Carlton vs. North Melbourne
7.40 PM, 18th of July
Eithad Stadium, Melbourne
I’ll happily go to any football match, no matter who’s playing. For a 17 year old like me, it’s the best place we have to enjoy a Friday night with your mates and have a good time. But let’s face it. Going to a football match and remaining impartial is like going to a prostitute for a pat on the head and a quick hug. It’s just not worth the price you payed for admission. So I decided to blend in with my good mates Locky and Jonah and jump on board the Brent Harvey train for the night, stopping all stations except humility. It was strange. Everyone has that one player that they just don’t like; for me it’s Harvey. I don’t know why. Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t answer it. But I’ll admit that North has some really exciting players on their list. Ben Cunnington and Shaun Atley look like they could lead the next great North charge, Nick dal Santo and Robbie Nahas have been handy pick-ups and Ben Brown has once again proven that I’m a sucker for a cult figure.
It’s a frigid night at Etihad Stadium, the kind of night that makes me greatly thankful of the fact that I’ve grown up in the 21st Century, where our stadiums occasionally come with a roof. Another great 21st Century initiative is multicultural round, a fine creation of the AFL’s to reinforce the fact that this is a sport inclusive of everyone, especially relevant now in the wake of Brian Taylor’s comments. The combination of the late withdrawal of Brown and the ridiculous ineptitude of a ticket agent results in us taking our seats just before the first bounce in a foul mood, which is only compounded by early goals to Blues Jarrad Waite and Lachie Henderson. Carlton controlled the majority of the play, and the nine point deficit at quarter time was flattering to the Roos, after Cunnington cancelled out a brilliant snap by Bryce Gibbs with one of his own.
The second quarter looked more promising for the Roos, but their inability to capitalize on easy chances left them venerable. Dal Santo and Levi Greenwood were fighting valiantly in the centre, but Kade Simpson and Chris Judd were able to stream through with ease. The half-time break clearly brought some inspiration to this horrifically inconsistent side,m which was able to beat the reining premiers just two weeks ago. An increased presence by Majak Daw got the crowd excited, and some good roving by Andrew Swallow led to a Jack Ziebell goal, leaving them just three points shy going into the final break, with Carlton’s intensity the only reason they hadn’t been able to hit the front.
Mitch Robinson and Chris Yarran kept throwing their weight around as the match resumed, and North kept taking the bait. Substitute Ziebell was especially guilty of this, and it reflected in North’s lack of performance, conceding six goals to just three behinds until Greenwood and Lindsay Thomas made the scoreline slightly more respectable, but not enough to hide the inconsistency that this side so constantly suffers from. Carlton taught North how to play their tall forwards all night. Henderson and Waite kicked six and four goals respectively, and Cameron Wood played the game of his career, which has now spanned three clubs for just 65 games. Conversely, Drew Petrie and Aaron Black never looked threatening in the forward line, while Daw did his best work up the ground.
But the great benefit of attending matches with your mates is that the end result doesn’t really matter. The constant banter between the five of us meant we all walked out of Etihad in reasonable spirits, which then soared after repeated interactions with a pair of slightly intoxicated individuals who were incredibly fascinated by Bombers fan Sam, who had chosen to attend the match in a Gold Coast guernsey he won on Facebook. That’s the good thing about impartiality. You can get fully into the match, lose and still walk away with a smile on your face. North fans on the other hand will be left ruing their clubs now-routine inconsistency. Games like this can cost you come finals time. Games like this can cost a coach their job.
CARLTON 4.3 9.7 10.13 16.9 (109)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0 7.4 11.4 13.8 (95)
Goals: Carlton: Henderson 6, Waite 4, Gibbs 2, Wood, Yarran, Graham, Judd
North Melbourne: Thomas 4, Greenwood, Cunnington, Harvey 2, Petrie, dal Santo, Ziebell
Best: Carlton: Henderson, Jamison, Judd, Waite, Gibbs, Simpson
North Melbourne: Greenwood, McDonald, Swallow, dal Santo
Umpires: Schmitt, Pannell, Jeffrey. Crowd: 36, 689
Our Votes: Henderson (CAR) 3, Jamison (CAR) 2, Greenwood (NM) 1