IT doesn’t get much bigger than this for Gympie rugby league fans.
This weekend, 100 exceptional years of rugby league will be celebrated by the Gympie Cooloola Rugby League Club Friday night at the Gympie Civic Centre.
Incorporated in the celebrations will be the highly popular Birth of Origin Show.
The show includes original State of Origin skippers Tommy Raudonikis and ‘Big’ Artie Beetson.
Both former players are listed in the NRL’s 100 greatest players and have played for Australia.
But if that wasn’t enough, Albert Park Saturday fires up with an action-packed program of eight games.
A highlight of the line up will the City vs Country QCUP match, to be televised live on ABC TV.
The magic line up of matches also includes the interstate women’s match between Queensland and New South Wales – a game bound to be full of feeling as New South Wales continues to hurt with its Origin wounds.
Gympie Rugby League president Scott Dodt said excitement was building ahead of Friday night and the bumper program of matches Saturday.
“It’s our biggest weekend of the year,” he said. “It’s going to be huge and a great way for us to look back on our history.”
Tickets for the special dinner have been on sale for over a month and sold out close to three weeks ago.
Dodt said event organisers were overwhelmed by the response.
“Our expectations have definitely been exceeded (with the ticket sales),” he said.
Despite tickets being sold out, a few cancellations have seen a handful go back on sale over the last week.
For a chance at picking up a ticket, contact Harcourts Gympie in Mary Street to check for any cancellations.
Meanwhile, helping fuel the popularity of the dinner has been a special State of Origin jersey that will be going under the hammer as part of a memorabilia auction.
The jersey has been signed by all 12 Queensland skippers since the Origin’s inception and is a unique piece for any mad footy collector.
“It’s one-of-a-kind,” Dodt said. “That’s definitely a major drawcard of the night.”
Paul Cummings, one of the organisers for the big weekend, had the Charity Cup yesterday ready to go on display.
The cup, originally contested in rugby union, is made of silver, tracing the growth of league back to when Gympie had its own competition.
Dodt thanked Gympie Regional Council for its support ahead of the busy day Saturday at Albert Park.
“They’ve been busy painting and tidying up the grounds and grandstand,” he said.
The oval’s surface has been carefully tended to while the lighting has been given a long overdue upgrade.
An expected 2000 people are expected to cram Albert Park Saturday for the day of league matches and cost at the gate is $6.
Saturday’s program as follows:
U14 Gympie vs Caloundra – 8.30am
U18s Gympie vs Caloundra – 9.40am
U16s Rep North vs South – 11am
City vs Country (Live on ABC) – 2pm
C Grade Rep North vs South – 4pm
Reserve Grade Gympie vs Caloundra – 5.20pm
A Grade Gympie vs Caloundra – 6.40pm