AFL Round 18 – Melbourne v North Melbourne: A funny thing happened

By Paul Thomson

A funny thing happened when the AFL fixture got announced in late 2012. Melbourne, a side whose home ground is the MCG, got drawn to host North Melbourne at Etihad where Melbourne hasn’t won since 2007. North’s home ground is Etihad, and so one of the many fixturing anomalies occurs. And so, even before the game starts, we are on our way to an inglorious record, a crowd between two Victorian teams that sees the top deck of Etihad closed as a cost-saving gesture.

As a North supporter, I expect that we are used to it. A fortnight earlier, the Roos hosted the GWS Giants for a crowd nearing 15,000 and oddly with the top deck open for patrons. These crowds justify North’s decision to host games in Hobart, by far the club’s best option to date.

Melbourne, on the other hand, were not experiencing the greatest season and the MCG would’ve drawn a bigger crowd as the Demon faithful are creatures of habit and prefer the MCG in droves. This is understandable really, given Melbourne’s recent record at Etihad.

Despite a predicted high of twelve degrees, Etihad Stadium management persist with an open roof policy. Clouds are no guarantee of rain but their optimism is almost farcical. How long have they lived in Melbourne? The siren sounds and within 2 minutes the Demons are on the board through Luke Tapscott, a late Demon inclusion. After three points, the Roos are on the board with a goal thru midfield gun Daniel Wells. The Roos hit quarter time 3.5.23, with subsequent goals to Adams and Bastinac. The Demons haven’t added to their score and the game hasn’t really hit any great heights so far. Maybe both teams are nervous, suffering from the weight of unfulfilled expectations. That’s just a rough guess. It’s not the wind!

Roo-turned-Demon Cam Pedersen started scoring in the 2nd quarter with a rushed behind. Opportunities at North dropped off for Pedo in 2012. I’m probably not surprised he headed elsewhere, after a debut 2011 full of promise. The quarter again fizzes along without much happening. The only highlight is a Daniel Wells scissor-kick in the forward pocket late in the term that rolled through for a goal. Not a bad effort given he was laying on his side. The Demons keep pace through goals to Jack Fitzpatrick and ex-Pie Chris Dawes. The Roos by 25pts at half-time.

The second half started with an unfortunate bang in the form of a rupture to Roo captain Andrew Swallow’s achilles. Ouch! The Doctor Googles on the Radio Commentary team have said that’s a 12-month injury involving extensive rehabilitation. Sorry Captain Obvious, I assume that’s like most 12-month injuries.

This was followed by a more recognisable feature, the run-on, where a side kicks successive goals, often momentum looking for an outlet. Within 20 minutes, the Roos had regrouped and stretched the lead to 62points. Melbourne had managed two points and plenty of mistakes. Ex-Cat Shannon Byrnes kicks a goal for the Demons, but two quick goals by North players Mullett and Goldstein stretched the lead at the last change to 68points. It’s a terrific name is Mullett. It’s a shame he didn’t play in the 80’s or 90’s when the questionable hairstyle was a bit more in fashion.

The last quarter saw Melbourne fail to score. North meanwhile added 8.6 to win by 122 points. The final siren couldn’t come quickly enough for the Demon faithful. We’ve all had those days. It’s part of supporting through thick and thin. Hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing visibility for the Demons.

Melbourne                   1.0         3.2     4.4                   4.4.28

North Melbourne        3.5         6.9       14.12             22.18.150


Melbourne: Tapscott, Dawes, Byrnes, Fitzpatrick

North Melbourne:  Black, Bastinac 4, Wells, Petrie, Cunnington, Goldstein, Adams, Mullett 2, Harvey, Ziebell


Melbourne: N. Jones, McDonald, Sylvia, Gawn, M.Jones, Dunn
North Melbourne: Harvey, Cunnington, Adams, Black, Goldstein, Hansen

Umpires: B1, B2, B3

Official crowd: 17000+/-100

Our Votes: 3 Harvey (NM)- age and size will not define him, 2 Cunnington  (NM) – the captain goes down, the workload steps up,1 Adams (NM) has rediscovered his mojo on field.

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