THE DESIRE to wear the Big V was coursing through the veins in 2008.

The state's captain, Jonathan Brown, defied both a sore hamstring – and the orders of his Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews to withdraw from the match – to pull on the famous jumper.

06:25 Mins
Published on

Highlights: Victoria v Dream Team Hall of Fame Tribute Match

The champions of the game celebrate 150 years of Australian football in front of 69,294 fans at the MCG on May 10, 2008

Published on

But for Hawthorn premiership defender Campbell Brown, the dream of representing Victoria upset perhaps an even more daunting figure than 'Lethal Leigh'. He risked the wrath of his own father to feature at the MCG.

Brown's dad, Mal, was a staunchly passionate West Australian. He enjoyed a distinguished WAFL career at East Perth, Claremont and South Fremantle, while he also represented the Sandgropers at State of Origin level 16 times as a player and eight times as a coach.

It meant Campbell's decision to don the navy-blue colours of Victoria equated to a few frosty moments at the dinner table the next time the pair saw each other.

01:40 Mins
Published on

When Ross and Lloydy pulled on the Big V

Ross Lyon and Matthew Lloyd look back on their games for Victoria in State of Origin

Published on

"My old man was disgusted that I put on the Big V," Brown told

"He was a previous captain and coach of Western Australia, so that was the first hurdle to get over.

"(But) I went to the Victoria v South Australia game where Teddy Whitten did that lap of honour. I just absolutely loved it. From that moment, I dreamt of playing footy and then eventually hoped to one day get the opportunity to represent the Big V.

"I didn't think it would happen, so when they floated the idea in 2008 I didn't have to think twice about it. If I was even in the mix, I was putting my hand up to play. It was a great privilege to get the opportunity."

Brown, who was born in Western Australia, moved to Victoria when he was just nine years old. Having played junior footy for the Hawthorn Citizens before representing Oakleigh in the TAC Cup, it was therefore the Big V that stole his heart.

LIVING THE DREAM When Buddy, Pav, Richo and Moons joined forces

"All of my junior memories were of going to the MCG," Brown said.

"Because I played my first underage game in Victoria, I qualified as a Victorian.

I just wanted to put the Big V on, so I didn't really even consider playing for Western Australia or the Dream Team.

- Campbell Brown

The State of Origin clash in 2008, which was played as a Hall of Fame tribute match that helped celebrate the 150th anniversary of Australian rules football, was contested at the height of Hawthorn and Geelong's dominance of the game.

The Hawks would beat a Cats team that had lost just one game all season in the Grand Final of that particular year, while the two clubs would share in seven of nine premierships from 2007-15.

Richmond's Dustin Martin (left) and Dylan Grimes line up for the national anthem ahead of the qualifying final against Hawthorn in 2018. Picture: AFL Photos

The Victorian team that played that night featured three Hawthorn players and seven Geelong players – as well as a Geelong coach in Mark Thompson – while the Dream Team it competed against had a further five Cats and Hawks players.

Two of Victoria's assistant coaches – Brenton Sanderson and Ken Hinkley – were also assistants under Thompson with Geelong at the time.

01:02 Mins
Published on

'The most skilful game I've played in': Pendlebury reflects on Big V outing

Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury shares his memories of the 2008 State of Origin game

Published on

But, despite two of Brown's Hawthorn teammates in Lance Franklin and Trent Croad playing out a fascinating individual battle on opposing sides at the MCG, it was his rivals who the tough Hawk enjoyed playing with the most.

Graham Johncock and Campbell Brown swap jumpers after the Hall of Fame Tribute match in 2008. Picture: AFL Photos

"Straight away, you're in awe of the blokes that you're playing with," Brown said.

"I was a defender, so I was lining up next to Matthew Scarlett and Darren Milburn and those blokes that you usually play against.

"It was a great learning opportunity, but the emphasis was definitely on putting on a bit of a show and being super attacking. There wasn't a whole lot of defence, as you can imagine.

"But, in saying that, in the last quarter when the game got tight you wanted to win for your state. The last 15 minutes was like a normal, proper game." 

Victoria won the 2008 State of Origin clash by 17 points, overcoming a three-quarter time deficit to secure the victory. 


B: Campbell Brown (Hawthorn), Matthew Scarlett (Geelong), Darren Milburn (Geelong)
HB: Heath Shaw (Collingwood), Trent Croad (Hawthorn), Jarrad Waite (Carlton)
C: Brent Harvey (North Melbourne), Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn), Adam Goodes (Sydney)
HF: Ryan O'Keefe (Sydney), Jonathan Brown (Brisbane), Robert Murphy (Western Bulldogs)
F: Steve Johnson (Geelong), Brendan Fevola (Carlton), Daniel Bradshaw (Brisbane)
Foll: Troy Simmonds (Richmond), Jimmy Bartel (Geelong), Chris Judd (Carlton)
I/C: Josh Fraser (Collingwood), Luke Power (Brisbane), Paul Chapman (Geelong), James Kelly (Geelong), Nathan Foley (Richmond), Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood), Joel Selwood (Geelong)
Coach: Mark Thompson (Geelong)
Assistant coaches: Kevin Sheedy (unattached), Chris Scott (Fremantle), Brenton Sanderson (Geelong), Ken Hinkley (Geelong)

Goals: Fevola 6, Johnson 3, Brown 3, Harvey 3, Bradshaw, O'Keefe, Murphy, Brown, Chapman, Foley
Disposals: Harvey 23, Mitchell 21, Goodes 21, Shaw 21, Foley 21