The crew of HMAS Newcastle (CMDR Paul O’Grady, CSM) has cheered on their teams during the first rugby league State of Origin match of 2013 while on their first patrol in the MEAO.
Origin day started as most others on patrol in the Indian Ocean, conducting maritime security operations but Origin day was different.
It was the day when team Newcastle would be split asunder in the passionate rivalry of Blues versus Maroons.
There was a sense of excitement and wonder in the air, it was electric, it was as if the energy of Rugby League fans had been bottled up since last year and was about to be unleashed - not in ANZ Stadium, but HMAS Newcastle’s café where about 100 people (almost half the crew) sat and watched game one.
In a display of desperation, NSW fans decided to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to get the Blues over the line.
They reached out to Newcastle’s embarked Chaplain, Grant Ludlow, for divine intervention.
He performed a spiritual cleansing of a few Blues jerseys (using past tears of sorrow instead of holy water), ensuring the ghosts departed to give Blues supporters an edge over their northern counterparts.
As the game started the café came to life, every seat taken and deck space going quickly.
ABCIS Carissa Andrews was one proud and vocal Queensland supporter.
“I don’t think the blessing the Padre provided is going to do much. Queensland is just far too good and will want to start strong,” ABCIS Andrews said.
The jersey cleansing worked though, with NSW drawing first blood and taking an early lead.
Mothballed Blues jerseys surfaced from bottom lockers and were proudly paraded as the Blues supporters had a whiff of an unlikely victory.
The scene remained tense throughout the match with the Blues barely hanging on to their lead in the second half.
With a win under their belts, Newcastle’s Blues supporters have claimed early bragging rights, but it’s expected that there will be requests for jerseys of both colours in the next care package shipments.
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130297.