Ask former Geelong and Victorian star Garry Hocking what State of Origin footy means to him, and his mind goes straight to the day Ted Whitten put the fear of God in him and his teammates.

“In [19]89 South Australia-Victoria played at the MCG in front of a packed house. I was in the B team so the likes of [me], Gary Ayres, Darren Millane … we travelled down to play in the B team against Tassie. Now we were four goals down at half-time and against Tasmania, [this was] unheard of,” he says.

“David Parkin was the coach but he said little. Ted Whitten sat us all down at North Hobart in this very small room. He said ‘I’ll tell you what boys … you lose this game of football and this will be your last game for Victoria. I’ll give you that. I know each and every one of you, I know who you are. You will never play for Victoria again’. 

“So they put Gary Ayres in the middle and he dominated and we ended up winning the game and a lot of us continued our journey with State of Origin. 

“[Ron] Barassi, [Ted] Whitten, [Bobby] Skilton, they just loved the Victorian guernsey and what it all meant to them and that was the baton was passed on no doubt from that day.

“We just never wanted to lose again or [be] behind in a game. Having Ted Whitten look and stare at you in the eye and say you will never ever get to represent Victoria again or get the opportunity, it was very frightening.”

Garry Hocking (front left) played State of Origin football for Victoria mentored by famous footy greats like Ted Whitten (not in pic), Ron Barassi and Bob Skilton.(Getty Images: ALLSPORT/Mark Dadswell)

Five years later, Hocking and his Victorian teammates found themselves in another fierce interstate footy encounter away from home. This time the venue was Football Park in Adelaide, the opponent was South Australia.

What transpired 30 years ago today was, depending who you ask, possibly the best game of football ever played — and the last, great hurrah of State of Origin football.

Football Park

Footy Park was South Australia’s version of Waverley Park — the concrete jungle, away from the city, the poor cousin to Adelaide Oval in the same way that Waverley was the poor cousin to the MCG.

It no longer exists, but it’s good to remember it in its heyday and what it meant to South Australians and to the teams and fans that visited, such as that night on May 3, 1994, which also happened to be the 20th anniversary of its opening. On that Tuesday night, 44,598 fans came to Footy Park.

It may not have had the cachet of Adelaide Oval, but Football Park when filled with fans had an atmosphere like few others.(Getty Images)

Author and football historian Francis Doherty doesn’t doubt the power and importance of the ground.

“That parochial South Australian Football Park crowd, if you’ve ever been there and experienced it firsthand, it’s probably one of the most parochial crowds if not the most scary place an opposition supporter to be, in the whole of Australia,” Doherty says.

Garry Hocking agrees.

“When we were doing the run, like you go for a run, I was like, I’m gonna run inside the boundary line. I don’t want to run next to the boundary line, next to the fence because they were throwing all sorts of different items, and all different types of abuse. 

“I am thinking there was a game where it might have been Danny Frawley, myself and a couple of others, we were running inside with a boundary umpire trying to get as far away as we could [from the fans] while we were doing our stretching — and while you’re doing your stretching up and around the pocket, we were getting pelted by items. Missiles.”

Change of format to State of Origin

Interstate footy changed to a State of Origin format in 1977. Before then, it was league versus league, with the VFL having an in-built advantage. Wins for South Australia over Victoria were rarities.

Between 1930 and South Australia’s famous victory at the MCG in 1963, the tally ran: Victoria 35 wins, SA 8 with one drawn game. After that 1963 triumph, the Croweaters won again in 1965, then did not beat the Big V again until 1983.

Even with the changed rules, Victoria still won five of the first six — but going into this game, the Croweaters had won five of the last seven.

The South Australian coach was Graham Cornes.

“I played my first game of football for South Australia in 1971,” he says.

“I’d been in Vietnam in 1970, it was my first full season [back].

“To play Victoria at the MCG, 60,000 people in the stands, great players and the magnificent red jumper — it was wonderful.”

Cornes says State of Origin peaked in SA from 1986 to 1988.

“When we didn’t have a Crows team, but we played Victoria at Footy Park, and you’ve never, you’ve never known an atmosphere like it,” he says.  

“The crowds were just massive, passionate, baying for Victorian blood that was stirred up by a couple of the greats that have played the game.”

The team line-ups for the Victoria-South Australia game in 1965 show Ted Whitten at full-forward for the Big V and Neil Kerley as a follower for SA.(Supplied: Francis Doherty)

These two men, Donald “Neil” Kerley – also known as “Knuckles” and EJ Whitten or Ted Whitten, AKA “Mr Football” were the absolute heartbeat of state footy in Victoria and SA.

