Rugby League may own the concept these days, but it was Aussie Rules that actually invented State of Origin and it’s back for a special cause this Friday night!
Well, sort of.
Victoria is taking on the Dream Team aka – The Rest this Friday night in a special once-off Bushfire appeal game and footy fans couldn’t be more excited to see the best take on the best – even if it’s not the authentic version of State of Origin.
To get ready for Friday night, we are recapping in chronological order, the ten best moments in Aussie Rules State of Origin history.
1977 – The First One – Western Australia 23-13 (151) def .Victoria 8-9 (57) @ Subiaco
You got to give it to the Subiaco Football Club in the WAFL – they were the ones who actually invented the “State of Origin” concept.
Rugby League didn’t embrace it for another three years.
Prior to that, state games were based on the best players from each league playing against one another resulting in the likes of WA’s favourite sons Polly Farmer and Barry Cable wearing the Big V.
With the new selection concept in place, WA smashed Victoria by 94 points in the historic first State of Origin meeting of any football code.
1984 – South Australia 16-8 (104) def. by Victoria 16-12 (108) @ Football Park
The game was the first to be played under lights at Football Park but mostly remembered for the efforts of a young Stephen Kernahan who then played for Glenelg in the SANFL.
Kernahan would line up against Bruce Doull and kick 10 goals against the Vics, which then got the VFL presidents at the time knocking on the door with their chequebooks to get him over to Victoria.
Sticks would eventually join Carlton in 1986 and be made captain in 1987 where they won the Premiership.
1986 – Western Australia 21. 11 (137) def. Victoria 20.14 (134) @ Subiaco
Many Australian Rules purists regard this as the finest game ever played.
It was the last of the true concept of State of Origin as it was the year before the West Coast Eagles would join the VFL.
The game saw Brian Peake boot seven goals for the Sandgropers, a screamer from WA’s Andrew McNish, seven lead changes in the last quarter, five goals each from Brian Royal and Dale Weightman, Hawthorn’s Gary Buckernara kicking the winning goal for Western Australia and the smoother from Wayne Blackwell the made sure the game was a victory for the home team.
The Channel 7 commentary team for the day was quite legendary as well – Dennis Commetti and Lou Richards.
1989 – Victoria 22.17 (149) def. South Australia 9-9 (63) @ MCG
Back in 1989, 91,960 fans packed the MCG to witness a Big V demolition of South Australia in what was, believe it or not – the very first Origin game played between the two states in Victoria!
The Victorian forward line consisted of the likes of Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall (who’s actually a Queenslander) and Dermott Brereton.
Gary Ablett Snr didn’t play that day as he was out injured – the game was noted for the big crowd, the Vic’s big win and Hawthorn’s Andy Collins tackling fellow teammate Tony Hall who ended up with a knee injury that cost him a premiership medallion for the Hawks later that season.
Spare a thought for anyone from Adelaide that travelled down for the game.
1990 – New South Wales 13-8 (86) def. Victoria 10-16 (76) @ SCG
Your typical New South Wales footy fan would consider the NSW Blues 3-0 domination of Queensland in the Rugby League State of Origin their greatest feat, however, you could argue the greatest NSW Origin win wasn’t even in Rugby League.
In the very first year of the “AFL” the League denied a re-match between Victoria and South Australia as the SANFL didn’t want to join the national competition at the time.
As a result, the AFL decided to fixture Victoria against fledging Aussie Rules state New South Wales, a match that people thought would be an easy task for the almighty Big V.
On a very wet night in Sydney back in May 1990, New South Wales defeated Victoria by 10 points with the likes of the four Daniher brothers, John Longmire kicking eight and a young Wayne Carey dominating in arguably the greatest upset in the history of the Australian Rules Football version of State of Origin.
1990 – Tasmania 20-14 (134) def. Victoria 14-17 (101) @ North Hobart Oval
Thirty years on and the football heartland state of Tasmania still doesn’t have its own team in the AFL but for anyone from the Apple Isle the day Tassie beat the Vics at North Hobart Oval remains one of the Map’s finest moments.
The young Tassie team was lead by Hawthorn’s Darren Pritchard as skipper and coach Robert Shaw with the likes of Paul Hudson, brothers Brendon and Micheal Gale and Alistair Lynch doing their home state proud.
1990 – Western Australia 8-12 (60) def by. Victoria 14-13 (97) @ The WACA
1990 was a tough year for Victoria at a State of Origin level.
The Vics played three matches that season and went down to New South Wales and Tassie before finally getting one over against Western Australia under lights at the WACA.
The win was a great relief to the Victorian chairman of selectors EJ Whitten where he famously declared “WE STUCK IT RIGHT UP ‘EM.”
1991 – Queensland 23.14 (152) def. Victoria B 15. 8 (108) @ The Gabba
When you think of Queensland and State of Origin you’d usually think of King Wally Lewis, Billy Slater, JT and Cameron Smith lighting up Lang Park with the state going into a frenzy of Origin fever three nights a year.
However, back in 1991, a Queensland team (picked with a mix of Brisbane Bears listed players + eligible for QLD State of Origin) featuring the likes of Roger Merrett, Brad Hardie and Jason Dunstall beat what as then known as Victoria B – a similar concept to Australia A in Cricket at the Gabba.
Prior to the Brisbane Lions three-peat of premierships in the early 2000s, this could be considered the finest moment in Queensland Aussie Rules history.
1994 – South Australia 11-9 (75) def. Victoria 10-13 (73) @ Football Park
Many regard this as one of if not the greatest game of Australian Rules Football ever played.
In a classic contest featuring some of the best skills in every facet of the sport the 1994 clash between the Croweaters and Vics was probably the last fair dinkum State of Origin clash.
In a thrilling contest, Gary Ablett snr kicked a goal to put the Vics in front with 15 seconds left on the clock but a free-kick was awarded against him, the goal was disallowed and SA ended up winning by two points.
Football Park was sold out, “Kick a Vic” signs were all over the ground, Ted Whitten had to honour a bet wearing a South Australian Jumper in Rundle Mall the next day and those who played in it regard it as the toughest game of football they’ve ever played in.
1995 – Victoria 18-12 (120) def. South Australia 8-9 (57) @ MCG
It was more about what happened before the game than during it.
Fighting cancer and in his last days, the great EJ Whitten – the heart and soul of state football wouldn’t miss a Victoria v South Australia game for the world and took part with son Ted Jnr in the most emotional lap of honour you’ll ever see before a sporting event.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the 65,000 strong crowd at the MCG as Ted “STUCK IT RIGHT UP ‘EM” for one last time.
There was no way South Australia was going to win this one.
The Vics got the job done by 63 points with Tony Lockett booting seven for the big V and taking home the EJ Whitten Medal.
Ted tragically passed away six weeks later.
2008 Hall of Fame Tribue Match – Victoria 21. 11 (137) def. Dream Team 18. 12 (120) @ MCG
Much like the upcoming game this Friday night, it wasn’t quite State of Origin but it was still a buzz for the players and fans who embraced the match.
Victoria took on the “Dream Team” (a better way of saying “the Rest”) back in 2008 to celebrate 150 years of Australian Football.
The game was high scoring and close and Brendan Fevola kicked six for the Vics and went on to win the Allen Aylett Medal for the player judged best on ground.
Fevola can lay claim to being the king of the Novelty match having been best on ground in the 1999 Millenium match, winning the 2005 Micheal Tuck medal in the Wizard Cup Grand Final and the Hall of Fame tribute match.