North: Fade Outs a Speciality

North Melbourne versus Adelaide

7.10pm, Saturday, May 15

Etihad Stadium

During three-quarter time I was almost through a banana, and this thought: ‘We can’t lose this game, we cannot poss…’ when I stopped myself, turned to the big bear of a bloke behind and said, ‘You’re still in this, mate.  We never put teams away.’

‘Not a chance, mate,’ Bear replied.  ‘It’s how far North.’

And the Crows were not a chance.  And it should have been how far North.  We led by 54 points and were dominating all over the ground.

Niece Ellie predicted a 100 point margin.  Nephew Lukey had waved his Kangaroo flag so hard, it had twisted into a tight knot.

And yet, with North, I’m never too confident of victory.  I’m always uncertain, worried.  A fear emerges after two quick opposition goals cut into our comfortable lead.  It’s a fear that dates from the ’98 GF.  That haunting, nightmarish day that shall never be spoken of.  That day when Adelaide… Stop!

Breathe.

Ok.

Since that never to be spoken of day, I’ve always feared the North fade, capitulation, defeat from the jaws of victory. Or even games in which we fall across the line after a percentage booster has beckoned at half-time.  When we take our clichéd foot off the pedal or the throat.

North always have a bad percentage.  This is because we never put teams away.  We have no killer instinct.  No mongrel.

For three quarters, North were better than they have been so far this season.  And last season.  Goldstein, our lone ruck after Hamish pulled out prior and Hale limped off early, was doing his best Nick Nat, with second and third efforts that offered the playground image of the Grade 6 boy versus the preps.  Boomer was running, bouncing, and kicking goals.  Swallow was clearing, tackling and kicking goals.  Wells was gliding, linking.  Bastinac and Garlett were everywhere; Greenwood, hard at it.  Even Edwards was kicking a few.

We kicked seven unanswered goals from late in the first term to halfway through the third.  We could not lose.

For three quarters, Adelaide were deplorable.  The Bear had spent the night yelling, ‘Too soft Adelaide!’; ‘Too indirect!’; ‘Shit skills, Crows!’; ‘Too slow!’; ‘Noooo!’ He blamed the umpires for a while, but gave up on the futility of that.

This game was done and dusted.  Or should have been.

We settled in for the last quarter with Bear questioning the coach’s future.

Things changed suddenly, decisively, yet not totally unpredictably.  The Crows were clearing; bullocking; running; hey, they were even playing direct, long into the forward line footy.

Crows who hadn’t had a sniff all night but were thinking of their spots for next week, came into it.  Maric, the big lug, flogged earlier by Goldy, was his own one man band:  marking, baulking, linking.  Yes, I said baulking.  Walker, who had kicked one by accident in the third and celebrated like 400 metre runner, John Steffensen, kicked a couple more and carried on like an even bigger pork chop.  Porplyzia had been disinterested all night.  The ball dropped in his hands and he kicked two.

Meanwhile, North were stuffed.  Goldy ran out of puff and Ziebell could barely jog off for a rest.  It would have been better to leave him out there instead of asking him to cover 100 metres to the bench.  We turned it over constantly and everywhere North were gasping for air or had hands on knees.

Bear was full of voice, as was his son who accidentally clouted me with his flag.  Sister Anne and the kids had headed home early to beat the traffic and I was feeling somewhat abandoned, bruised and a bit shaky.

It was seven goals to zip for the last term.  Thankfully, the siren found the Crows 9 points short.

We had survived another North fade.  Unlike that day in ’98 we never speak of.

NORTH MELBOURNE 4.3 8.6 12.11 12.12 (84)

ADELAIDE 2.3 2.4   4.5   11.9   (75)

GOALS

North Melbourne: Harvey 3; Edwards, Swallow, Harding 2; Wells, Thomas, Goldstein.

Adelaide: Walker 3; Porplyzia 2; McLeod, Vince, Petrenko, Tippett, Cook, Stevens.

BEST

North Melbourne: Goldstein, Swallow, Harvey, Rawlings, Wells, Bastinac.

Adelaide: No one until the last quarter; Armstrong, Bock, Douglas, Goodwin.

Crowd: 16,479 at Etihad Stadium.

The Jason Daniltchenko Award

3 – Goldstein

2 – Swallow

1 – Harvey

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