Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin, Game 3: Jubilant Queensland (the whole state)

Growing up in the Queensland of the 1950s and 1960s felt like living in a sporting backwater.


We had some great tennis players – Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Mal Anderson, and David Thiele won two Olympic swimming gold medals.


When it came to team sports, we were well behind the big Southern States. I still have memories of listening to the wireless when NSW defeated Queensland 69-5 in 1957 in Rugby League. There were occasional wins in Rugby League, but, in Rugby Union, NSW even refused to play annual matches against Queensland for a period. Australian Football and Association Football (Soccer) were similarly lacking in success.


We had some Test cricketers – Wally Grout, Slasher Mackay, Peter Burge and Tom Veivers, but we were Sheffield Shield also-rans. Good players like Sam Trimble never played a Test and Peter Allan only was selected for one Test.


My memorable Queensland sporting moments had to come later.


1976 – Rugby Union – Queensland 42 d NSW 4


It was a glorious day at Ballymore as the Queenslanders led by the “Holy Trinity” of Tony Shaw, Mark Loane and Paul MacLean inflicted a crushing defeat on the old foe.


I don’t think anyone there had expected this outcome. The joy was unbounded.


1980 – First State of Origin


I did not see this game live nor on television. I was on holidays in Melbourne at the time.


There was no report on the ABC radio news so I drove into the CBD where there was a newsagency which sold Queensland papers that arrived around lunch time.


I will never forget the front page – a photo of a beaming but obviously exhausted Arthur Beeston with the caption “Thanks A Million Artie”.


For so many years, droves of Queensland players went to Sydney and came back wearing Blue jerseys. For so many years, they had regularly beaten us. For so many years, great Queensland players like Johnny Lang, Johnny Gleeson and others did not get Kangaroo selection when they deserved it.


Now, we had our best against their best and had prevailed.


1995 – First Sheffield Shield


In their 69th year of vying for the Shield, it finally came our way. We had many barren years when we finished last. We had years when the post-Christmas wet season robbed us of a chance. We had imported players from other States as well as England, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies, but it had not worked.


1994-95 was the season. Allan Border, no longer a Test player, and in his forties, played a final season. He was supported by Queensland stalwarts Carl Rackemann and Stuart Law, and the emerging players Matthew Hayden, Andy Bichel and Martin Love.


We knocked South Australia over cheaply, and then piled on the runs. It rained on the Sunday. I was in the Cricketer’s Club with a journalist mate and a couple of his colleagues. No one cared that play was stopped. It was kind of fitting. Queensland went on to win by an innings.


I only wished that my father who died in 1992 had lived to see it.


2015 – State of Origin 3 – QLD 52 d NSW 6


The Queensland players were too old, they said.

The dynasty had ended.

The players were like an aged pride of lions who could no longer defend their territory.

They did not believe that.

They won the mental game .

They won the physical game.

They won the skills game.

They passed the magical 50 points mark.




JJ Leahy is an olde worlde thinking Queenslander.


John Leahy




  1. TG White says

    Ah John, how sweet it is. I have a connection with all those events you mentioned. I moved to Brisbane from Townsville in 1980 and also didn’t attend the first Origin game because “it was too cold”. I wish I had a better story than sitting in my granny flat in Toowong watching the delayed telecast on a little black & white tv, within walking distance of Lang Park. Alas I don’t. My Dad died almost 4 years ago to the day and fortunately I can report that he & I did attend every day of the ’95 shield final, where he rued that his Father hadn’t lived long enough to see this happy day. It was a long time coming. I never saw Mark Loane play but he did previously live at the same college as me and he did present me with a sporting blue at a drunken University ball at City Hall in ’83 or ’84. And last night I gathered with a few old college mates, spoke to JT Harms on the phone (he was one of those mates) and we all felt a sense of justice again. How sweet it is!

  2. Took my dad to the shield final. Have watched every state of origin game on TV, from near (Bardon) and far (Abu Dhabi and various parts of Asia).

    Don’t think any have been more enjoyable than last night.

    While goal umpiring for Red Lions one afternoon, I had a chat with Mark Loane about that era of rugby and of who would have made a good Aussie Rules player. He reckoned that Paul Maclean would have been pretty handy off the back flank and Roger Gould would have been a champion full forward. (When he finished playing rugby he moved to Adelaide because his wife’s family was from there. Her brothers played in the SANFL and he became quite knowledgable about the game).

  3. Now that my brain has started working, I did go to an origin match at the SCG. The one where Gilmeister tackled Steve Folkes and left an indentation in the turf it was a soft ground but it was a genuine snow angel without the snow. I watched from the Hill and remember belonging to the only fist that pumped in the air when Qld scored. For all of its reputation, it remains the only place I’ve been offered tea at halftime from a tartan thermos that wasn’t laced with medicinal additives.

  4. Dr Rocket says

    A map of Queensland is displayed in today’s Almanac (10 July).

    I can’t find Bowraville where Greg Ingliss comes from on the map…
    where in Qld is Bowraville?

  5. JJ Leahy says

    Dear Dr Rockett

    Bowraville is in New South Wales.

    Greg Inglis moved to Brisbane as a teenager and attended Wavell State High School, a noted Rugby League nursery. There is was coached by Mick Taylor, who has helped many young men to achieve Rugby League success in the last 25-30 years. Other players who have benefited from the Wavell High Rugby League program include Adam Blair and Jake Webster.

    In prior years, Daryl Brohman famous as Les Boyd’s punching bag but also a very skilful player was a student there, as was David Wright who represented the Kangaroos in the 1970s.

    Wavell State High School is located in the northern suburb of Wavell Heights in Brisbane in the State of Queensland.

    I am sure you will be able to find it on your map.

    Kind Regards
    JJ Leahy

  6. Dr Rocket says

    This little diddy clears up all the places the where the Maroons have come from – “That’s in Queensland”:

Leave a Comment