Lesson learned — don’t let Locky drive. Image: David Kapernick
Lesson learned — don’t let Locky drive. Image: David Kapernick

Gordie: Alf throwing up, Locky’s got the bus

I REMEMBER it like was yesterday. It was June 8, 1994 and there was 87,161 spectators packed into the MCG.

And here was yours truly, a kid from Townsville, about to live out his childhood dream.

I was on debut for Queensland.

The Maroons coach was Wally Lewis and our captain was Mal Meninga. Two of my absolute heroes. I could barely believe I was in the same dressing room as them.

I remember walking into the sheds at the MCG and there was a spare seat next to Allan Langer.

I thought to myself, "how good is this, sitting next to Alf!"

So I threw my gear next to his and started to get ready.

But nobody had told this big dope that Alf got so anxious before games that he would be physically ill.

It certainly explains why there was a spare seat next to him.

Gorden Tallis got a surprise welcome from Allan Langer. Image: David Kapernick
Gorden Tallis got a surprise welcome from Allan Langer. Image: David Kapernick

So there we are, listening to Wally give his final speech to the team. The two-minute bell had gone off.

It's almost time to go.

The butterflies in my stomach are more like elephants with wings as I sit there trying to take in every word that the King - my idol - is saying.

Then it happened.

I felt something splash all over my brand new Nike boots.

It was Alf going through his traditional pre-game routine of throwing up.

It just happened to be all over my boots.

Welcome to Origin, son.

Gordie makes an impact on his Origin debut. Image: Geoff Mclachlan
Gordie makes an impact on his Origin debut. Image: Geoff Mclachlan

Another favourite memory was riding the bus.

As an Origin player, you spend a lot of time with your teammates on buses. To and from airports, to and from training, to and from games.

Last week I was lucky enough to go out to Charleville as part of the Maroons Fan Day and this year's team bus reminded me of how far Origin has come.

The boys this year have a bus that is the closest thing you will get to being a rock star on tour.

It has a coffee machine, a fridge full of drinks, a snack bar full of protein bars and tables to sit around. It's very impressive.

A lot more plush than the 18-seat mini-van that we climbed into in 1994, my first series.

Wally Lewis was Maroons coach and chief bus driver.

 

Tallis clashes with Terry Hill in one of State of Origin's classic moments.
Tallis clashes with Terry Hill in one of State of Origin's classic moments. File

In fact a bus was a big part of a prank pulled by Darren Lockyer - on yours truly and Wayne Bennett.

We were staying in the Gold Coast hinterland for our Origin camp and one Saturday night we headed into the Jupiters Casino.

We had a feed of Chinese and Wayne and I walked out of the casino about 15 minutes before we were due to leave and noticed that nobody was in or around the bus. It looked deserted.

So Wayne sent me back inside to round up the boys. But I couldn't find one of them.

They were all hiding in the bus, lying down in the aisle so we couldn't see them.

As I walked back out, it was just me and Wayne. Then the bus started up. Then the bus started going out of the driveway without me or Wayne on it. We thought we had missed curfew.

But Locky was behind the wheel

He only intended to go just down the road. But he couldn't turn the bus around in those tight little roads around the casino. He couldn't reverse it either.

He had to do a one kilometre round trip to get the bus back to where it was in the first place. He had to get on the Gold Coast Highway, go down about 400-500 metres and hook it back into the casino entrance …. where Wayne and I were still waiting.