AFL Round 13: North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: I’m not disappointed because I don’t expect to win

By Josh Barnstable

Waking up early, I get that feeling that my fellow country kids may get when you wake up on the morning of going to an AFL match, whether you’re seeing your team play or just two neutral clubs battle it out.
Anyway it’s 7.30 and I’m up, which is unusual on a Sunday morning. I decide not to don the North Melbourne guernsey, as it does not fit me anymore. So I rug up in a jumper, jeans and a Kangaroos cap. Dad and I drive to Waaia and meet up with our mates from the footy club, jump on the bus and we set off on a 3-hour drive to Melbourne.
As I try and get comfortable in my seat (unsuccessful), I read the Sunday papers. After an hour of reading, I pull out the old, trustworthy iPod and listen to some tunes.
Before long we’re approaching Melbourne. Sure, you can see the buildings and landmarks of the city but that means another 10 minutes or so of traveling so I never get my hopes up that we’re almost there. I see Etihad Stadium. It always looks magical, day or night. Finally we approach the MCG. We park our bangin’ bus among the other 40 buses. We walk, we talk, and we anticipate. I anticipate a heavy loss. I always do that. I don’t expect a win, but it’s a huge shock if we do get the 4 points — and it’s a lot easier to swallow when the final siren sounds and we’re behind.

Dad and I decide to go away from the main group who are seated on the wing. We go to the North Melbourne cheersquad, but before that we sit and watch on the TV the remarkable game between these two teams from Round 9, 2008 where Brad Johnson missed that shot to win the game. It was a great game to watch, and hopefully we get a result like that today, regardless whether it’s a North win or a loss.
North Melbourne run out on the ground behind skipper Brent Harvey, back for his first match since Round 5 after dislocating his elbow. He is wearing an elbow guard that sticks out like a broken finger. Liam Anthony is playing his first match of AFL after being named in the Round 1 team before succumbing to stress fractures in his foot. Hopefully this blond bombshell, who the North Melbourne boys call Hollywood, can prove to be as damaging as his blond counterpart, Jack Ziebell, who broke his leg last round.
The Dogs are celebrating the milestones of Mitch Hahn and Dale Morris. We hear a massive cheer and both teams are doing their warm-ups. The cheer is about James Brayshaw though. He has arrived! He takes his seat in the North Melbourne cheersquad as he tries to replicate what Melbourne and Jim Stynes already do.

The first quarter starts and Cruize Garlett marks outside 50. He goes back and looks like he’s gonna have a shot from the centre square. Surely not, I say. He roosts a huge kick to the goalsquare and it’s through! What a way to kick your first goal in AFL. The Dogs take it up the other end and kick goals through Shaun Higgins and Callan Ward before Andrew Swallow snaps a goal from a pack but there’s bad news for North: Ben Warren’s hobbling off the field with a sore leg. Turns out it’s a broken fibula. That poor boy can’t get any luck.
Soon play is stopped again after Daniel Pratt comes off the field with a broken nose. North are the bloody and the bruised early. Two goals to Drew Petrie before Daniel Cross and Jason Akermanis get among the goals thanks to some blunders by North to take the Dogs to a 9 point lead at quarter time, 6.1 to 4.4.
Dad and I go over to meet Brayshaw. Dad tells him about me writing for the Almanac and about my radio job. Brayshaw says it’s very good and asks if I would like an autograph, not even looking up at me. He autographs my hat and we leave him, seeing he is so busy.

The second quarter starts and the Dogs get the opening two through Scott Welsh and then Mitch Hahn before the Roos answered back through Petrie, Leigh Harding, Hamish McIntosh and others and some good midfield work from Harvey, Ben Ross and Swallow saw the Roos back within a few points at the main change, 8.8 to 9.4.

The second half started and the third quarter saw the Roos start to take advantage. The Dogs are making mistakes and the Roos are capitalizing. A brilliant snap from Corey Jones on his opposite foot, a goal to Lachlan Hansen and a snap from Harding from the goalsquare sees the Roos hit the front. Some late goals and a huge mark in the goalsquare to Josh Hill followed by a goal sees the Dogs regain the lead at three quarter time, 13.6 to 11.13. Anthony had a huge 12 touches for the quarter while Harvey continued to be dangerous, a kick from the boundary line almost rolling through for an amazing goal before hitting the post. The Dogs seemed to have a Mr. Fix-it-Man, Scott Welsh, who was marking up forward and kicking goals then marking down back and stopping goals.

