Mascot Matilda the Kangaroo glides around the track at the opening ceremony.
Mascot Matilda the Kangaroo glides around the track at the opening ceremony.

Part V: QLD’s most memorable sporting moments

AS Queensland rings in the new year and the new sporting opportunities that come with it, Mike Colman looks back at the 25 biggest sporting moments in the state's history.

While we all look towards the future of sport in Queensland, with a potential new NRL team on the way and an Olympics bid incoming, we take a look back at the moments that defined sport in the Sunshine State.

From unexpected Origin comebacks to athletic miracles and cricketing sensations, these are the moments that happened on our turf and changed the history books forever.

Jeff Horn celebrates defeating Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium. Picture: AAP
Jeff Horn celebrates defeating Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium. Picture: AAP

5. Jeff Horn v Manny Pacquiao

Suncorp Stadium July 2, 2017

JUST to get 11-time eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao to come to Brisbane and put his welterweight title on the line against relatively unknown Jeff Horn was a 1000-1 shot.

For the quietly spoken 29 year-old ex-schoolteacher to beat the legend in front of over 50,000 screaming fans was almost unbelievable.

Few outside his own camp gave Horn a chance against the 38 year-old Filipino - Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach predicted Horn wouldn't last three rounds - but despite copping a pounding in the ninth Horn would not be denied in performance full of skill, resilience and self-belief.

"I didn't think he would be that tough," Pacquiao admitted after the unanimous verdict went Horn's way on one of the greatest days in Australian boxing history.

4. Queensland's first Shield win

The Gabba, March 28, 1995

THE clock on the Gabba's old wooden scoreboard hit 3.52pm as the greatest drought in Australian sporting history was broken. For 69 years Queensland cricketers had toiled in vain in their quest for the Holy Grail, the Sheffield Shield.

Carl Rackemann holds aloft Qld’s first ever Sheffield Shield.
Carl Rackemann holds aloft Qld’s first ever Sheffield Shield.

Fittingly it was big Carl Rackemann, the farmer from Wondai who took the catch which made all Queenslanders' dreams come true.

After the 1984-85 final had been lost to NSW by one wicket Rackemann, who had bowled himself to a standstill, reached the point of tears as his fingers slipped off the coveted trophy yet again. Ten years later almost to the day, the tears were of joy as he caught South Australia's Peter McIntyre off Paul Jackson's bowling to clinch the biggest win in Shield history.

There were plenty of heroes for the final day crowd of 11,500 to cheer: century-makers Trevor Barsby and Martin Love, former Test skipper Allan Border whose final innings had ended just two runs short of triple figures, Jimmy Maher who gave him invaluable middle-order support, pugnacious captain Stuart Law who never released his iron grip on the tiller all season, wicketkeeper Wade Seccombe who finished with five catches for the match, and the other bowlers, Andy Bichel, Dirk Tazelaar and Jackson, who shared the wickets.

But as much as for the players who took the field in that historic match, the win was a victory for every player who had ever worn a maroon cap on the arduous and frustrating 69-year journey to the Shield - and every Queenslander who had ever cheered them on.

3. Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony

QEII Stadium, September 30, 1982

IT was the moment Brisbane welcomed the world, and cocked its hat at every critic who said it couldn't be done - the moment a giant kangaroo named Matilda winked and said "G'day".

When Brisbane won the rights to host the Commonwealth Games the feeling from Melbourne and Sydney was that it could never handle such an international event. They were wrong, and Brisbane's Games raised the bar for all locally based major events to follow.

There would be many memorable moments over the next few days - Deek heading for home along Coronation Drive as thousands of breakfasting locals lined the route, Raelene Boyle taking 400m gold in her last race and Tracey Wickham and Lisa Curry beating all comers at the pool, but the colourful, meticulously planned and joyously executed Opening Ceremony set the scene for everything to follow.

For the athletes the Commonwealth Games were a platform on which to display their skills but for Queensland itself they were far more. Many believe the Games, combined with Expo 88, changed Brisbane forever as they showcased the city to a world audience.

The Opening Ceremony, in which hundreds of local children offered a heartfelt welcome, said it all perfectly. Just like the city and state which hosted it, this was to be an event full of warmth and humour.

An event which did not take itself too seriously but which would set new standards in terms of organisation, hospitality and community involvement. Everyone involved knew the 1982 Commonwealth Games wouldn't change the world - but they certainly changed Queensland.

Queensland captain Artie Beetson is swamped by well-wishers after the first State of Origin match.
Queensland captain Artie Beetson is swamped by well-wishers after the first State of Origin match.

2. First Origin

Lang Park, July 8, 1980

THE headline which screamed: "The Night We Beat The Blues" summed it up perfectly. For so long the poor cousin on the football field and in the selection room, this was the night Queensland rugby league bloodied the bully's nose 20-10 at Lang Park.

When Queensland captain Artie Beetson belted his Parramatta teammate Mick Cronin the future of State of Origin football was assured and the relationship between Queensland and NSW would never be the same. For years Queensland's best players had chased the big dollars in Sydney, then returned in blue jumpers to beat their home state.

With Origin that changed.

No one knew quite what to expect that first game, but it didn't take long to realise that for the rabid Queensland crowd this was more than a game of footy. It was payback.

TV commentator Rex Mossop, calling the game for his NSW audience, realised what the Blues players found out all too soon when he said, "Gee, the Queenslanders seem to be taking this seriously."

Indeed they were, and it took the shell-shocked southerners years to catch up. Beetson, 35 and playing in maroon for the only time in his career, inspired youngsters such as Chris Close, Wally Lewis and Mal Meninga to write their own history. Meninga kicked seven out of seven, Close, running like a runaway train, was man of the match and every Queenslander walked tall.

West Indian players celebrate as Ian Meckliff is run out to tie the game.
West Indian players celebrate as Ian Meckliff is run out to tie the game.

1. Tied Test

The Gabba, December 14, 1960

A WEDNESDAY morning, final day of the first Test match between Richie Benaud's Australians and the enigmatic West Indians led by Frank Worrell.

A small crowd attended at the Gabba. After all, of three conceivable outcomes - West Indian win, Australian win or draw - the last seemed most likely. But, of course, none of the three would eventuate. This was a final day like none other in the 83-year history of Test cricket.

With Australia 6-92 chasing 233 to win after Gary Sobers' first-innings 152, even the most optimistic had given up hope before a seventh-wicket 134-run partnership between Alan Davidson and Benaud brought Australia back into the game.

Then Benaud called Davidson through for an impossible single and wicketkeeper Wally Grout, who had been nervously chain-smoking in the dressingroom, walked out to join his captain. Australia needed six runs to win off Wes Hall's last eight-ball over.

Cricket legends Richie Benaud and Frank Worrell speak after the tied Test.
Cricket legends Richie Benaud and Frank Worrell speak after the tied Test.

It went: ball one - bye, ball two - wicket (Benaud, caught by keeper Gerry Alexander trying to hook a bouncer), ball three - dot ball, ball four - bye (missed run out as Hall hurled the ball at the stumps and Valentine cut off a probable four byes), ball five - bye (dropped catch as Hall, following through, ran in front of Rohan Kanhai and spilled the ball), ball six - two runs, one wicket (Grout brilliantly run out after a Conrad Hunte throw from the boundary), ball seven - scores tied, last man in Lindsay Kline pushed towards square leg and set off for the winning run. As Ian Meckiff lunged desperately, Joe Solomon picked up on the run and aimed at the one stump visible.

The rest, as they say, is history.