My dad raised me to love sports. As soon as I could hold a plastic bat in my hand, he was pitching a plastic ball to me. When he thought I was old enough to appreciate going to a game, I went to my first college basketball and football games. I love watching sports (on TV or live) and prefer college to the pros.
It should come as no surprise then that I adore Australian sports. Four years ago while I was in Brisbane, I attended two Aussie Rules games and by default became a Lions fan.
I was also introduced to rugby league when I was invited over to someone’s apartment to watch State of Origin. What is Origin? On a good night, only one of the most fantastic games you’ll every witness! It’s a best two-out-of-three series in which players representing Queensland (the Maroons) face off against players representing New South Wales (the Blues). It’s a hugely exciting event and it’s hard not to get sucked in when you’re watching it. Whether you’re a rugby league fanatic or someone who prefers poker.de to players charging across the field, you’ll enjoy State of Origin. Even though blue is my favorite color, when in Brisbane, do as the Queenslanders do! I bought myself a “Property of QLD” t-shirt an hour before the game and headed to my friend’s place. We didn’t expect the Maroons to win as the Blues had won the series the previous 3 years and they’d already won the first match of the series. To my delight, the Maroons won that game, and I was HOOKED on Origin. So much so, that as soon as I got home a couple of weeks later, I subscribed to Setanta Sports so I could continue watching the games in the years to come
Even when abroad, I’ve made sure to watch every game! When I went to London in 2007, Dave, Katie, and I went to the Walkabout pub.
Weeks later Queensland won the series for the second year in a row in an absolute nail biter. A quote I’ve held onto from a news report at the time sums it up best:
“ANOTHER Origin, another coronary. Rugby league’s answer to the double bacon cheeseburger served up more heart attacks yet again as Queensland outlasted New South Wales 10-6 in Sydney to clinch the 2007 series.”
In 2008, Nicole and I were in Barcelona, and we met Jon at the pub…we watched the game with him even though he’s a Blues fan Queensland lost that game but went to take the series for the 3rd year in row!
In 2009, the Maroons won the series for the 4th year in a row, which was unprecedented for either team! So this year the pressure is on for the Blues to take the series back and for the Maroons to make it FIVE IN A ROW!
Knowing that I’d be headed to Oz, I bought tickets very early to sit in the Queensland Supporter Bay for games 1 and 3…which just happen to be in Sydney. Nothing like being in enemy territory for your first Origin experience
I didn’t know until I got to the stadium, but Origin is celebrating its 30th year, right along with me If that wasn’t cool enough, I made it on TV!! I had hoped to get to know some of the folks beside me, and with a few rogue Blues fans on on side, I started chatting with a nice couple on my other side. Within minutes of the game starting, they received a flood of texts and voice mails saying they’d been spotted by friends and family! In a crowd of 68,000+, and sitting in a group of maroon shirts and wigs, it must have been a close up for them to be recognized!! If only I could have seen a recording
I don’t have photos from the game (yet) since it was pouring buckets all day and I sadly (and wisely) opted to leave the camera at the hostel. Thankfully my new friends took some and plan to email them soon.
With the rain, everyone wore ponchos or rain jackets….except for this one lady several rows in front of us who insisted on popping up her large umbrella whenever there was the lightest drizzle. A man a few rows back would yell out repeatedly, “NO UMBRELLA AT THE FOOTY” but she ignored him and the others chiming in. I know it’s wet and kind of miserable lady, but you’re blocking the field for the rest of us who are happy to be here and getting wet too.
My biggest disappointment? The stadium was ENTIRELY too quiet. I was actually shocked. Origin is the type of thing where people go absolutely nuts supporting their team. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was because the Blues, with the home field advantage, still felt they’d lose again. Whatever it was, the first half was a let down — you could have heard a pin drop!
The best bits? I met an Aussie in the restroom who was tickled pink that she’d met an American who loves footy and supports Queensland. On our way back to our seats she told some folks “Here’s an American Queenslander!” and I got cheers and a high five :-). Later in the 2nd half, the crowd started to get into the game a bit more. Lockyer (♥) and Thaiday scored their tries directly in front of us! And the Maroons dominated the 2nd half to take the game. I joined hundreds of voices in chanting “Queenslander!” countless times…only it sounds like “Queenslanda” with the accent
While this first game wasn’t the wild, thrilling match I’d hoped for, I love that it was a victory for Queensland…just one more win and it’s FIVE IN A ROW!
Here’s a recap on YouTube…it won’t stream for me at the moment, but I’m assuming it’ll show the highlights.
Featured image at top used with Creative Commons