AFL Round 6 – North Melbourne v Melbourne: Roos are in the mix

by Andrew Starkie

North Melbourne versus Melbourne

2.10pm, Saturday, May 1

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

It’s amazing what a few wins can do.  I’m standing on the platform at Reservoir station and for once I’m not the lone Kangaroo.  There are three family groups in royal blue and white.  A mother is shoving a scarf into a Brent Harvey bag and further up the platform, a father and son are enjoying kick to kick.

What’s even more incredible is a few Demons are here.  Never before have I seen a Melbourne supporter on this platform.  Ever.  Maybe they took a wrong right hand turn up St. George’s Road on their way from Camberwell to the Docklands.  I hope they’ve put the steering lock on.  The Demons are going for four in a row and the bandwagon is filling with Melbourne supporters hoping for a late start to the ski season.

The train fills with more Demons with each stop.  What’s interesting is that some don’t match the eastern suburban private school stereotype.  There’s the dreadlocked bloke in a Robbie Flower jumper, and another wearing a grandmother knitted scarf resembles a guitarist from a Sydney Road pub band.

I’m chatting with Jordan, a Roo who’s a bit under the weather.  He and his mate kicked on from the Bulldogs and Saints game last night. Jordan and I are happy for the Demons to have success – the AFL needs a competitive MFC.  We just don’t want their winning form to continue today.

Alighting at Southern Cross, the walkway to Etihad is sun soaked, full of supporters of both teams and the merchandise tents are busy.

Cousin Elise has wangled a handful of Medallion Club tickets and a gang of relatives gathers on the flank, directly under Brad Scott’s nose.  Uncle Allan, he who is responsible for the lot of us following North, is here.  He and I comment on how long it’s been since we attended a game together and spot Blighty on the boundary doing a pre-match TV cross.  We reminisce and sigh wistfully.

The roof’s open and the sun’s shining.  Let’s get this game going.

The Demons’ first half is a recall of 2009.  Despite kicking the opener through Green, they look flat from the start.  They’re indirect and their skills are poor.  They lack run and purpose.

North’s aggression at the ball and man are much better.  We’re winning the clearances and our play is relatively more direct.  Two of our first quarter goals come from long kicks into the forward line.  The other is a result of determined forward line pressure.

We dominate the second quarter.  Wells, Anthony and Harvey break the congestion with piercing runs and Hale and Wright kick two each before half-time.  Thompson and Firrito dominate in defence.  We lead by 34 points, but due to poor kicking, should be further ahead.

The old lady behind me does fit the Demon stereotype.  She spends much of the first half referring to her players as, shocking, so shocking.  I turn around to have a look and she’s doing a fairly decent Cybil Fawlty impersonation.

During the break, I catch up with Laura, a Demon, colleague and friend.  A music teacher, she’s the owner of the best singing voice in the northern suburbs.  Partnering Laura at Karaoke at last year’s Christmas party is an honour I didn’t deserve.

Laura is crestfallen.  Just like last year, she sighs.  My assurance that all is not lost as North have rarely in my life managed to put teams away, not even during the golden years, does little to add balm to her pain.

We kick the first two goals after the resumption, including a regulation run-around-the-guy-on-the-mark effort from Boomer, and it seems I have underrated my team’s abilities.  A percentage booster is on the cards.

But the Demons of 2010 are better than that.  They start to win clearances and play with slick and direct ball movement.  Grimes, McDonald and Davey push them forward and Melbourne kick six unanswered goals, including three from Green and a nice snap from Sylvia.  North are tired and when Ziebell and Hansen collide, leaving both flattened, things look dodgy.  The margin is14 points at three-quarter time.  The woman behind has shut up and Uncle Allan and I exchange a worried glance.  My words to Laura now seem rather prophetic.  It’s game on.

Firrito does his best Dermie by getting intimate with the Demon huddle.  Our boys are too stuffed or more interested in the oranges to lend a hand.  Spud escapes without too many scratches.

North parry early final quarter pressure and goals to Anthony and Wells douse Melbourne’s fire.  Hansen is back and marks strongly.  Wells sets up McIntosh, the big man converts and it’s game over.  We kick five goals to three and ease away to a 26 point win.

As the club theme song bounces off the stadium walls and the players fan out to deliver DVDs (Uncle Allan wants to know what’s happened to the little footies) to excited young Kangaroos, I consider our season so far.  If the footy gods had offered three and three after six rounds, I would’ve taken it in a heartbeat.  Particularly considering the 100 point loss to the Saints was only four rounds ago and Petrie hasn’t played yet.

We’re in the mix; don’t worry about that.

NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 8.7 10.12 15.14 (104)

MELBOURNE 2.1 3.3 9.4 12.6 (78)


North Melbourne: Hale, Wright 3; Wells, Anthony 2; Swallow, Harvey, Warren, McIntosh, Goldstein.

Melbourne: Green 4; Petterd 2; Bartram, Sylvia, Trengove, Dunn, Bate, Jamar.


North Melbourne: Wells, Anthony, Thompson, Firrito, Wright.

Melbourne: Green, Grimes, McDonald, Davey.

CROWD 26,763 at Etihad Stadium.

The Jason Daniltchenko Award

3 – Wells

2 – Anthony

1 – Thompson

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