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‘The hairs on the back of my neck still stand up'

Dear Queenslanders,

My first memories of playing rugby league are from when I was four-and-a-half, going on five-years-old, playing for our junior club Norths in Ipswich.

I played all of my junior football there; I played first grade there and then moved to the Broncos after that… but all my junior football, which I loved, was played at the Norths Tigers – and I was a big four-and-a-half year old too, don’t you worry.

Originally, the club was called Railways and my dad played at that club, that was our club and we still love being a part of it.

My mum and my brothers are still involved there at the club, it’s a part of our lives. It’s a great club and I moved on to play with the Ipswich Jets and then the Broncos; it was a great starting point and certainly a good talking point around Ipswich.

Allan Langer's mum Rita in rare interview

How I got started in the game… mum and dad loved the sport; I had a sister and three brothers, so a lot of backyard football growing up… we loved the sport and were involved with it all our lives.

All my brothers played. In winter, it was rugby league… in summer, it was cricket.

Rugby league was our favourite, and we certainly had a lot of backyard battles and a lot of school battles because we had a lot of friends in our area that came and played backyard football at the park or at home. Up until dark, rugby league was the go.

State of Origin was extra special. The first Origin game where Arthur Beetson ran out onto the field, we were lucky enough to get ticket, so we caught the train from Ipswich and I can still remember running on to the field after the game.

It was an amazing event and certainly the roar of the crowd when Arthur Beetson ran out was something I’ll never forget.

I was lucky enough seven years later in ‘87 to be a part of it and ran on to this beautiful ground and the hairs on the back of my neck still stand up thinking about the moment I ran out playing Origin with the great Wally Lewis.

Back then in the first game, I didn’t realise how special Origin would become, but certainly the event, the roar and Queensland winning was great, because we had New South Wales-based players coming back and playing for Queensland, so it was fantastic.

But there was no knowing it was going to be going 40 years later. You look at the hype coming into camp even now, the build-up, where the game is going to be, it’s still a special event.

It’s the best three games of the year and I’m lucky enough to be involved with the Queensland side for the best three games of the year.

39 - Maroons team song

For my first game in maroon, I was lucky to get picked that year by Wayne Bennett; Laurie Spina was the other guy who was nearly chosen to be the halfback, but luckily enough, I got chosen.

To go into camp with the great Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Greg Dowling, Greg Conescu, Colin Scott – to go into camp and mix with those guys and with me coming from Ipswich, catching the train into the camp into Roma Street Travel Lodge, it was an amazing day.

I can still remember it and still remember going in; in awe of these guys, but lucky enough to be playing with them.

Running onto the field for the game was something else… the crowd, the national anthem, you think of all your junior coaches, your teachers, everyone who was involved in the build-up to get me to where I was to that Origin point.

It was a special moment with the national anthem… it brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.

The disappointing thing in that game is that we got beaten and I can still remember Mark McGaw scoring in the last second to get New South Wales the victory, but lucky enough, in that series we won the next two games and won the series – the first series I was involved in.

It was a special year and the start of my footy career.

Donning maroon. Photo: QRL
Donning maroon. Photo: QRL

But my favourite and most defining Origin memory for me I think is the mateship when you come into camp. I think the biggest thing being involved with the Queensland team is the mateship and the friends you keep for the rest of your career.

Certainly playing here, and still today, I have never been involved with a Queensland team who don’t get on… they are great mates, have a good time, bonding sessions we’ve had over the years are always pretty special and great memories and certainly ones you can take to your grave.

The “entertainment manager” is part of my title, but as I said, I love having a great time and I love seeing other people having a great time. The enjoyment I get out of it and still seeing these young guys, they’re still human, they like having a beer and a good time, but you have got to limit how many they can have these days.

One special memory is probably my “comeback” and that was probably the best week of my life.

15 - Alfie answers Origin SOS

To get a second chance at playing Origin, not too many players get it, so I was lucky. Wayne Bennett called me back from England and just the build-up, the hype from that week and a victory made a sweeter. It was a great thing for me, and a great thing Queensland could go out winners again… just the enjoyment coming back and seeing the enjoyment on Queenslanders faces.

It happens every year and I still think another great moment was last year.

Being involved in that series after COVID-19 hit and the last game, which was a full house at Suncorp Stadium, where people said we couldn’t win, and to see those young guys go out and play so great.... and taking the bus up Caxton Street after the game and seeing the young guys’ faces light up and to see how many Queenslanders they pleased that night.

Win at the end of the bubble. Photo: NRL Images
Win at the end of the bubble. Photo: NRL Images

It wasn’t just Caxton Street, it was all over Queensland, it was a special moment that I’ll never forget.

I’m a Queenslander through and through and I’m proud of that.

Kind regards,

Allan ‘Alfie’ Langer

FOG #50