with me, Crazy ripped in with heavy lefts and rights, and God knows, they hurt. The ferocity of his assault made me cry and had me begging for mercy. Crazy must have had a hearing problem - because he took no notice of my pleas.
I couldn't understand that while I was on the ground being pummeled, his father was 'ringside' watching every moment. The old man seemed content to do nothing bout stopping his budding Mike Tyson from trying to rip my head off. The whole think didn't make sense to me; I thought parents were there to protect all kids.
When I was able to break free I sprinted across the road to a place where I believed no one could ever hurt me - my family's fibro Housing Commission home. I knew if I could make it through the fly-screen door before he caught me, then my mum would protect me from any more pain.
But I got a big surprise. To steal a word from Rex Mossop, Mum was flabbergasted when she saw the blubbering sight before her that day. And it wasn't the monster sitting in the gutter across the street, gloating over his latest victory that she was cranky on. No - it was the innocent party - ME - who copped Mum's wrath.
She told me if I ever ran crying from a blue again then she would give me something to really bawl about!
I didn't have to wait long. The very next day, Crazy came at me snarling and snapping like a pit-bull terrier in a frenzy and I had tears welling in my eyes before we shaped up against one another. I wanted to bolt. I wanted to turn tail and sprint, but when I looked over at our place there was Mum on the front lawn, watching.
She must have sensed my floodgates were set to burst because Mum gave me look as if to say: 'Don't you dare - Mark!' - and that revved me right up. The thought of Mum giving me something to really cry about turned cowardice into courage. This time it was Crazy who succumbed to a volley of punches and he was soon on the ground squealing. My chance to prolong the taste of sweet revenge was short-lived because this time his father moved in and stopped the fight. It didn't matter. I had won and Crazy never picked on me again ...
Mum and Dad paid for my occasional problems though. I went through more shirts than the Incredible Hulk. Inevitably, whenever I got into a stoush my shirt would rip like tissue paper.
When I look back on my childhood days, they were tough days. There were plenty of fears and plenty of tears and worries. But there were also tonnes of laughs, and friends and good times. They were the wonder years - and right there in the middle of them was a game called rugby league .