A wee deoch an doris – join in the chorus

In recent years, I’ve started to worry about North Melbourne’s theme song.  It contains a line that reads out we come to play, just for recreation sake to pass the time away.


Just for recreation???


The lyric indicates confidence rather than nonchalance.  And a few lines later, they mention being hard to beat.  But an examination of North’s finals record since their last premiership in 1999 seems to prove that line, about footy being just for recreation.


North’s theme song is based on a traditional Scottish tune called A Wee Doech and Doris.  That song is all about recreation, as the next few lines show.


There’s a good old Scottish custom that has stood the test o’time

It’s a custom that’s been carried out in every land and clime

When brother Scots are gathered, it’s aye the usual thing

Just before we say good night, we fill our cups and sing…


If you’re wondering what the contents of their cups are, imagine filling a premiership cup in the rooms after a grand final.


North has two wins, (against Hawthorn in 2000 and 2007) and eight losses from its last ten finals.  No premiership cups have been filled in 15 years.  That doesn’t mean cups haven’t been filled, because the losses have all been by wide margins as the list below shows.



Club Margin Year
Essendon 125 2000
Melbourne 50 2000
Melbourne 38 2002
Port Adelaide 87 2005
Geelong 106 2007
Port Adelaide 87 2007
Sydney 35 2008
West Coast 96 2012




The average losing margin is 68-points.  It hardly inspires confidence, and North plays Essendon at the weekend in the second elimination final.


As the lyrics of North Melbourne’s theme song suggest, recreation and ability will become important this weekend.


Just a wee deoch an doris, just a wee drop, that’s all

Just a wee deoch an doris afore ye gang awa

There’s a wee wifie waitin in a wee but an ben.
If you can say it’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht
Then yer a’richt ye ken.


Let’s join in the chorus, and examine it.


Deoch an doris – having a farewell drink at the door

but an ben – two room cottage

braw bricht moonlicht nicht – grand bright moonlit night

Yer a’richt ye ken – you’re all right you know


Any club that finishes the year with a 14-8 ledger is all right you know, but history is littered with clubs who were all right and won 14 or 15 games and bombed out in the finals.


Two years ago, North won 14 games and got hammered by West Coast in the elimination (see above table for more info…).


North entered the eight in round four, dropped out after round eight then returned in round nine.  They haven’t slipped out since.  It seems a consistent season, but when eight teams qualify for finals, inconsistency doesn’t always have ramifications.


If you can say it’s a grand bright moonlit night, then you’re all right, you know.


After losing to Geelong by 32-points in round 19, North won their last four games without really beating anyone.


Decent wins against GWS and the Western Bulldogs were expected.  A gritty win over Adelaide in round 22 guaranteed finals.  Against a desperate opponent and down midway through the last quarter, North’s resolve didn’t crumble.


It was the type of game North can’t be trusted to win, because everything, save for the Tasmanian location, was in Adelaide’s favour.


The win gave Brad Scott the luxury of resting players against Melbourne.  North played carefully, letting Melbourne kick their highest score for the year.  Beating the Demons was irrelevant but important.


Resting players gave Scott some tinkering time.  He has taken his whacks, on and off the field as a coach.  Now that North has made the finals, he might be aptly described by two more lines from that traditional Scottish song.


Now I like a man that is a man; a man that’s straight and fair

The kind of man that will and can, in all things do his share


Against the Bulldogs, Ben Cunnington kicked four goals in the last quarter.  A week later against Adelaide, Jack Ziebell kicked four goals.  Last weekend, Kayne Turner kicked four against Melbourne.


Turner has seven goals from the three games he has played.  Cunnington has 41 goals from 95 games.  Ziebell has 52 goals from 96 games.

They are unlikely goal kickers.  It must give Scott confidence in his scoring options.  His midfield manoeuvring may be predictable but Essendon’s coach, Mark Thompson will be wondering who it could be this week.


Thompson would be remembering round one, when Essendon won by 39-points and thinking North is vulnerable under pressure when they’ve got no space and they’re vulnerable to the spread because they concede a lot of uncontested marks.


Essendon have issues though.  Monster forwards usually kick three or four goals against North but Jake Carlisle won’t play because of hamstring issues.


And the Bombers haven’t won a final since 2004.  Since their last premiership in 2000, they have won three finals and lost five.


Three of those losses are listed below.



Club Margin Year
Port Adelaide 39 2003
Adelaide 96 2009
Carlton 62 2011



But if you can say it’s a grand bright moonlit night, then you’re all right, you know.  Just a wee deoch an doris afore ye gang awa…


If you can say you made the finals, then you’re better than ten other teams.


In round five, Essendon dropped out of the eight and didn’t get back in until round 17, when they hammered Collingwood by 64-points.  By round 20, after consecutive losses to Sydney and Richmond, only percentage that kept them in the eight.


Unconvincing wins over the Western Bulldogs (seven points), West Coast (three points) and Gold Coast (19-points) secured a finals berth.


Last week, when they drew with Carlton, Essendon lost three quarters.  An eight goal second term saved them.


Brad Scott must be looking at Essendon and thinking they are playing tired footy.  Scott is wondering if Essendon will have the legs to pressure North all night.  This is a game North should win.  It is a game North can’t be trusted to win.  Is that Scott’s fault?


Och, I like a man a jolly man, the kind of man, you know

The chap that slaps your back and says, Jock, just before ye go…


Just before you go, fill your cups.  The second elimination final could be a tight, gritty match.  The margin could easily blow out to five or six goals.  It could go either way.


Supporters from either side are not approaching this contest with confidence.  Anything better than elimination will be a bonus…

If you can say it’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht
Then yer a’richt, ye ken


Who wants to be all right???


To watch a wee deoch an doris, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6X_3N6pcXBw



About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Best of luck Matt. I will be supporting the Kangas on Saturday night, but my recent record rivals Russ the Roo Rooter. Will he be going on Saturday night?
    I hope not – or does the jinx only apply to Gabba games?

  2. “Brad Scott must be looking at Essendon and thinking they are playing tired footy. Scott is wondering if Essendon will have the legs to pressure North all night. This is a game North should win. It is a game North can’t be trusted to win. Is that Scott’s fault?”

    Couldn’t have put it better. And it will be the main topic of conversation among us Roos fans all offseason if they lose.

    I’m veering wildly between overconfidence and dread on this one.

  3. Hey Peter B,
    Russ is going…
    I hope the curse doesn’t exist in Melbourne.
    Rob C – watch this space.
    Talk about pressure.

  4. Matt,
    I would be intrigued to learn just when the “Hearts to hearts…” prelude was
    reintroduced to the North theme song. I am damn sure that it was not sung
    in the 70’s Barassi era. I reckon it re-emerged in the Carey/Pagan era.
    I am bullish about Saturday night.
    It’s a huge test for Brad Scott. But you are right: it is time that this playing
    group stood up.
    Go Kangas!

Leave a Comment