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The Roar


The greatest AFL State of Origin of all time

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Alan Graham new author
Roar Rookie
25th February, 2020

There has been tremendous community response to this bushfire season and the AFL is no exception, having revived the State of Origin concept for a fundraiser.

As such, it’s a good time to reflect on past glories. One such event has it’s 30th anniversary this year.

Victoria vs South Australia, or Western Australia? No! In May 1990, New South Wales recorded one of the greatest Origin victories – a win for the ages – against Victoria.

Yes, that’s right, a NSW side defeated Victoria in AFL.

Don’t remember? You are not alone, it’s not something the parochial Victoria press revel in.

On Wikipedia you can find pages on almost any topic, such as “List of animals with fraudulent diplomas”, or “The origin of rubber ducks”, but you won’t find one on the 1990 NSW vs Victoria Origin match.


The national comp was only in its first ‘official’ year as a national competition. NSW may regularly win the rugby league Origin (league actually took its showpiece event to Melbourne that year for the first time), but surely they wouldn’t have the players to topple the mighty Vics.

Bookies had them at $7 outsiders, with a 50-point line, yet while a torrential downpour at the SCG on that Tuesday night made conditions difficult, the win was no fluke.

The NSW side contained many, shall we say, handy players, including North Melbourne youngsters Wayne Carey and John Longmire, with Brett Allison roving at their feet.

The four Daniher brothers from Ungarie – Terry (captain), Neale, Chris and Anthony – played together for the first time in their career, before they also did for Essendon.

No room in the forward line for Bill Brownless, he was sent to defence to take on Dermott Brereton.

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As was the case back in the day, eligibility rules were a bit rubbery, with anyone who played for the Sydney Swans deemed eligible.

Big West Australian John Ironmonger was huge in the ruck against Paul Salmon. Victorians Gerard Healy, Stephen Wright, Tony Morwood and Glenn Coleman played for NSW. The cover photo of that day’s match program featured Gerard Healy, who would later go on to become a Victorian selector.

None of this detracted from the sprit displayed. John Longmire booted eight goals and said, “Winning tonight for NSW was tremendous and one of my biggest thrills in football.”

Anthony Daniher, a 233-game veteran with a plethora of highlights, nominated it as his greatest moment on the football field.

A great day for AFL in NSW. An even greater day for State of Origin.

NSW: 13.8 (86)
Victoria: 10.16 (76)