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I'm starting to feel the panic rise as my eyes desperately dart across these foreign streets looking for a sign, a clue, a glimmer of hope. Our 12:30 deadline is looming, I have no idea where I am, I barely remember what I am doing, and in these dark, unfriendly lanes I feel like a trespasser undertaking a hideous deed. More lights catch my attention, and I venture forth out of the darkness into the warm glow, a shadow emerging from a land far away that these people know little of.
But this is not what I am looking for. For the last three days I have wandered the streets of France, in search of the Holy Grail, and unlike certain best selling books, I didn't find it underneath a glass pyramid in a famous museum. All I found there were unhelpful tourists. All I want to do is find a place in Paris that is showing State of Origin III tomorrow afternoon. A task that is proving as impossible as finding a polite Frenchman.
I meet up with my partner in crime/travel partner soon after, underneath a glowing Eiffel Tower. While it is a rather picturesque rendezvous point, it was simply chosen because, well, it?s the easiest place to remember. I hope he has had better luck over the last 3 hours than I have, as we split our efforts to find any kind of sports bar that has decided to show sportings greatest contest. The dejected look on his face tells me he hasn't, and my equally despondent face gives him all the information he needs, and without a word he trod off to the Metro to return to our modest accommodation complete with communal bathrooms and Mexican guests whom we have been warned to 'bar your windows' against.
I honestly thought this would have been an easy task. If I knew I wouldn't be able to watch game three, I would never have come overseas on this trip. Some things are just too important to miss for your own individual pleasures, and State of Origin is one of them. I've done everything I can. Worn my NSW jersey for four days straight hoping to attract the attention of fellow Australians who may know where the game is showing. Pulled aside any English speakers I met hoping they knew what I was talking about. The closest I got to help from anyone was a group of school age kids on a trip yelling 'Queenslander' at me while I sat at a restaurant on the Champs Elysees, and one helpful Englishman whom I asked 'do you know anywhere I can watch the State of Origin?' to which he replied 'yeah, Australia.'
Smartarse. But it was as close as I got to an answer.
So I wake on the morning of July 7, and venture into the city once more, Blues jersey in tow, to hope for an origin miracle to rival Alf's return. I go to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de'Triomphe, the Louvre, every massive tourist attraction I can think, trying to find knowledgeable Australians, but there is nothing. I count down on my watch the seconds to kickoff, I waste hundreds of dollars in mobile calls home for score updates, and get asked by a half dozen fellow Aussies if I know the score of the game, although the big grin pasted over my face probably tells them all they need to know.
It was with bittersweet happiness I sat down to dinner that night with three friends, enjoying the fine French delights of uncooked steak, snails and litre mugs of very strong beer, when one of them said ?Hey, isn?t that football??
With speed even Matt Bowen would be envious of, I was off and in front of that television. Be damned with manners, this is State of Origin!
I looked at the capacity Suncorp Stadium crowd, the blue and maroon jerseys, Ray Warren bellowing ?Minichiello, Hindmarsh, Lockyer?. I was in heaven. Then I notice Steve Price takes a hitup, and think ?gee, he made a quick recovery to be fit for game three?. Then the halfback makes a great tackle, and I realise that the halfback isn?t the mercurial Andrew Johns, but Brett Kimmorley?
It starts to dawn on me. The score is 10-0, but to Queensland. That?s not right, I know it was 32-0 at one stage. Then it clicks.
This is a replay of game one.
Damn the French.
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