Memories of the first Origin game and a ‘Queensland ambush’

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Former Sea Eagle and Origin player Alan Thompson at his Wheeler Heights home that is for sale. AAP IMAGE / Troy Snook

New South Welshman Alan ‘Thommo’ Thompson played in the first State of Origin game back in 1980 and recalls some fighting, a dominate Queensland team and having to squeeze through the club bar to get to the dressing rooms.

The handy five-eighth and former Manly Warringah Sea Eagle played seven Origin games in the early 1980s, including the very first one.

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Thompson played in the first ever State of Origin game.

“NSW had just returned from New Zealand and we were tired,” he said.

“We were picked on Sunday night and played on Tuesday night whereas the Queensland team were better prepared, they were told they were in the team earlier,” he said.

The first game was played in Brisbane and is was a one-off rather than the three-match series that it is today.

“The crowds were amazing,” he said.

“We were going down Caxton St in a bus with people belting on the doors and windows,” he added.

“Then we had to go through the clubhouse and through the bar to get to our dressing room,” Mr Thompson said.

“Queensland dictated what was happening in the match and I think they started Origin,” he said.

Thompson is tipping the Blues to get up this year. Picture: Jonathan Ng

The early games of Origin were known for their physicality and Mr Thompson acknowledged there was a bit of fighting on the field even in the first game.

“We scored twice each and Mal Meninga kicked seven goals, there was a bit of fighting too,” he said.

Mr Thompson retired from professional rugby league in 1984 and now lives on the northern beaches. He is selling up his large Wheeler Heights home, 53 Lantana Ave, for something smaller. But come Wednesday he will dress his grandsons in blue and watch the Brisbane game on television.

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For the first time one of the three games this year will be played in Perth with the third and final decider in Sydney in July.

“There is not a lot between the teams but NSW has a team good enough to win and the home advantage will be big,” he said.

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