The final quarter starts and I realize that North are a chance. Big mistake, I should never think that. Goals to Daniel Giansiracusa and one to Hill and the Doggies supporters in front of us are celebrating annoyingly. I could have killed the kid behind me, kicking my chair continually and clapping his clapper. Those should be banned from the footy. So should young kids. Later he is crying hysterically over losing a tooth after falling over.
The same thing seemed to happen to North; they fell when it mattered, lost their hunger and teeth, and made too many mistakes that bring regret, something the little kid would do soon if he kept it up.
A late mark and goal to David Hale sees the Bronx cheers running around the MCG. Darren Crocker’s first match in charge of these dangerously talented young men has been a success of sorts. I say dangerously talented because they are very talented but make too many dangerous mistakes near goal and handball too much in the midfield. They can’t all be like Gary Ablett.
North seemed to shake that annoying game-style that they played to under Dean Laidley, the game-style that included kicking backwards and not penetrating the 50.
As we board the bus to return home, we stop at Maccas for a feed along with 5 of the other buses from the ground. As we get back on full of big macs, cheeseburgers and chips, the coach does a head count: “…47, 48 … ah, close enough. Let’s go!”

North Melbourne 4.4—8.8—11.13—12.14.86
Western Bulldogs 6.1—9.4—13.6—17.6.108


North Melbourne-Harding 3, Petrie 3, Hansen, Swallow, Garlett, Hale, Jones, McIntosh

Western Bulldogs-Giansiracusa 3, Welsh 2, Akermanis 2, Hill 2, Higgins 2, Eagleton 2, Ward, Gilbee, Hahn, Cross


North Melbourne-Gibson, Harvey, Anthony, Petrie, Harding, Swallow, McIntosh, Ross

Western Bulldogs-Giansiracusa, Welsh, Boyd, Hargrave, Higgins, Lake, Cross, Murphy


31,470 at the MCG


Daniel Giansiracusa (WB) 3, Josh Gibson (NM) 2, Scott Welsh (WB) 1.


  1. Great piece of writing.
    What is your opinion on David Hale? I reckon he has been out of form for the Roos four about four weeks.

  2. Thanks.
    Haley is due for a big game and he will have his breakout game for the season soon. I can feel it. But in three weeks time and he’s still kicking just the one goal a match and not crashing packs taking big marks, I would give him time in the two’s and bring in Aaron Edwards or blood Michael Wundke to take the Full Forward spot. Or even give Hale a run in the ruck and put McIntosh down in the goalsquare.

  3. danielle says

    AWWW come on Josh!
    Little kids aren’t that bad.
    I think they look adorable in their oversized jerseys!
    I’ve noticed most of the North boys have blond hair.
    Is that to makeup for the terrible away game jersey?

  4. Sure little kids are cute but the ones that nag, cry and argue right in your ear at the footy are annoying!
    North don’t have that many blond’s. Ziebell, Harris, Warren and Anthony stand out the most but at least there good players.
    I think the away jersey for North is one of the best in the league actually, it looks very good in my opinion. But i think the best away jersey award should go to Collingwood, the Black on White looks very old-style and reminiscent of the 20th century Magpie jumper.

  5. danielle says

    Don’t forget Swallow, he’s my favourite!
    Really? i don’t like our away makes the players look fat..and i really hate when they wear the white shorts.. Shorts are getting bigger which leads to more dacking. i think the shorts should be a bit shorter and not as basketbally.

  6. Maybe they wouldn’t look fat if they got proper sized jumpers! Next time your talking to Heath Shaw, tell him that Collingwood jumpers also come in adult size, not kiddie size that he wears.

  7. danielle says

    someone’s been watching before the game!
    Im pretty sure i heard Dave Hughes say that before!
    i like the tight jumper! Heath is the only player that it doesnt look good on!

  8. I may have stolen that off Hughesy but it’s definatly true!
    Next thing Alan Toovey will be wearing kiddie sized jumpers.

  9. danielle says

    no, Toovey will be more likely to waer it insideout!

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