(Image via @NSWRL)

NSW supporter Lachlan Barker laments a disappointing start – for him – to the 2016 State of Origin tussle against Queensland.

As you may have noticed, we have been taking a break from sport recently. The main reason for this is that I have been finding my work on environmental issues consuming my time.

I don’t think I would have to argue with anyone that the Great Barrier Reef in trouble — a "canary in a coal mine" symptom of the entire Earth’s biosphere heating out of control is a little more important than who won the metaphoric game yesterday.

However, I did make a sneaky promise to the editorial team here at IA that I would cover certain major events. The sneaky part was I chose those events that HG & Roy would be covering.

That would at least give me some humour to tide me over if the game was less than entertaining.

And so it was that finally winter got here – after an abnormally hot, indeed largely non-existent autumn – and it was time for the State of Origin rugby league between NSW and Queensland.

And thus another chance for me to renew my ongoing battle with the near total and (to me) mystifying numbers of Queensland supporters in Australia, but mostly it would give me a chance to hear HG & Roy on ABC radio again.

However, right from the off, I can honestly say that rarely have I undergone a greater letdown of an evening.

First HG & Roy weren’t covering the game. They usually do, however it seems they have moved on as well.

So I nearly gave up the whole enterprise there and then, however State of Origin football can throw up some exciting matches, so I decided to see if I could rekindle the magic that existed for me as a younger (drunken) man.

I put my TV in time shift mode, synced it up to ABC Grandstand and then at least would be spared the sound of the horrendous advertising that commercial TV sees fit to inflict upon their viewers.

So, then, disappointment one reared its ugly head: the match kicked off 25 minutes late. Being broadcast on Channel Nine, of course I didn’t want commercial TV on my screen for a second longer than was absolutely necessary.

The pre-game information did say "kick off at 8pm", so I was already gnashing my teeth when the game got underway.

I don’t know the reason for the delay and can’t be bothered finding out, but I have no doubt it was some trick from Channel Nine to get people like me in, then deluge the beleaguered viewer with even more advertising.

However, the game finally got underway and, likewise, here, finally, you get to read about some actual sport.

A tight first half saw defence on top as it often does in these high level fixtures. Queensland opened the scoring with a penalty, before NSW replied with a try to Boyd Cordner in 25th minute, the conversion was missed and NSW led 4-2.

However, then Queensland replied with a try of their own to Dane Gagai in the shadow of half time, the conversion of that was likewise missed and we went to the break with Queensland leading 6-4.

Well when I say "we", of course I didn’t stay to watch the deluge of ads in the half-time break interspersed with the analysis drivel that the panel goes on with. I went over to ABC iView and caught up with Stephen Fry and the QI team.

Since I’d had to forego my usual Wednesday evening viewing to cover the game, I was more than happy that our ABC provides this excellent watch-it-when-you-want service.

Interesting fact from QI: the Gold Swift moth has sex without moving; you can watch the show if interested to find out why.

So, good humour restored somewhat, I returned to ABC Grandstand and Channel Nine for the second half.

Disappointment two: there was no scoring in the entire half.

Which leads of course to disappointment three: Queensland won!

As the game ended on this sour note, I did some reflecting – my own version of the post-match analysis, I guess – and tried to think back to the times when I’d found rugby league interesting and the State of Origin the high point of the year.

And it seems that, for me, it was when I was still drinking. I think the essential appeal of State of Origin is that it is as much an occasion as it is a sporting event.

All across NSW and Queensland, the clubs and pubs, and some private houses, host Origin parties. I certainly attended plenty in my younger drunken days.

However, those who don’t drink will know that attending an alcoholic function in the evening is boring at best and stressful at worst. As well – and in my opinion – Australia really doesn’t need another occasion when binge drinking is tolerated, if not actively encouraged by the advertising on TV.

I had toyed with the idea of going around to one of the local clubs or pubs in my town to drink lemon squash and watch in company, however then I thought that if I did that I would be forced to listen to Channel Nine, and so quickly scotched that idea.

Game two comes up in three weeks, on 22 June, at Lang Park in Brisbane with, as ever, NSW looking for a miracle to defeat Queensland to keep the series alive.

Thanks to ABC iview allowing me to watch my preferred shows afterwards in my own time, I will be watching the footy. That is, I will be watching as long as NSW are still in the contest and, given the usual atmosphere, at Lang Park this is likely to be about three minutes.

So, for just another year and another match, I say (through gritted teeth): Well. Done. Queensland.

[Snarl.]

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