Breakthrough in search for original State of Origin call | radioinfo

Breakthrough in search for original State of Origin call

Wednesday 03 July, 2019
Ross Thompson

Retired Gold Coast journalist Ross Thompson has revived his 40-year search for a copy of his radio call of the first State of Origin match at Brisbane’s Lang Park in 1980.
 
Thompson was the lone commercial radio caller to broadcast the match through Tweed station 2MW after all metropolitan stations in Sydney, Brisbane and country areas decided the match would be little more than an exhibition game or a picnic outing for NSW.
 
Their judgement was based on the fact the players would be chosen for the State where they were born or played their initial first grade club game. 
 
Since the first interstate game in 1908, players had represented the state in which they were living, meaning the rich, poker machine-financed clubs in NSW were able to provide international players they had recruited from Queensland.
 
With a number of radio and television stations, and major newspapers boycotting the game, Thompson, who was Director of Sport and News for 2MW convinced management he could provide an unbiased call for an audience on both sides of the border.
 
Newly-appointed Director of Queensland Rugby League, Ross Livermore, welcomed Thompson’s request to be allocated a broadcast box and levied a meagre fee of $50. 
 
Major shopping centre, Tweed Mall eagerly grabbed the sponsorship rights and the general manager John Brass was just as keen to accept Thompson’s invitation to be his specialist co-commentator.
 
Brass was eminently qualified for the position, having played five-eight for Australia in both Rugby Union and Rugby League and refused to accept a fee for his services.
 
In the sparse broadcasting facilities at Lang Park, Thompson and Brass were joined by ABC commentator Peter Meares and legendary Brisbane caller, the late Billy J Smith who was working for the-then Channel 8 in Ipswich.
 
Unknown to the 2MW team, the panel operator in the studio back in Murwillumbah was a NSW supporter who had already decided the game would not be worth recording for future posterity.
 
For four decades, Thompson has been lamenting his inability to find a copy of his call but a chance meeting just before the first game of this season’s clash at Lang Park, has given him new hope of a breakthrough.
 
He has been told a mystery League fanatic, somewhere on the Gold Coast, actually recorded the game, which could only have been taken from the on-air coverage on 2MW, and was heard playing the recording of around the time of the first game this year.
             
“I hope this fan realises how important and valuable a tape such as this would be,” Thompson said as he prepared for the crucial third game of the 2019 series, on July 10.
 
“I will be delighted to help him realise its true value and its vital place in State of Origin history,” he said.
 
Thompson has appealed for any appropriate information to be emailed to him
 
 
 

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BD
4 July 2019 - 10:06am
Channel 8 in Ipswich? That didn't exist. I think by 1980 Billy J -- who was one of the Good Guys on 4IP, perhaps explaining the Ipswich reference (although the station had long been based in Brisbane) -- was reading sport on Channel 0 (later 10) in Brisbane.
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