Kerley played 32 times for SA, Whitten 29 times for Victoria.

The Football Record from 1965 for the interstate match shows Whitten at full-forward for Victoria, and Kerley as a follower to ruck Bill Wedding on the SA side.

Whitten became chairman of selectors and chief spruiker for Victoria, while Kerley was SA’s equivalent footy figure — he coached Cornes at Glenelg in the 1970s and passed on his love of the contest and the desperate necessity of beating the Big V.

Three decades on, they were still inspiring, haranguing and revving up their states to treat State of Origin with the intensity it deserved.

In the South Australian side was — like Cornes — a Victorian-born player in backman Rod Jameson, who moved to SA when he was 11 and played for Glenelg in the SANFL under Cornes before joining the Crows.

Jameson, now part of ABC Sport’s commentary team for Crows and Port Adelaide games, recalls the night that hooked him on State of Origin. 

“[It was] Stephen Kernahan in ’84 where he kicked 10.1 one night for South Australia. I was at that game, and, just the rivalry between the two states was enormously intense, and our underlying, I guess, respectful hatred for each other,” he says.

“State of Origin, that was the level and that would come once a year or every second year to our state here in South Australia.”

Hocking says the atmosphere would “boil over”, particularly before games away from Victoria, as it reached “fever pitch”.

The Kick a Vic slogan was popular among State of Origin fans in SA.(Website:

“Like Kick a Vic! signs, T-shirts, getting off the plane and seeing it at the airport. Going to the hotel and training at the ground and rocking up on match day thinking people would literally come over and kick you. It was quite an imposing thing for a young 24- or 25-year-old.”

The game itself

Cornes had played a total of 21 games for South Australia before becoming state coach. He had never had a win over the Big V as a player. As a state coach, however, his win-loss record against Victoria would end up at 6-2, and his overall record at 9-2.

“I’ve always felt deep down inside, we didn’t think we were as good as they were. We just had this inferiority complex,” he says.

“I was really keen to dispel that concept, [and instil] that belief you are good enough, your best is good enough — that the guy who thinks he’s number 23 in the team is as good as the guy [who] thinks he’s number one in the team.”

SA had veterans like Stephen Kernahan, John Platten, the Jarman brothers, Greg Anderson, but also young players like Troy Bond, Mark Ricciuto, Ben Hart, Gavin Wanganeen (the 1993 Brownlow Medallist) and Nigel Smart, who would go on to be the future of SA football for the next decade.

South Australian coach Graham Cornes addresses his players during the 1995 match against Victoria at the MCG.(Getty Images)

“In the state game, you pick the team for now. You pick the best team to do the job on that day. There’s no … blooding players for the future. Because the future state games will take care of itself,” Cornes says.

Former Carlton player and Fitzroy coach Rod Austin coached a Victorian side featuring veterans Gary Ablett, Garry Lyon, Mil Hanna, Danny Frawley and Gavin Brown, as well as eight first-time Victorians. 

When you looked at the match-ups, it was like fantasy footy. You had Hawthorn great Chris Langford standing Kernahan, while Team of the Century fullback Stephen Silvagni was trying to stop Adelaide star Tony Modra.

First quarter

The atmosphere at Footy Park was electric. When the Big V was given a free kick for an errant sling on Andrew Collins by SA’s Darren Kappler, it was greeted by 44,000-plus hoots of derision.

Collins’s clearing kick went to Andrew McKay and then Chris McDermott — leading SA for one of 14 occasions — who kicked over the back of a pack where Modra, third-up, gathered, steadied and kicked the opening goal, SA 1.2 (8) VIC 0.0 (0).

In answer, Ireland’s Jim Stynes kicked the visitors’ first. Hocking was hoovering up the ball early while on the other side the reigning Brownlow Medallist Gavin Wanganeen was dominating down back for the home side.

It was fierce, fast and attritional. Chris Langford collided with Andrew Jarman and earned a free, then 50. Langford kicked long and Gary Ablett launched from the side for a pack mark so good, some of the SA fans clapped.

Ablett converted, the Vics led 2.1 (13) to 1.3 (9). SA’s Tony Francis went off with a hamstring injury.

Late on, the Vics ran down Kappler after a great one-handed mark. The ball went to the square — Ablett wheeled away, Smart slipped, Ablett snapped over his shoulder and the Vics had a 10-point lead.

