It’s supposed to be Queensland vs New South Wales today, but in the bmag office this morning it seems to be the Origin lovers vs haters.
While my co-worker Laura doesn’t seem to understand the glory that is State of Origin — and is writing her own ‘survival guide’ for those Origin-haters who side with her — I’m here to represent the vast majority of the state that appreciates this game of games.
Origin’s not about football. It’s not even about sport. The beauty of Origin is that you don’t have to understand the game or even enjoy watching sport to get involved, all you have to do is pick a side — maroon or blue. It’s the most inclusive sporting match of the year (and here Laura is, trying to tear down its significance).
It taps into that deepest of urges in us all — sibling rivalry. It’s state against state and mate against mate for a reason; there’s nothing more fun than a serious bit of competition between friends. We work out a bit of tension and are bonded stronger for it afterwards. (Note: This ethos doesn’t apply to games of Monopoly or apparently the handball matches I played with my high-school friends in eleventh grade.)
As Queenslanders, we see reflected in our team the qualities that define us as citizens — grit, determination and a sense of honour and fair play. I’ve no doubt New South Welshmen see their own desirable qualities represented in their team — constant effort in the face of unending defeat, perhaps — but as a Queenslander all I see in the NSW team is a desperation to win at any cost (perhaps there’s ingenuity and the bravery of risk-taking in there somewhere too).
And as for the actual spectacle of the game — there’s no better match than a grudge match, and each year we get to see the best-of-the-best play some superb football. Every player commits their all, feeling the weight and spirit of their entire state behind them, and as such we see moments that make history and turn players into icons. The electric feeling that permeates the eastern states on game day is undeniable and whether you’re going to the stadium or will be enjoying pizza and a few beers with friends and family (some in maroon colours and some in blue), the sizzle of Origin excitement is hard to deny. At my house, even the dog gets excited and will bark and yap along with us as we cheer or boo… though that may be more to do with our yelling than the actual game.
There is nothing that compares to Suncorp Stadium on game night. The atmosphere and excitement is unparalleled and when that Queenslander chant goes up from the stands it’s enough to give you chills. It’s this spirit that makes Origin mean so much to all of us. I’m as ‘girly-girl’ as they come (I could talk about my hair and makeup dramas for hours, and often do) but the fire of Origin still burns within me. We’re all in this together, as Queenslanders, not footy fans, and that’s what makes Origin so special.
And so I say to our brave players down in Sydney, plagued by injury and with the series resting on their shoulders tonight — go you good things. I have faith you’ll pull through; and even if you don’t, eight years in a row isn’t so bad.