Allan Langer carried off by teammates Brad Meyers and John Buttigieg in 2001.
Allan Langer carried off by teammates Brad Meyers and John Buttigieg in 2001.

Part IV: QLD’s most memorable sporting moments

AS Queensland rings in the new year and the new sporting opportunities that come with it, Mike Colman looks back at the 25 biggest sporting moments in the state's history.

While we all look towards the future of sport in Queensland, with a potential new NRL team on the way and an Olympics bid incoming, we look back at the moments that defined sport in the Sunshine State.

From unexpected Origin comebacks to athletic miracles and cricketing sensations, these are the moments that happened on our turf and changed the history books forever.

Wally Lewis bleeds from his eye in his final Origin match in 1991.
Wally Lewis bleeds from his eye in his final Origin match in 1991.

10. Wally's last Origin

Lang Park, June 12, 1991

THE previous day Lewis and his wife Jacqui had received the stunning news that their 12 month-old daughter Jamie-Lee was profoundly deaf, prompting his decision to retire from representative football.

As Lewis went out to toss the coin before the match, Maroons manager Dick 'Tosser" Turner informed the team that this would be their captain's last Origin, and why. After that, there was probably nothing going to stop a Queensland series-winning victory but it was still a close run thing, the Maroons taking out a hard-fought three-tries-all 14-12 win.

After the game, his left eye cut and almost closed, Lewis was shouldered off the field by teammates Gary Coyne and Martin Bella.

After receiving the shield and holding it aloft, he took the microphone and said a few heartfelt words, "I have a little girl who I have to look after now. I love her very much. It has been the best series ever. Thankyou and goodbye".

Lewis then walked a slow lap of Lang Park with his sons Mitchell and Lewis as the crowd sang 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow' - a fitting send-off to the undisputed King of Origin.

9. Fatty's no-names sweep the Blues

Suncorp Stadium June 12, 1995

WHEN Paul "Fatty" Vautin, an ex-footballer turned TV personality with next to no coaching experience was called up to coach a team of "Neville Nobodies" against a star-studded NSW team at the height of the Super League War it was seen as mission impossible.

By the time Game III came to Brisbane the series was already safely in Queensland hands after stunning wins of 2-0 in Sydney and 20-12 but as they say, there is no such thing as a dead rubber in Origin.

Having enjoyed the time of their lives so far, the Maroons were dead keen to make it a clean sweep and with inspirational captain Trevor Gillmeister climbing out of his hospital bed following a leg infection and the added incentive of an all-up bet placed prior to the series, they did just that, capping an astonishing series 20-12.

Eddie Gilbert puts Donald Bradman on the ground as he gets him out for a duck at the Gabba in Brisbane in 1931.
Eddie Gilbert puts Donald Bradman on the ground as he gets him out for a duck at the Gabba in Brisbane in 1931.

8. Fast Eddie versus The Don

The Gabba, November 6, 1931

ONE was the greatest batsman the game of cricket had ever seen, the other a slightly built Indigenous Australian from Cherbourg settlement, near Kingaroy. When they met at the Gabba the outcome would make headlines around the world.

The mighty Don Bradman knocked over for a duck by Eddie Gilbert, an unknown trundler from Queensland? Unbelievable - but true.

Bradman would call it the fastest bowling he ever faced and endless arguments over its legality would ensue, but one thing could never be debated - the line in the scorebook: Bradman caught Waterman, bowled Gilbert 0.

Bradman faced five balls from Gilbert that day. He blocked the first, the second hit the peak of his cap and put him on the seat of his pants. Ball three sailed over his head and the next, the ball Bradman described as the fastest he ever faced, knocked the bat out of his hands for the first and only time in his career. Ball five he tried to hook and was caught by keeper Len Waterman for what was then just the third duck of his career and one of only 15 he would ever record.

7. Alfie's FIFO Origin comeback

ANZ Stadium, July 1, 2001

WHEN Allan Langer answered the telephone in his home in Warrington, England, he heard the familiar gruff tones of his former coach Wayne Bennett on the other end.

"We need you to play one last Origin game," Bennett said.

"What took you so long?" came the reply.

When Langer quit the game in tears in 1999, out of form and feeling guilty for letting down his beloved Broncos, Bennett was devastated. This wasn't the way a champion deserved to go out. Two years later, Bennett opened the door and Langer returned to provide one of the most stunning comebacks in sporting history.

With the series tied one-all and inspirational Maroons captain Gorden Tallis out indefinitely with a serious neck injury, Bennett needed to pull a rabbit out of his hat for the decider. The rabbit was Langer but there were many who felt he would be made to look a bunny after so long away from the helter-skelter pace of Origin football.

Ridiculed by the Sydney press as too old, too slow and two years too late, Langer made them eat their words, setting up three tries with sleight of hand, grubber kicks and inside passes. Then, 14 minutes into the second half, he slid towards the line, was rolled on his back and reached out for a try which sent the 49,441 fans at ANZ Stadium into a frenzy. He called it the greatest night in his life. Many of those there, and even more watching at home, would say the same thing.

6. Broncos First Game

Lang Park, March 6, 1988

WHEN Manly's premiership-winning captain Paul Vautin spoke on the phone to his father in Brisbane the week before the Sea Eagles' season opener against competition newcomers the Broncos he was given a warning.

"Be careful," he was told. "It's an ambush."

With Origin players like Wally Lewis, Allan Langer, Gene Miles, Greg Dowling, Colin Scott and Greg Conescu in their line-up everyone knew the Broncos would be competitive, but few expected them to carve up to reigning premiers the way they did.

The 44-10 result, with second-rower Brett Le Man scoring the new club's first try and lock Terry Matterson netting 24 points from two tries and eight goals, was the dream start for a club that would go on to become a rugby league powerhouse.

News Corp Australia

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