In the final minute Stynes marked but sprayed it for a point. SA went straight up the middle. With seconds left, Kappler’s kick found Modra. The SA star stepped through and drilled it.

VIC 3.2 (20) SA 2.4 (16) at quarter-time.

Second quarter

SA cut off an early Vic attack and went on the charge. An errant kick still found a leaping Modra deep in the pocket. He ran around and snapped to put SA ahead. 

Two years after starring for South Australia against Victoria, Tony Modra won the Fos Williams Medal for SA’s best on ground as his team beat Western Australia.(Getty Images, file photo)

A minute later, Modra kicked his fourth. Later, halfway through the term, Scott Russell chipped over the Vic defence for Darren Jarman to mark, lope towards goal and slot it.

Hocking, Mil Hanna and Chris Grant (doing the ruck work) were holding up the Vic end of things. SA missed some chances but the visitors still trailed by nearly two goals.

At the other end, Gavin Brown chipped to a diving Ablett in the left forward pocket. It was a nasty angle, but Ablett’s kick was laser-like. It was Modra four, Ablett three — or if you preferred, SA 5.5 (35) VIC 4.6 (30).

A goal to Russell extended the lead, then in time on, SA went inside 50. Langford punched the ball high, Modra and Silvagni contested on the goal line, Modra got his toe to it and he had five.

Modra kicked another point late on, before the Vics responded with chaos footy. The ball clean-bowled the SA defence to land with Hocking, who accepted the gift, and drilled it from 30. The half ended with a tremendous defensive hanger from SA’s David Hynes.

At half-time it was SA 7.6 (48) VIC 5.8 (38)

The Vics had a personnel issue, as injured skipper Garry Lyon was not there after the break.

It was Langford on Kernahan, Smart on Ablett, Ricciuto on Hanna and Brad Boyd to full-forward with Neitz at half-forward as the siren sounded.

Third quarter

Victoria managed two behinds in the first few minutes, to make it SA 7.6 (48) VIC 5.10 (40). The Vics had kicked 2.8 since quarter-time.

At one point David Calthorpe had the ball for Victoria along the boundary. He baulked as an SA defender flew past him, then Jameson closed in and Calthorpe shoved him in the throat. Jameson went down, no free, as the crowd howled. Three decades on, Jameson recalls a different era.

“What was accepted back then is not necessarily accepted now. [Then], we just got on with it … you copped one high or ground into the [turf], or you were involved in a sling tackle that didn’t end up with a severe injury, you just copped it. That was all part of the game [then], the hip and shoulder, the shirt front,” he says.

Vic missed another shot, but there were alarms flashing for the home side.

With 12:51 to go in the third it was SA 7.6 (48) VIC 5.11 (41).

Every kick, every handpass seemed like a breath away from calamity — and everyone waited for a big moment.

The great Gary Ablett kicked 43 goals in 11 matches for Victoria — some more spectacular than others.(Getty Images, file photo)

It started with Gavin Brown looking up to the square — and everyone in the ground knew who he was looking for.

Gary Ablett was surrounded by Wanganeen and Smart. Wanganeen spoiled brilliantly, as he and the ball went to ground, near the behind line. Ablett took the ball and turned his back to goal with a nanosecond to spare before being crunched.

He dropped the ball while falling away and hooked his boot around it in an inspired up-and-under. 44,000 pairs of eyes watched the perfect parabola. The ball arced high in the air, then dropped.

Boyd was waiting to pounce, but no-one would take this freak goal off Ablett. It bounced through, and “God” had four. The crowd was half-stunned, half-accepting of a moment of magic from a footy great.

11:04 to go Q3: SA 7.6 (48) VIC 6.11 (47)

SA answered through Darren Kappler, but two minutes later Ablett kicked to Gavin Brown near the square, and he marked and kicked the goal, deflating the crowd. 

7:34 to go Q3: SA 8.6 (54) VIC 7.11 (53) 

It was stalemate for a few minutes, then Stynes marked, ran in and missed. Scores were level.

2:53 to go Q3: SA 8.6 (54) VIC 7.12 (54)

The Croweaters went coast-to-coast, starting with Smart’s kick-out and ending with Troy Bond finding John Platten, and the kick by “the Rat” wobbled through as the decibel level peaked.

