THEY call it State of Origin, but when the Glebe Greyhounds play their Victorian rivals, the Ocean Grove Cobras in their annual gala day, it’s about more than football.
On Sunday, 3 July more than 110 players from Ocean Grove swapped the Bellarine Peninsula for Sydney Harbour, taking on Glebe at Gore Hill Oval in seven boys and girls matches across U10s, U12s and U14s.
Fundraising efforts from both clubs meant the gala raised almost $20,000 for River’s Gift, a Geelong-based charity which aims to stamp out SIDS.
River’s Gift funds scientific research, provides safe sleep education, unites SIDS families and raises awareness of this devastating syndrome. You can donate to River’s Gift via the State of Origin page here.
The idea for the State of Origin match came about six years ago when two old schoolmates from Geelong, Cain Sarah (Glebe) and Harvey Stephenson (Ocean Grove), were having Christmas together.
After a few drinks, they started talking about how good it would be if their boys – who are the same age – could play a game against each other… so what about a footy trip?
A Geelong-based friend of the pair, Karl Waddell, had recently started the charity River’s Gift following the death of his son, River, from SIDS, and supporting such a worthy charity through kids’ footy just made sense.
First journey south
Just six months later, in 2017, a hardy bunch of 14 under-11s from Glebe set off for Ocean Grove for the first-ever match.
The Bellarine Peninsula in July is a far cry from Sydney’s beautiful winter sun, but the boys were determined to prove their toughness, donning only short-sleeved footy jumpers, with no undershirts or compression gear.
Needless to say, their Ocean Grove opponents were dressed a little more appropriately and thumped the shivering Greyhounds.
Ocean Grove turned out in droves for that first match, and it wasn’t only because of the home game convenience. In 2018, the Cobras sent two sides to Sydney. In 2019, Glebe doubled it and sent four teams to Ocean Grove.
Of course, 2020 and 2021 were write-offs for interstate travel and, sadly, most junior sport, so the tradition was put on hiatus until this year, where it has returned with gusto.
Despite challenging weather – almost 200mm of rain fell in Sydney on the State of Origin matches – the Glebe Greyhounds proved to be excellent hosts for the Cobras and their families.
Due to the rain, games were moved from the Greyhounds’ home at Jubilee Oval to Gore Hill Oval, St Leonards. Glebe arranged buses to shuttle players and their families back and forth throughout the day so they could access the BBQ and cake stall in Glebe.
The Greyhounds also arranged a pre-game function at the Tramsheds on the evening before the matches, with almost everyone involved turning up to get to know one another and raise more funds.
The clubs could both purchase commemorative hoodies, and the Greyhound players did a run-a-thon, asking people to sponsor them as they ran laps of the oval, hoping to cover the 962-kilometre distance from Glebe to Grove (that’s around 2400 laps of Jubilee Oval!).
The winner is...
The result of the State of Origin matches between these two clubs have never been important.
It’s an opportunity to raise money for a great cause, get to know people from another state, and carry on a great community tradition.
Well done to everyone involved in getting games, which ran from 8am until 4pm on a day when junior footy was supposed to be on break for school holidays.
But if you must know, of the seven games played, the Cobras won all of them, leaving the Greyhounds with plenty to play for next year.
All action shots courtesy of Nat Sports Media.