In Touch: Time for Blues fans to fire up
The craziest NSW supporter wouldn't even qualify for the Olympics of craziness, but you could count on the fact there'd be a Maroon on the podium.
Last week at the spiritual home of Queensland supporters, the Caxton Hotel, I chatted to two random Maroons fans. One of them had taken the whole week off work to enjoy the lead up to game one. The other was looking for Darren Lockyer. Why? Because he wanted Locky to sign his back, so he could get his autograph tattooed there – right under the shoulder-to-shoulder picture of the Storey Bridge and the spine-length word that simply read:
Q U E E N S L A N D E R.
Is that kind of Maroon madness born or bred? I was chatting to one of Paul "Fatty" Vautin’s daughters at the game on Wednesday and despite being born in Manly and living in Sydney, she claims to be a cane toad through and through, so maybe it is in the blood. That’s very encouraging, given that I spent most of last night trying to teach my 16-month-old nephew to say "Queenslander" even though he was born in Randwick and so far can only say "more".
One day maybe he'll be one of 52,000 chanting it at Suncorp Stadium. It's the loudest chant I've ever heard, fuelled by Caxton Street beverages, it echoed around the stands, even the guests in the corporate boxes were shouting – and that's something you don't see much from the canapé-munchers at ANZ Stadium.
Ricky Stuart is right. Blues fans need to live Origin, and to do that they need their own Caxton Street. A beer or two on Olympic Boulevard would console anyone for the pain of travelling on Sydney's rail network or crawling along Parramatta Road. It'd fill up the home stadium with tens of thousands of noisy fans, and spur on the boys in blue to greater glory.
Whether or not the team buses should run the gauntlet of mad fans or not is another matter. Last week I spoke to Gene Miles, Gary Belcher and Choppy Close about their days in the big Maroon bus as it edged through Caxton Street, and to a man they said it was frighteningly wild. Mad Maroon Mal Meninga called it fabulous, and Ricky Stuart, who is his own brand of crazy, was disappointed his team couldn't experience that dubious thrill for themselves. Would it finish them off or fire them up?
"I know that as a player, to have the masses outside throwing their beer at us and abusing us was like a switch for me," he said. Maybe the old Roy Masters / Tommy Raudonikis face-slapping is back on the agenda too?
Apart from a lacklustre first 20 minutes on Wednesday night, the NSW team did its bit, showing true grit to come from behind in the second half to a shock two-point lead with 10 minutes to go.
Now it's up to Blues fans to embrace their inner maniac, brave the trains or the traffic, juice up their vocal cords and spur their boys on. Come on cockroaches, let's make it one-all, so we Maroons can unleash our full fanaticism and take you down in game three.