Round 15 – North Melbourne v Richmond: Everything’s clicking (almost)

North Melbourne versus Richmond
2.10pm, Saturday, 6 July
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

I’ve been looking forward to this all week: Saturday arvo footy. (Credit where it’s due – congrats AFL/Ch7 on this wonderful new concept. It just might catch on.)

The morning’s spent with Eloise, Flanagan and the Coodabeens, amidst the whiff of percolated coffee. Chuck in a few jobs around the house to earn my keep and by lunch time I’m on the platform at Coburg under a relaxing winter sun. Aah, this is the life.

Until…

‘Attention passengers. We regret to inform you no further trains will be running today due to signal fault. Please catch the tram on Sydney Road. Have a nice day.’

Have a nice day?!! Faaaaark!!

For the second time this season I’m stranded pre-game by PT. On the way out, I give the woman behind the window my dirtiest look, which if you ask a Year 7 girls class I taught back in the day, is pretty ineffective.

Back in the car, I offer a lift to a stranded father and daughter. Steve’s a Tiger, who works in children’s welfare, while Lillian, a chatty, bubbly Roo, is in grade 4 at Broady PS. This is the one game of the year they attend together.

Off Citylink, we trawl the streets for a park until Lillian gets jack of it and I drop she and her dad off on a corner. Eventually, I find a park outside a tiny, terraced brothel called Mystique. Ironically, with dirty laundry bags piled up outside the front door, it held little.

Closer to Arden St than the Dungeon, I set off with the minutes to game time ticking away, up and down charming, cobbled West Melbourne lane ways and artificial green hills of Docklands.

Just before bounce time, I find my friends – a small pride of Tigers – and we take our seats in the northern end pocket, metres from where Arch spoiled Richo and Wellsy dragged down Rodan in the final minutes of the Jason McCartney game (the greatest sporting event I’ve witnessed).

The Tiger Army is on the prowl and the Dungeon is filling and looking uncharacteristically attractive.

The first term is pretty even. Both midfields play well, putting together slick passages of play. However, neither forward line is functioning and the ball is coming out as quickly as it goes in. North look a little better by the end and lead by 7 points.

Everything clicks in the second. Goldy, Swallow and Jack dominate clearances. Boomer does what he’s been doing for 350 games and Patch and Cunnington, back after a few weeks out after a family accident, smash in. Tarrant and Black are on the end of sweet delivery.

The Tigers are witches hats and North slam on 8 goals in what is a perfect quarter.

We’re 53 points up, but with what’s gone before this season, I’m not ready to claim victory. In contrast, with 30 years of hurt behind them, my companions and the other Tigers around us, have conceded.

Richmond show a bit at the start of the third. But, unlike other occasions this season, North absorb the pressure. Onballers push hard into defence. Thommo, Hansen and Grima, in his best effort for the year, repel and launch attacks. North extend the lead by a goal.

The Army retreat; Northerners sit back and soak it all in.

The sting’s gone by the last and Riewoldt, dragged repeatedly through the carwash by Thommo, gets two in junk time, confirming just how much of a coach killer he is.

Feeling relaxed with the world, I regale my friends with recollections of a fleeting, long ago dalliance with a North cheer squad member. We met at the 96 Premiership reunion. Her name was Tracey*, she was from Frankston** and drank Southern Comfort*** before each game. She was cool. Hardcore. I got dropped for being boring. It wasn’t a career highlight, but as a mate reassured me at the time, ‘It’s a numbers game. Get back out there.’

Final margin 62 points and North have finally produced the four quarter effort threatened all season.

The heavens open on the way to the car, but I don’t care. It’s been a great day.

As Paul Kelly says:

‘I walked two miles in Melbourne rain
I could have walked ten more’

NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 11.6 15.8 19.14 (128)
RICHMOND 2.2 2.7 4.15 8.18 (66)

GOALS
North Melbourne: Tarrant 4; Bastinac 3; Black, Mullett, Harvey, Ziebell 2; Petrie, Greenwood, Cunnington, Gibson.
Richmond: Morris 2, White 2, Riewoldt 2, Ellis, Jackson.

BEST
North Melbourne: team effort
Richmond: Hah – funny!

Umpires: Donlon, Bannister, Margetts

Official crowd: 45,966 at Etihad Stadium

Our votes: Swallow (NM) 3, Ziebell (NM) 2, Goldstein (NM) 1.

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says:

    Andrew, love the line where you’re 53 points up but not willing to claim victory, yet the Tiger fans are conceding defeat. Gold.

    Fantastic gesture in driving the Father and Daughter some of the way to the game. I wonder if they would have taken you up on the offer if you were a Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon or St Kilda supporter? Is there more trust with a Roos fan?

  2. The Jason McCartney game…if they could bottle the emotion from that game, we would be in the top 4.
    That second quarter sounds like one I really would have loved to witness….
    No comment on Tracey*

  3. Andrew Starkie says:

    Luke, wouldn’t have offered a ride to Carlton fans.

Leave a Comment

*