There were socks and undies in that Sydney hotel drawer, but no grand final tickets.
It wasn’t for a lack of looking. Granted, we were gazing through A Grade hangovers, but surely we would still be able to spot two gleaming tickets through Smithy’s large white Bonds.
We were in Sydney, to watch the Broncos win a grand final. Way back in ’93, when Alfie was leading the way, and Powers sat on the front of their jerseys.
You might remember it. Tina Turner was there. Belting out a few tunes, and cuddling the Brisbane boys. So I’m told. Because we didn’t actually make the game.
It was a bunch of rough heads from North Queensland. A footy trip from Cairns, led by a former Origin player. Who demanded to hold the tickets.
It had been fun, up until the empty-drawer moment. A few beers. Plenty of laughs. I may have even had a punt.
On the morning of the grand final, we treated ourselves to a hearty breakfast, to prepare for the big day ahead.
The boys made their way to respective rooms, to tidy up as best they could, and grab their tickets.
They were waiting out the front for us. Unaware that on Level 6, panic had set in.
Smithy decided there had been a theft. The only explanation could be that a maid with a long criminal history had snuck in, and guessed that he would have hidden the tickets with his jocks.
I suggested that it may have been more simple. That as a former forward .. he may have lost them. Leaving us ticklet-less. And laughing stocks. He did not take this suggestion well.
By now, the boys were making their way onto the bus. A search party was sent to our room. To find us in a blazing row about various levels of stupidity.
Blame then shifted to others in the travelling party. Perhaps the thief was among us. This was met with howls of protest. And laughter. They were in. And we weren’t.
We jumped on the bus anyway, hoping that we might find two tickets under a seat. We didn’t. The laughter was now a little over the top.
We arrived at the Football Stadium, and watched our dear friends disappear through the gates. They were telling strangers, and pointing at us. If Twitter had been invented at the time, we would have been trending.
As kick-off loomed, we accepted our fate. There would be no grand final miracle. We would not see the Broncos, or hear Ms Turner.
By now, we didn’t have the energy to blame the other. The hopelessness of the situation seemed to accelerate our already crushing hangovers. Instead of heading to the nearest pub, we decided to go back to the crime scene.
A two thousand kilometre trip .. to watch the decider on a small hotel room tv.
As we hit our respective beds, I wondered how things could get worse. The answer came, in a bone-rattling snore.
The tour leader, exhausted from the ticket-tragedy .. had fallen into a deep sleep. And that was the grand final of ’93. Victory on tv, with a soundtrack of snoring.
We laugh about it now. Sort of. No doubt he’ll blame me at the reunion. Now you all know the truth. Just in case it makes Twitter.