2:27 to go Q3: SA 9.6 (60) VIC 7.12 (54)

The visitors went long again, it fell to Hocking running next to McKay, who was staying goalside. Hocking pulled out a bit of Buddha brilliance, flicking it perfectly to edge it across the line. The crowd was silenced.

1:16 to go Q3: SA 9.6 (60) VIC 8.12 (60)

More pinball football ensued, with a bad miss from Hanna in the final seconds. Siren — the Vics were in front.

To end the third quarter, it was: SA 9.6 (60) VIC 8.13 (61)

Graham Cornes was animated in the SA huddle with lots of hand gestures. The Big V was firing up for one more crack.

The game was in the balance and the Malcolm Blight Cup was up for grabs.

Final quarter

There were 25 seconds of mayhem to start, with bodies flying everywhere and no-one could control the ball.

Eventually, SA went forward, a kick from McDermott was punched away. But David Hynes nudged it with his foot, picked it up, ran and kicked it just clear of Silvagni’s flailing hand on the line.

17:57 to go Q4: SA 10.6 (66) VIC 8.13 (61)

SA attacked again, Modra was outside Silvagni’s shoulder. Modra got his foot across it as he fell, and soccered it diagonally across goal and between the sticks. Modra had six.

16:53 to go Q4: SA 11.6 (72) VIC 8.13 (61).

SA kicked two behinds from three chances, and with 14:55 to go: SA 11.8 (74), VIC 8.13 (61).

The Vics were hanging on. A long kick to the square led to a free to Kernahan, 15 out, just to the right of the square.

Suddenly there was a delay, as umpire Chris Mitchell helped find Kernahan’s lost contact lens — the delay went on, the crowd got restless. Pressure makes diamonds … and sometimes it produces bricks. “Sticks” ran in, and missed the lot, out on the full in the back pocket as the fans groaned.

“I think most of us were probably just taking a breath and taking a breather, because the game was that intense. And when you look around the ground, they’ve actually got their hands on their knees or their shorts, just to take in a big one,” Jameson says of the delay.

The Vics lost Mark Harvey with a twisted ankle. A scrappy attack led to a miss from Darren Jarman.

SA 11.9 (75), VIC 8.13 (61). 

The visitors HAD to get the next goal. Ablett marked above his head and kept moving. He went the torp from outside 60 — it fell short before Hanna snapped for goal.

“You could always tell if it’s an opposition goal by the crowd silence,” Cornes says. “When a South Australian team or a Crows team was playing, you can always tell by the silence.”

9:13 to go Q4: SA 11.9 (75) VIC 9.13 (67)

The next few minutes saw Vics pushing forward — because they had to.

Danny Frawley ran onto an incoming ball and heaved it downfield. Ablett shepherded Smart and Hanna handballed clear to Mercuri. The Bombers man stopped, propped and drove it home. A murmur went around Footy Park. This. Was. On.

4:07 to go Q4: SA 11.9 (75) VIC 10.13 (73)

In case of a draw, it would be extra time at both ends. No-one wanted to think of that — they could barely take it as it was. The Vics sensed a chance to turn things around and grab a sweet win in enemy territory.

Two minutes left.

Frawley got it and kicked long to the outer wing to Hocking but McKay took a brilliant grab after a couple of efforts. A huge ovation from the crowd.

In the Victorian box, Rod Austin was on the phone making energetic hand gestures urging his players forward.

The final minute

1:05 left

Ricciuto kicked wide for the comfort of the boundary, the crowd urged it over, but Sholl ran it down and toed it between about four players — Mercuri got to the ball ahead of Platten but was brought down by Ricciuto.

The ball skittered around on the ground, time ticked down.

It came to a stop on the 50, everyone dived on it. Ball up.

There were nerves in the stands, nerves on the field, nerves in the box.

It was fierce, it was epic. The crowd was simply roaring … equal parts exhilaration and outrage.

36 seconds left.

A bounce — Hocking grabbed it again, it was scrubbed forward.

The ball fell to Chris Grant just inside 50, the crowd screamed. He ran forward, Jameson and Andrew Jarman were behind him, and David Neitz behind them.

Wanganeen rushed in from the side and grabbed the Bulldogs star as he kicked.

It went high and short of the goal, with two players at the back, Ablett and Smart in front.

It cannoned off the players at the back, as Ablett pulled Smart aside (with solid force), the Vics spearhead grabbed it near the square and swung his left boot through it. The goal umpire looked about to signal a major, walked forward but then reversed direction. Free to SA for Ablett slinging Smart to the ground.

