Queensland dynasty driven by milestones
State of Origin is a game of passion and pride and as fans we all find motivation that inspires us to parochial support for our team.
I was born in Country Queensland in 1980, just six days before the first State of Origin game. I had the privilege of being born into a world where Queensland had a successful Rugby league representative team. In fact, it wasn’t until the mid-eighties that NSW returned serve and the series started to balance out.
While I was too young to understand and remember those games of the eighties, I have a sharper memory of the nineties when the Blues had their dominant run. As a teenager I saw Queensland lose series after series, and although my Maroons would catch them out on the odd occasion (just think of Fatty’s 1995 team) it was all the Blues. It all culminated in the 2000 series where the Maroons were destroyed by 50 points and those post try celebrations were burnt into my memory forever.
Many former Queensland players talk about the pre-Origin days when Queensland was routinely flogged by New South Wales sides often full of Queenslanders wearing the blue, as eligibility was based on residency rather than origin. They say the drive for them in the State of Origin arena was to make amends for those darks days and put some pride into the maroon jersey. For the older generation of Queenslanders, it was the legendary Artie Beetson who ignited that spark of Queensland passion with his infamous hit on club teammate Mick Cronin. Twenty years later, Bryan Fletcher’s ‘hand grenade’ theatrics proved the catalyst for a new generation of passionate Queensland fans.
I can understand that pain and motivation, but for me it didn’t truly take hold until that 2000 series. The strings of losses broken by the odd win through the nineties was palatable, but the flogging we received in Game 3 of 2000, and the utter disrespect for the opposition displayed the Blues put the passion and hunger in the contest for me.
I now look at the contest in 2014 after eight successive years of holding the trophy and the pain is almost as fresh as it was back in 2000. I am passionate about Queensland and State of Origin, and I see that is what drives my generation of footy fans to see Maroon success.
The issue I see for Queensland is we have a generation coming through that have never known this pain; we have kids in grade 3 that weren’t born when Danny Buderus lifted the shield last. Queensland could well be heading for an era of complacency.
On the flip side, with each consecutive series defeat there is a generation of Blues fans getting hungrier and hungrier. New South Wales could well be on the cusp of their own dynasty fuelled by 8 years of losses. They have the motivation we know so well. Fortunately, as a Maroons fan I see the respect that the current squad hold for their opposition. I have not seen a single post-try celebration in eight years, nor have I seen any ridiculing or big noting – well, no more than you’d expect from a body-collision sport.
Eventually, Queensland’s run will end. It will be a sad day for me, and a happy one for an entire state. I just hope it’s a graduation present for those Grade 3 students.