Have a Little Faith

On Sunday Afternoon, I will attend my final home and away game of the 2017 season.

It’s a weird feeling when the football season comes to an end. A real mixture of emotions: mainly panic as I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to do with myself for the six months to come.

2017 has been a strange year for North Melbourne supporters.

The club are on track to record its worst season since 2009: 13th on the ladder, 7 wins and a Dean Laidley resignation with seven games remaining. But even that season had its highlights, none greater than a 5 point win over ladder leaders St Kilda. It was just their second loss of the home and away season. That’s one final siren I won’t forget as long as I live.

With two games to go, North sit 5-15, currently avoiding the wooden spoon because of percentage.

Where do you even begin with the year? I guess it started pretty rough, on the back of an Elimination Final flogging and the departure of five much loved veterans.

We were tipped to tumble down the ladder and we did.

The opening five rounds we’re difficult: three losses by less than a kick. Good Friday was probably the worst; having fought so hard for the main stage and crumbling under pressure in the final term wasn’t quite the result we were after. But it was a sensational game of footy, and despite the result it may have been enough to lock us in again for 2018.

In case that loss wasn’t enough, we did it again in Round 14 and I think this was the worst one of the year, in terms of heart break. Those close to me, specifically my brother, poke fun at my blind optimism and everlasting faith in the club and what we can achieve. Ben Cunnington kicked his first final quarter goal with 10 minutes remaining and I said to my brother “we’re gonna get on a roll here, still in this”. He laughed at my comment but his lingering ‘you’re crazy’ smile quickly turned into one of pride and disbelief. So close, but so far away. Probably should’ve won the game but there isn’t much you can do about it now.

That comeback against the Dogs wasn’t the only good prediction I made this season. I woke up on the first Saturday morning in May and was hit with a weird winning feeling… against an undefeated Adelaide in Hobart. The optimism and the prediction turned into North’s best, most well rounded win of the season.  10 goals to no score in the opening quarter – anyone new to the game would’ve sworn the ladder was the wrong way round. That win was complemented by two victories over an inspired outfit. Forget the ladder positions, forget that the Dees could play their first final series in 11 years… some things never change. That thing being North’s 15 game winning streak against the red and blue that was extended to 16 wins in round nine and 17 wins (and over 4,000 days) in round nineteen. Well played, North.

As for the two results to come? I think we’re a chance to win them both (there’s my blind optimism talking again). But really, why not? The Saints have lost four of the past five games and Brisbane are part of the three club race for last place, so there’s no reason they couldn’t. The question is will they? I’d hope at least one more win for the year but we know better than to have any expectations.

The real test begins as the curtain closes on what has been a rather forgettable season at Arden St.

For the first time in a long time North will potentially pose a major off-field threat to opposition sides and attempt to lure in some of the game’s biggest stars to pave the road towards success.

There are a lot of people who laugh when headlines suggest Josh Kelly and/or Dustin Martin are on their way but (shockingly) there’s actually a lot to like about a future with North- starting with the rumoured paychecks. You’d have to be kidding yourself to not sit down and seriously consider a $1.5 million paycheck every year. I’d also suggest that those laughing haven’t seen much of North play. I can only think of a handful of underwhelming performances this season: Richmond, Sydney, Port Adelaide and Collingwood. That first meeting with St Kilda wasn’t too flash but six final quarter goals and a 17 point margin was a welcomed result. You could then to continue to argue there have been positive signs in the rest: win or loss. With improvement and experience, the wins will come.

Having said that, you’re also probably kidding yourself if you think either is a lock to join the Roos. Yes, there have been encouraging signs, yes we have been introduced to some stars of the future, yes we have had some really spirited wins but there are plenty of teams who would be desirable homes for reasons away from money. If only everyone could see the potential like North fans can.

I like the pre-trade chatter and the over-analysis of every potential trade but I don’t take anything too seriously until it’s a done deal and I would suggest others to do the same. I am sure the club has a plan B for every possible outcome, and maybe some pleasant Marley Williams-like surprises in store.

Right now, let’s talk about what we know.

Although a difficult year, I’m alright. My tip to surviving? Belief. Belief in our club and the future it’s promised.

Surprisingly (or maybe not) I am happier now than I was watching a deflated North Melbourne side walk off Adelaide Oval 11 and a half months ago. We are certainly heading in the right direction.

And now we look on to 2018, where the real challenge begins. We’ve had a year to reset, regroup and now we look to tackle to season ahead.

Grab some optimism, a handful of Shinboner Spirit and don’t forget a little faith.

Comments

  1. john richardson says:

    I agree Marnie. While it has been hard to watch some of the skill errors, apart from the game against Port they never gave up. And these errors can be excused when you have most of the side with only a handful of games under their belt. Some great signs with Simpkin, he has class. I liked Ed Vickers-Willis and Dan Neilsen, they both seemed have poise under pressure (apart from Neilsen’s towelling from Hooker). Garner has something else, and while Clarke’s decision making is not great, he gets a lot of it, and when he trusts himself to kick, he is good. Mountford also has some great signs. Of course Big Benny Brown has been fabulous, emerging from the shadows of Petrie. I thought he might have gone backward, but he has gone in the other direction. Tarrant has continued to develop and should be all Australian, and I think this has been Scotty Thompson’s best season for a while. I’m pleased that Mullett is developing, I had real questions about him, and the pick ups of Hrovat and Williams (although Hrovat was quieter in the second half of the year) have been great, particularly Williams, who I thought was a bit of a dick, he’s been a bargain basement pick up . I am not sure about Atley. Makes rookie errors too often, for a guy with 150 games

  2. There has been a lot of positives Marnie, with new blood coming in. All positive, no doubt. I actually think there may be, as always at all clubs, more changes to the playing list and I expect us to be a major player on the trade talks. Personally, I think Josh Kelly will be at North next year, almost sure. Sometimes trade talk can cause unrest with senior guys. They say they don’t read the trade talk, but of course they do, and it can unsettle their feelings of security.
    There will be player some retirements and some player movement. We do need some speed and class in the midfield, and some strong marking backmen, but this will develop.Jake Lever would be great if he was available.We haven’t really been very consistent and tough this year, to be truthful, but we will be in the future, I am sure. We did make the finals last year, so there has been a fall away that should be examined, and will be. We are a smart club, so we will rebound, I feel confident as you do. Go Roos!

  3. Grant Robertson says:

    Marine, in this world there are three types of supporters: optimists, pessimists and realists. I belong in the third category. I have been frustrated watching so many injuries ruin our plans to introduce some young players into the side and have them blend in with the more experienced players. Losing Sam Wright , Marley Williams and JMac has certainly disrupted the chances of Vickers-Willis and Mitch Hibberd ( both struck down with season-ending injuries) and Daniel Nielson from being a formidable and developing backline. At the same time our forward line has been a week-in/week-out conglomeration. Losing Turner, Waite,Simpkin, Wood, Daw, Wagner to injuries and the poor form ( and suspension) of Lindsay Thomas has meant that we could not seem to get a settled lineup for any length of time.
    I have faith in our young players and back our recruiters to get more talent into our team. I don’t like the prognostications concerning the coaching position beyond 2017. If it is a new coach they should see a great deal of talent that needs developing and a chance to put a game plan into action that brings improvement and results.

  4. Grant Robertson says:

    That’s Marnie not Marine! Spell check blunder!

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