The ‘disgusting’ moment when booing affected The King
He’s called ‘The King’ for a reason.
In the early days of State of Origin, Wally Lewis was Man of the Match in 5 of the first 10 games, which rendered the Rugby League Immortal peerless in Queensland but reviled in New South Wales.
Accordingly, The King has experienced his fair share of boos over the years, usually hurled his way from the mouths of angry Blues supporters after slumping to another defeat.
The booing of champions is in the headlines again after Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury was booed by Bombers fans while he was accepting the Anzac Medal for a best on ground performance.
As a player, The King could normally shrug off the boos, however there was a rare occasion when the taunts of the crowd pierced through his otherwise impenetrable exterior.
“About the only time it really got to me was when I was the Australian captain,” Wally tells David Morrow and Julian King.
“It was my first game as Australian captain, I ran on to the Sydney Cricket Ground and we were introduced to the crowd one by one, and I was booed on,
“About the only thing that really got to me was when the Australian National Anthem started and that’s when the fans started to cheer ‘Wally’s a wanker,’
“I thought to myself ‘well, that’ll do me’, they haven’t put their interstate rivalry aside, I’m playing for Australia here – the home side – yet I’m still copping it,”
Credit: NRL Hall of Fame
You could forgive a player for lashing out if they were treated so disrespectfully, but Wally Lewis was lucky to have the support of another Rugby League Immortal who passed on a piece of sage advice to The King.
“At the end of the game I was a little bit dirty on the world, but thankfully I had plenty of time in those days to talk to Arthur Beetson about anything that was a disturbing factor for me, and Beetso used to say ‘mate, when those things happen, use them to your advantage,
“It was something I never forgot, I used to use it to inspire me in State of Origin matches that followed, and if anything I knew that I was always going to be in the right frame of mind,
“Is it a compliment? Well, no it’s not. Can you do anything about it? Well, no, you can’t, but you’ve got to be able to use the poor features of life in reverse, to boost you and give you a bonus.”
Over a long and accomplished career, David Morrow has been in the thick of countless famous Australian sporting moments and was broadcasting from the SCG on the day fans booed their national team’s captain.
“Probably the most disgusting day I’ve ever broadcast in my life was that day, I felt so embarrassed for Wally,” Morrow said.
“You sit there and think, ‘this bloke’s the Australian captain, have some manners.”
Click PLAY to hear Wally Lewis recall the shameful day he was booed at the SCG.