An epic interstate rivalry will reignite when Queensland’s top male and female footballers take on New South Wales in a blockbuster end to the Kappa Festival of Football on 12 December.
The much-anticipated Perry Park double-header marks a new era for a competitive conflict which dates all the way back to the 19th century.
Before the players are picked for next month’s matches, get up to speed with the last 130 years of this long-running rivalry!
Queensland’s history in state representative football can be traced as far back as August 1890, when a team representing the Queensland British Football Association travelled south to contest a series of “intercolonial” matches against New South Wales.
Queensland convincingly claimed first honours, winning 3-1 and 1-0 in Sydney amid a successful tour that also included a stop in Newcastle.
The rivalry developed further in August 1898, when Queensland administrators convinced New South Wales to venture north. The visitors won the first match 3-2 in front of “about 2,000” people at the Gabba, according to a contemporary report. “The game itself certainly deserved a better roll up,” wrote The Brisbane Courier. QLD evened the ledger the following Saturday, prevailing 3-2 in inclement weather.
Few goals generally separated the teams in their sporadic meetings from 1910 to 1920 and although they hit seven past New South Wales in one encounter in 1930, Queensland were left to do some soul-searching after conceding 10 goals and then 12 in successive meetings at the Exhibition Ground in 1933.
The outlook became markedly brighter for Queensland after World War II and into the 1950s as names now cemented in Australian football folklore entered the fray.
From ex-Sunderland player and future Socceroos coach Harry Brophy to long-time captain Bob Lawrie to prolific star Gordon ‘Bunny’ Nunn and the Kitching cousins, Spencer and Col, Queensland benefited from a level of talent that inspired a four-match winning streak, headlined by two 6-2 triumphs, in 1956.
Col Kitching had scored seven goals for Queensland at a six-team interstate carnival held in South Australia two years earlier. This burgeoning tournament brought a fresh element to the rivalry, with New South Wales and Queensland qualifying for a two-legged final in 1962. New South Wales – who boasted the likes of Ron Lord, Leo Baumgartner and John Watkiss – won 3-1 in Brisbane and 4-3 in Sydney, completing a 7-4 aggregate victory.
Another tournament encounter followed in 1964 but, with games against touring clubs and nations becoming increasingly common, it was not until 1970 that the two teams met once more.
Frank Arok’s strong New South Wales side ran out 3-0 winners in a landmark match at a redeveloped Perry Park, marking a departure from traditional host venues like the Gabba, Lang Park, Exhibition Ground (now Brisbane Showgrounds) and Bundamba in Ipswich.
The 1970s gave rise to a new arena for top-class Queensland footballers to impress with the arrival of the Australian Women’s Soccer Association National Championships.
Queensland, competing then as South Queensland, participated at the inaugural event in Sydney in 1974, finished as runners-up on home soil in 1975 and came second again in 1977 after losing to New South Wales in Perth.
These early efforts laid the foundation for a productive 15-year period that saw our state representatives achieve 13 top-two finishes between 1981 and 1995.
Queensland beat Northern New South Wales to be crowned champions for the first time in 1982, their squad of stars fittingly making the breakthrough in Brisbane. Australia internationals like Sue Monteath, Michelle Sawyers, Leanne Priestley, sisters Joanne and Kerry Millman, and Sharon Wass, still the youngest ever Matilda, helped turn the team into a force, and a second championship resulted in 1984.
The battle lines between Queensland and New South Wales were drawn more clearly as the sides contested five finals over the next seven years, with Queensland triumphing in 1991. The rivalry carried through to the Women’s National Soccer League, founded in 1996 as the Ansett Australia Summer Series. The state’s best linked with the QAS, donned the maroon, adopted the name Queensland Sting and set about dominating, seizing four titles in nine seasons in a sign of what was to come from Brisbane Roar in the early years of the Westfield W-League.
The men, meanwhile, had been hosting New South Wales on a near annual basis throughout the 1980s and, after dormant periods during the 1990s, the rivalry was resurrected in September 2000. Goals from Royce Brownlie and Anthony Roche were not enough on this occasion as Miron Bleiberg’s men succumbed to a 3-2 loss at Perry Park, but the next three years brought better results. Queensland notably reversed the scoreline back at Perry Park in 2002 thanks to a Matt Olley double and one from Demetri Theochari.
Then, in June 2003, an epic match with relevance to both the past and the present unfolded at Gabbie Stadium in Sydney.
Peter Dwyer and Luke Morley scored late goals for Queensland to dramatically force a penalty shootout, the visitors having trailed for almost 80 minutes. Morley had been a half-time substitute along with now-Brisbane Roar boss Warren Moon, who joined his future Lions FC assistant and successor Darren Sime on the field. A 4-3 triumph in the resultant shootout gave Queensland another historic victory, one the new representative crop will be eager to emulate at Perry Park on 12 December.
Lead image: State Library of Queensland