Ablett was talking to the umpire as he stood the mark. The crowd was going off.

In the Victorian box, Ted Whitten sat back down.

On the field, Smart kicked down the outer wing, Stephen Tingay and Jameson contested. Tingay stumbled, Jameson ran after the ball. Hanna charged across, the ball came off Jameson’s boot and over the boundary, 80m from the Victorian goal.

Eight seconds left.

Whitten’s hand was over his mouth, staring out the window. The crowd was buzzing.

The throw-in was Stynes, Rehn, Boyd, Andrew Jarman and Todd Viney. Stynes tapped over his head, the ball cannoned off a foot and ran 20m towards the SA goal, but Nathan Burke unloaded one last kick.

The pack gathered 35-40 out, Ricciuto and others there for SA, Ablett was rising, rising for the ball as the siren sounded. The roar was deafening. SA had won the closest-ever Origin game between the two states.

SA 11.9 (75), VIC 10.13 (73)

“The last few minutes as a coach, you can’t do anything. You just have to let it play out. There’s always luck involved when a game is won by less than a goal. And perhaps the luck was with us that day. But I can tell you there were some mighty efforts,” Cornes says.

The aftermath

Ian Robertson on Seven said: “It’s the best football game I’ve seen”.

That might have been hyperbole for the TV audience, but given the stage, the crowd, the players, the contest, the drama, the sheer Origin fire of it, there was plenty to mount an argument.

On the ground ahead of post-match interviews, Whitten was heard questioning what THAT free to Smart was for — although you’d think Mr Football would never have agreed with any free kick being paid against the Big V.

Thirty years on, it’s fair to say there are still some different views.

“I stood Chris Grant for most of the night. That was my opponent that was kicking it forward. So I was hell-bent on trying to restrict him having a shot on goal. But again, the intensity of the game was like that all the way through,” Jameson says.

“Nigel Smart is an outstanding defender and Gary Ablett, just swung him out of the play really. He kicked the goal after he disposed of Nige and the umpire called that accordingly.”

For Hocking, that interstate rivalry still comes easily to him.

“It came down to the wire, there was the free kick on Nigel Smart,” he said.

“Gary Ablett might have just tossed him out of the road or — would Nigel Smart get a couple of weeks for taking a dive now? I’m not too sure,” Hocking says with a wink in his voice.

David Calthorpe won the EJ Whitten medal, Andrew Jarman the Fos Williams Medal for SA.

Malcolm Blight came to the stage to present the cup in his name.

“We really enjoyed a fantastic game of football. If there’s any doubt whether we should play state football I think we only have to look at tonight’s game. May it last forever,” he said.

Those fine words were proved wrong within half a decade.

The following day, Whitten was centre stage once more.

“He [Whitten] was a fantastic ambassador for the game. And he came into Adelaide and … we loved him to be quite frank, we loved him, we understood the theatre of it all,” Cornes says.

“There was a bet that [if Victoria lost] he’d have to wear a jumper down Rundle Mall, our main shopping area. And he did, held up all the traffic and wearing this red South Australian jumper, which was far, far too tight for him. But he just embraced the whole theatre of it, it wouldn’t have been the same without Teddy Whitten. There’s no doubt about that.”

Ted’s farewell — the MCG State of Origin clash in 1995

Emotions ran high at the MCG in 1995 for Ted Whitten’s farewell lap of honour prior to the Victoria-South Australia match. (Getty Images )

The following year it was Victoria and South Australia again, at the MCG — the Big V was out for revenge, for more reasons than one.

According to Garry Hocking, the players had made a vow and there was no turning back. 

“We weren’t losing that game, off the back of the ’94 loss we were, the players were dead [set] on honouring Teddy but also redemption for that game in ’94 — Ted Whitten was gonna leave the MCG once again the best state around.

“So we made a pact as players not to lose that game. SA could have brought over [36] players we weren’t going to lose that game for Ted Whitten and what he did for State of Origin footy.”

Whitten was gravely ill with cancer, but there was time for one last acknowledgement of his life and footy career.

Half of Melbourne would claim to have been there that day — officially, 64,136 people came through the gates to watch the Big V and see Ted.

The weather was all Melbourne, with intermittent rain — but the energy in the stands was something to behold.

Ted and his son Ted Jr and grandchildren did a lap of honour in the back of a car. The crowds cheered, Mariah Carey’s Hero blasted from the stadium speakers, and Ted Jr leaned into his father’s ear to point out signs and well-wishers.

