AFL Round 1 – North Melbourne v Collingwood: A Bogan Weekend

For a while now, my wife has been calling me a snob. In response I have protested vehemently, and pointed to the fact that I am proudly western suburbs born and bred. However, it is true that, of late, I am finding myself being much less tolerant of those to whom I loosely refer as “bogans” and “ferals”. Surely it is just that I am getting less patient as I grow older?

These thoughts spring to mind when my wife and I join the throngs descending on Hanging Rock to pay homage to Springsteen on Easter Saturday. The concert is wonderful, but I am slightly discomfited to find myself surrounded by Jim Beam-swilling bogans, exalting in piling empty can upon empty can, and pissing right next to their picnic blankets. But then, should I be so surprised, given that Jimmy Barnes – one of the great Aussie bogan icons – is Bruce’s support act?

The following afternoon finds me, “Born to Run” still clattering around my head and accompanied by two of my sons, journeying to Etihad. Usually, a Collingwood match instils in me a slight trepidation, bordering on fear; this probably stems from the time I was angrily spat on by a Magpie supporter as I left the MCG – victorious – after the 1979 Qualifying Final (I have a long memory). But the good humour and warmth of the crowd at the Boss’s show has me almost welcoming the prospect of spending a little more of my Easter weekend in the company of bogans. So much so that I am not concerned in the slightest when we seat ourselves among a particularly vocal group of Collingwood fans. The black and white army seem in unusually good spirits, not nearly half as inhospitable as usual. I attribute it to the fact that most of them pity North Melbourne and its third-world-type struggle to balance the books each year.

The match is played at a breakneck pace, with the Sherrin pin-balling around the centre of the ground. Whilst North take a 9-point lead into the first break courtesy of some Lindsay Thomas opportunism, I am concerned that Travis Cloke looks menacing and Harry O’Brien is running riot on his wing. Collingwood begin to take control in the second term, booting five goals to lead by a couple of points at the main break. I am beginning to grow frustrated by North’s poor disposal: turnovers are resulting in the ball being sling-shotted into the Magpie forward line. My frustration has also led to me engaging in some banter with the opposition supporters seated in front of me: I have a habit of venting my spleen when North are playing poorly, much to the disgust of my sons.

Despite being undermanned, Collingwood take control in the third quarter. I am impressed with their quality, depth, and never-say-die attitude. North looks sluggish, and all – with the exception of Andrew Swallow – appear to be waiting for a teammate to take control of the game. I deem the situation irretrievable when Dane Swan, that tattooed idol of the bogan fraternity, marks strongly overhead and then goals. Every time Swan gets the ball – which is often – there is a subtle rise in the pitch of the hubbub of the crowd.

By now, I am irritated but resigned to defeat.

The Kangaroos stage a minor revival in the final quarter, but it is merely an exercise in saving some face. North have squandered an opportunity, as they will surely not again meet a Collingwood team at such a disadvantage personnel-wise. I am disappointed, and have grown hoarse admonishing North’s errors.

“North were terrible,” announced my 16-year-old son Brendan, as we file out of the ground.

“But Dad was even worse,” replies 14-year-old Luke. “Yelling and screaming at the umpire. He was carrying on like a feral.” And suddenly the penny drops. I realise the simplicity of it all. For all my delusions of grandeur, I am comfortable being surrounded by bogans. Because, at heart, I am one. Even though I don’t barrack for Collingwood.


NORTH MELBOURNE  5.2 8.4 9.7 13.9 (87)
COLLINGWOOD             3.5 8.6 12.10 15.13 (103)


North Melbourne:
Thomas 4, Hansen 2, Cunnington, Bastinac, Tarrant, Gibson, Goldstein, Mullett, Petrie
Collingwood: Cloke 4, Sidebottom 3, Lynch 2, Goldsack 2, Pendlebury, Blair, Swan, Macaffer

North Melbourne:
Swallow, Ziebell, Thomas, Atley, Wells, Cunnington
Collingwood: Cloke, Maxwell, Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Swan, Toovey

Umpires: McBurney, Bannister, Foot

Crowd: 41,040 at Etihad Stadium

Marlarkey Votes:

3. Pendlebury (Coll),

2. Swallow (North),

1. Cloke (Coll).


About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Lord Bogan says

    Smokie, don’t you hate those moments of self-awareness? The Boss’ lyrics contain many of those. Many middle-aged male fans are “broken heroes on a last chance power drive”.
    When I heard Beams and Shaw were out I thought North would win easily. Happily, I was wrong.

  2. Andrew Starkie says

    Smokie, you’re right – we missed a great opportunity. We don’t believe.

    Great heart shown by Cwood. Pendels and Swann brilliant.

  3. Great stuff Smokie, loved your bogan self revelation at the end. Have a new appreciation for Andrew Swallow after Sunday’s game, fabulous player.

  4. John Sandy says

    I remember that final in ’79, mum and I sat in the very back row of the southern stand

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