The first Origin game was a bit tentative, but as tough as you would expect. The Maroons’whole score was registered by Storm players. Chambers (5) scored a try from the wing and was rated by some as BOG. The game was largely directed by the captain Cameron Smith (9), Billy Slater (1) and Cooper Cronk (7). They play in the same position for the Storm and Australia. Our greatest ex, Greg Inglis (3 or 4, I think), had a quiet night. (We lost him because the NRL did not accept our version of double entry accounting.)
In spite of the obvious attraction of my own players, the two I like watching most are blackfellas, Sam Thaiday (11 or 12) and the other great play-maker Jonathon Thurston (6). Thaiday is a brick dunny that moves. Failure or weakness is not in him. If anyone gets cheeky, they have Mr Thaiday in their face instanter. That would settle anyone down. He is what we used to call, and admire, the Enforcer. Thurston is one of the most complete footballers I have been privileged to watch. He is a dedicated professional who never stops giving. He is made of some kind of wire that means that he cannot be killed. To see him assessing and confronting the entire enemy line is a prize in Australian sport. He could wear my colours anywhere.
The second match will be at the MCG in front of about 90,000. Apart from the AFL Grand Final, it could be our sporting event of the year.
I got from the Folio Society another collection of the works of Abraham Lincoln. Quite by chance, it fell open at the following letter to the daughter of an American statesman. It was written while Lincoln was President, and when the Civil War had shown how deadly it was. It was written by a man with a whole nation on his back.
It is with deep regret that I learn of the death of your kind and brave Father; and, especially, that it is affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such cases. In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned ever to expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot now realise that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once. The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known before.
Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother. Your sincere friend,
There you have the great man – honesty, sense, and compassion. Lincoln had all three, as if from God. The current lot have Sweet Fanny Adams – from anywhere.
What has this to do with Origin? Some can lead; most cannot. I simply cannot envisage a finer leader of a nation than Abraham Lincoln. The film The great poets’ society made famous that poem by Walt Whitman about Lincoln ‘O Captain, my Captain.’ We get to see leadership of different sorts in our various sports in this country. If you can find a finer captain of a sporting team than Cameron Smith, I would be glad if you could let me know.