Ted Sr was partially blind by this point — at various stages during the lap he made his traditional arm signal to match his trademark “we stuck it right up them” motto, to rev up the crowd. At other times he would lean in next to his son, putting an arm back around Ted Jr’s head in moments of heartfelt connection.

The entire crowd was standing, including those in red, yellow and blue supporting SA.

Along the fence line near the race were St Kilda’s Danny Frawley, former South Melbourne and Victorian great Bob Skilton and others. All had tears in their eyes, or were on the verge.

At the end of the lap, Ted was met by his old footy adversary and great mate Neil Kerley. Ted and “Knuckles” embraced and spoke to each other briefly, two old warriors on their old stomping ground. It was a fitting finale for a lap that — like the great man himself — was part scene-setter, part showstopper.

As the crowd got ready for the game, Whitten went down to the Victorian rooms with his son.

Hocking remembers it vividly.

“He was failing with his eyesight and I don’t think he could see very much. It might have been one or two per cent. 

“But he knew you by touch so I remember he came over and he tried to give me the almighty handshake where he pulls you inwards and squeezes the life and tries to break every finger. And then what he did was he knew who I was. And I had long curly hair he grabbed the back of my hair and he said: ‘You rip in today, Buddha. Go the Vics.’

“Then he went over to Ablett and he just knew by commentating and knowing the players, he knew who each player was by the shake or the feel or something that player had. 

“To witness his aura, although frail, his aura. I can’t explain it. It was, it was unbelievable to have that fella in the room [after] doing the lap of honour. We were never losing that game of footy.”

Graham Cornes and the Croweaters were getting ready for the game.

“As a coach and a team, we’re in the changing rooms, you’ve got no idea what’s happening in the passion that’s within the stadium. Neil Kerley excuses himself, goes up, stands inside the boundary,” Cornes recalls.

After his moment with Whitten, “Kerls comes back down into the change room. So we have the last few minutes of pre-match address, and the players run up the race.

“I walk up after them, Neil Kerley is following me up the race. 

“Having just witnessed all the Teddy Whitten emotion, he’s walking behind me and said: ‘Jesus Christ Graham, we have no f****** chance today’. That’s my team manager saying to the coach that we’ve got no chance given the emotion that was in that stadium. 

“So from a Victorian point of view, that might have been the climax, but from I think overall the 1994 game was the game — they’ve never been able to capture the right moment or the right spirit of State of Origin since.”

Everyone knew what was coming. The Big V did not disappoint. With Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall and Ablett in the line-up, the Victorian forward line was too hot to handle.

The home side kicked six goals to one in the opening quarter, and never looked back. The scoreboard at the end read: Victoria 18.12 (120) South Australia 8.9 (57).

That day at the MCG ranks up there with the most famous in footy history.

Two months later, on August 17, 1995, EJ “Ted” Whitten died in Melbourne.

The State of Origin concept lasted another four years, but without Ted’s force of personality, it was easier for clubs and players to opt out.

The game, and the AFL, moved on.

The future?

When asked the hard question about a return to State of Origin footy, virtually everyone nods sadly and accepts the consensus, while wishing there was a way back.

Francis Doherty takes a different view.

Footy historian Francis Doherty says club football can’t beat playing for the Big V or the Croweaters.(Supplied: Francis Doherty)

“To say we have it [interstate footy] every week is wrong. We have club versus club, fair enough …

“But there’s nothing like supporting your state. You can support your club obviously, but to support your state and to see the Big V or the Croweater or the big Tassie Apple, there’s nothing like it.

“And I do think it will return because nostalgia does have a way of finding its way back into everyone’s thinking once in a while.

“It’s definitely overdue for another one, because … every generation of players deserves the chance to represent their state. Representing their club isn’t representing their state, because it’s not a state guernsey it’s the club guernsey.”

Hocking is more fatalistic about the chances of a return, but he has some advice for the modernists and those who only know the AFL premiership as the be-all and end-all of football or who can’t recall the alternative.

“Social media has a lot of its detractors, but you know, you can actually go back, there might be a 10-year or 15- or 20- or 30-year anniversary and a game will bob up [on the net],” he says.

“Sometimes it’s good for that thing to bob up and you think I remember that game, remember the players, or remember the outcome. Remember Ted Whitten, that’s the good thing about it, it allows people to look back on that [time] and go wow, Jesus. Not a bad game of footy.” 

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