Tips on how to enjoy State of Origin night. Wear a beanie, avoid other people, and give me your ticket.

May 22, 2012

A bloke’s life story can be told through his viewing of Origin.

There are phases we go through. Early on, the experience could last for days.

Now, the smart money suggests I’ll be asleep before they announce the man of the match

So many ways it can be done. With huge crowds, or home alone.

As you chill the drinks and prepare the dip ahead of tomorrow night, let’s reflect on how to make the most of the big event.

#Go To The Game – (highly recommended).

Everyone has to experience at least one Origin at the ground. It’s the ultimate for any footy fan. And I’m talking all codes here.

You will breathe in the colour, the noise, and the passion. Come kick-off, your heartbeat will match the players.

If you’re lucky enough to watch a win, you will be overcome with a desire to celebrate, as if you scored the winning try yourself. On the way out of the ground, you will share that joy with fellow fans. And make life hell for the opposition. Like I said, everyone has to do it once in their lifetime.

#Go To The Game And Sit In A Corporate Box – (very highly recommended).

If you’re lucky enough to jag an invite to an Origin box, we officially hate you.

You’ll enjoy all of the above, as well as sampling free drinks and lashings of decent tucker.

There is also the added bonus of boasting to workmates before, during and after the event.

A word of warning though. You might end up with people who have absolutely no interest in sport. They are easy to identify, because they have their back to the field, and talk about things that you don’t care about.

If this is the case, you have permission to ask security to eject them. Or, if the discussion moves to shoe shopping, do the job yourself. No court in the land will convict you.

#Go To A Pub With A Huge Crowd Of Drunks – (recommended only for the young and foolhardy).

There was a time when this option held great appeal. In fact, it’s how I watched many Origin games in my youth.

We would be stuck in the middle of hundreds of drunken, sweaty fans in footy jumpers. Of course, the availability of cool drinks played a part.

These days, I would rather remove my toenails with rusty tools while listening to Andre Rieu’s latest CD.

The problem is, you can’t hear the game. You’ll be bumped. And have a colourful cocktail splashed all over you.

There will be a fight nearby, you’ll spend the first half stuck in a line for the bar/toilet/hot chips, and when it’s done and dusted, you have absolutely no chance of finding a taxi.

If all that appeals to you, good luck, and see you next week.

#Go To A Party Hosted By A Neighbour Or Friend – (recommended if you have no food left at home, or your tv is on the blink).

Some people think Origin is the ideal evening to host a party. They invite lots of people, who have to rush home from work and put proper clothes on.

The problem is, most of those people will want to talk to you throughout the game.

They’ll see it as the perfect opportunity to discuss the latest Walk-to-School initiative. Just as Billy Slater crosses for his second try.

In this instance, you are well within your rights to order everyone out of the room, except for those who are former State of Origin greats.

#Host A Party For Neighbours And Friends – (seriously, are you nuts?)

Don’t do this. Under any circumstance. You’ll see none of the game. Someone will drink your beer. And you’ll have to do the washing up when they finally go home.

#Stay At Home, Take The Phone Off The Hook And Eat Nachos – (if you’re REALLY lucky).

Yes, it’s come to this. If you can’t be at the game, the perfect Origin night is in your very own lounge room.

No disruptions. You can wear your warm pyjamas, and no-one will know. Just make sure you add your Queensland beanie.

Heat up the nachos at the end of the national anthem, grab a cool drink, and hit your comfy chair. You won’t miss a second of the action. And you can yell mindless insults as much as you like.

Wherever you plan to watch the game, good luck, and enjoy your night. Just don’t disturb me.

Stock up on your cheese and corn chips – it’s State of Origin time!

May 17, 2011

In our household, State of Origin means Special Dinner. As Locky leads the Maroons out, I’ll be tucking into a plate of nachos Billy Slater couldn’t leap over.

Kick off is just over a week away. Amazing how quickly it comes around. Game One. State versus state. Mate versus mate. And my footy feast.

Like the players, a bloke needs his Origin routine. Mine is finely tuned. If a ticket to the Cauldron hasn’t magically appeared, we revert to our regular roles.

The nachos thing started by accident in Bundaberg about twenty years ago. Nice and basic. Possibly the Treasurer’s sneaky way of suggesting I should have been firing up the BBQ. But the plan backfired.

There was something strangely soothing about yelling at the old Rank Arena through a mass of melted cheese and corn chips. I backed up for Game Two, and by Game Three the Kraft Tasty was so thick there was a paramedic on standby.

We took the hot plate tradition with us to Cairns, and then the Gold Coast. Different lounge rooms, same artery-clogging meal. Brisbane too. The only change of late has been who’s cooking.

The Treasurer has passed the salsa spreading baton down the line. Not Daughter One. Cooking is not her thing. Unless it’s pancakes or chocolate. Daughter Two, however, is a whizz in the kitchen.

She has made some subtle changes. Slightly less cheese, with a dab of avocado. Something about trying to make me eat healthier. I can’t complain. There are still cool drinks involved.

Origin routine. Every family has it. Dad’s special spot. Mum’s lucky jersey. Flags on the wall. And the golden rule. No talking while the game’s on.

I love it when local businesses get involved. The butcher’s snags. The baker’s cakes. All done in Origin colours. Special game night pizzas. Do they still do them? I remember they were big a few years ago. Not that we needed them in our house.

Street parties. Split down the middle. Blues over there, thanks. Maroons get the comfy chairs. The kids playing their own Origin battle out the back before kick off.

I’ve been to plenty of Origin functions over the years. Pubs and clubs chockers. Huge nights for local footy clubs. I enjoyed them in the early days. Free beer until the first point is scored. We’d pray for a wet night and slippery ball.

Now, I’d rather be at home. Total focus on the big screen. Volume up. No distractions. Yelling mindlessly at every play. Jumping out of the chair. Waving fists at you-know-who, throwing early cheap shots.

Of course, the only thing better than being at home, is being at the ground. Experiencing Origin live is something everyone should get to do. It never disappoints. And there’s nowhere better than the Cauldron.

I never tire of hearing tales about the old Lang Park. I interviewed the legendary Choppy Close once. He told me the story of how he and his mate used to climb over the fence to get in for free. The scam worked a treat, until the day the security blokes spotted them.

Choppy’s mate had a wooden leg, meaning he didn’t quite have the great man’s speed. In the drama of the chase, his makeshift pin fell off. Both rolled down the hill. Reckon that’s ever happened at the Olympic Stadium?

No climbing the fence now. That’s ok. There’s no better place to watch a game of anything. It’s world-class. And best of all, the daunting, ear-splitting spirit of Lang Park is never far from the surface.

I love that kids all over Queensland will live in their Maroon jumpers for the next week. Especially in the bush. A concept originally designed to keep interstate footy alive, now makes an entire state happy. Or sad. Depending on the result.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For those staying home, there’s a menu to be worked out. Remember, nothing fancy. And if there’s any family tensions, just quote me. You’re not a true fan if there’s no cheese.