AFL Round 18: No fairytale for Simpson as Blues edge closer to finals

By Damian Watson

“What A big week it has been in football!”

That Eddie McGuire catch cry was heard almost every week on The Footy Show and it is the perfect way to describe this previous week. The past seven days have provided the most off-field news so far this year beginning with the end of the Nathan Buckley coaching saga with a predictable result returning to his cherished Collingwood Football Club as Assistant Coach. In the shock story of the week NRL star Karmichael Hunt announced he would be switching codes to play for the new Gold Coast team but the main story concerning tonight’s game is the retirement of dual North Melbourne Premiership champion Adam Simpson.

For me it is a busy night as I slog it out at footy training and then complete another time consuming History essay on the fight for Indigenous land rights, before settling onto the couch for Friday Night Football. Speaking of the Indigenous I notice both Matthew Campbell and Lindsay Thomas looking fit and raring to go in the forward line which worries me considering the amount of damage they have given to the Blues in recent years. The cameras are focused on the man in the spotlight Adam Simpson who received painkilling injections a’ la Mick McGuane just minutes before the bounce and can barely walk in the rooms. This game also provides a great amount of significance for the Carlton side as a win could just about secure a finals spot, interestingly Nick Stevens is back in the side after claims of weight problems and I am confident he can produce a good performance.

As I get stuck into the M&M’s the siren sounds and unfortunately the Blues are picking up where they left off the previous week as they continue to become wasteful with their disposal, turning it over constantly by hand and foot.  Lindsay Thomas started to make an impact early just as I predicted and kicked the opening goal of the match. The Roos signalled their intentions early with Liam Anthony and Brent Harvey picking up plenty of disposals and with young Levi Greenwood shutting down the prominent Chris Judd and I am beginning to think that this isn’t our night. Suddenly I pull out a Blue M&M from the packet and just as I swallow it Bryce Gibbs takes a ripping mark in amongst three Roos and converts the set shot. Maybe these Blue M&M’s are a source for good luck; after all we did win that infamous 1997 match against Adelaide wearing the Light Blue Guernseys. The Roos however continue their good form with Hamish McIntosh making Matthew Kreuzer’s ruckwork look second rate and Drew Petrie capitalized on another stupid Carlton mistake to give the Roos the lead and momentum.

I am fearing that the Roos will start to run away so I look inside the packet but there are no Blue M&M’s left! Luckily I have another solution in place. I switch the channel over to SBS to watch the Third Test at Edgbaston and staring at the Sky Sports info bar for a couple of overs which of course is predominantly light blue. Nothing constructive is happening for the Aussies so I switch back to Channel 7 to find the Blues drawing level in the shadows of Quarter Time, not a bad result considering the Roos had the momentum. As the siren blares to signal the first break both sides are 22 apiece and the game is evenly poised.

The Big Irishman Setanta O’hAilpan kicked off the second term with a goal that appeared to bounce off his shin but the goal umpire received the all clear and the Blues appeared to be in control. The North Melbourne side had other ideas and their determination to make Simpson’s last hurrah a memorable one showed in the second term with both Lindsay Thomas and Leigh Harding looking dangerous up forward and converting. At one stage the Roos led by 17 points and the Blues looked to be in trouble all over the ground especially with the loss of one key defender in Bret Thornton. Just as I contemplated switching back to the cricket I start to cough and sneeze and as I reach for the tissue I realize the box is colored in light blue!  The Gods are certainly smiling today.

As I return to the Living Room with tissue in hand the cameras show the dangerous Leigh Harding gingerly exiting the field with a hamstring injury, light blue is starting to become my favorite colour.

Brendan Fevola who had a frustrating opening half an hour on Scott Thompson, finally broke the shackles to score what Denis Cometti described as a ‘Buddy goal’. The Roos still held an eleven point lead but with Fev’s first major and the Blues just starting to gain a few more touches, I felt that the Blues were still a red hot chance.

With an animated midfield coach Mark Riley pumping the boys up and Brett Ratten swinging some dramatic changes the Blues eventually lifted in what is described in some circles as the ‘Premiership Quarter’. The Roos had the better of the opening five minutes of the term with Drew Petrie having a purple patch taking a strong mark against young defender Austin and converting. Petrie continued the good form setting up a Brent Harvey goal just minutes later. To Carlton’s credit they answered quickly and efficiently. Chris Judd moved into the forward line and took his opponent with him and instantly made an impact, Bret Thornton did likewise pushing back into the full forward position. The Carlton midfielders started to lift with Marc Murphy booting another close range goal while his fellow centre man Bryce Gibbs kicked a ripper from an impossible angle to place the Blues back in the game. Carlton continued to lift the tempo and as a result piled on the goals to hit the lead by the last change. It was great to see Nick Stevens back to his best picking up plenty of disposals and delivering effectively while speedy midfielders Kade Simpson and Denis Armfield successfully burnt off the opposition, the latter too quick for Matt Campbell on two consecutive occasions. I am preparing myself for another nail biter as the Blues take a 3 point lead into the final change.

There are two things that annoyed me in the Final term, the first is my mother’s constant gasping every time North made a foray forward and secondly was our inability to blow the Roos away. It was a sloppy finale to a tight game and for the first half of the quarter North kicked behind after behind reminiscent of Arnold Breidis in the 77′ Grand Final. Finally the drought became broken Bret Thornton’s second goal for the game and fourth in his career ended up sealing the game as I let out a sigh of relief. North Melbourne ended the quarter with nine behinds from very gettable positions on the field throwing away the four points. Adam Simpson managed to gallop through the final five minutes however his presence was not enough with North going down by 10 points. It was such a tense final quarter I forgot all about the good fortune I seem to share with the light blue colour.

The sight of both sides forming a guard of honour for Adam Simpson is a fitting tribute to a great stalwart for the Kangaroos and a reminder of what makes this game of ours so great. Carlton on the other hand could just about look forward to their first finals appearance since 2001 and there is no way I would miss it for the world!

North Melbourne    3.4    7.9    11.9    11.18 (84)
Carlton                    3.4    6.4    12.7    14.10 (94)

North Melbourne: Thomas 4 Harding 2 Petrie 2 Harvey McIntosh Swallow
Carlton: Murphy 4 Fevola 3 Gibbs 2 Stevens 2 Thornton 2 O’hAilpin

Crowd: 38,554 at Docklands

My Votes:   3. M. Murphy     2.B.Gibbs          1.B.Harvey

About Damian Watson

Hey,my name is Damian Watson and I am 14 years old. My ambition is to become an AFL broadcaster/journalist in the future. I am a keen blues supporter and I live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I play and write for the Knox Falcons U/16's.


  1. Josh Barnstable says

    Thornton is my new worst player for Carlton. Who in their right mind would kick half of their career goals against North Melbourne??

  2. Steve Healy says

    Gee Josh that last quarter must’ve been hell for you.

    Damian I had a similiar histroy essay earlier in the year. Mark Riley seems to be doing a better job at Carlton than he did at Melbourne.

  3. Josh: notice Swallows hair is darker and Superman has gone lighter?
    i think those two are hairdresser buddies!!

  4. Josh Barnstable says

    Interesting to note that two quarters have been played so far this weekend with 9 behinds scored. North kicked 0.9 in the last quarter while Collingwood booted 3.9 earlier, with Presti kicking 2 of those behinds! I was so cheering him on to kick a goal.

  5. Josh Barnstable says

    I didn’t notice Swallow’s hair but i did see Anthony’s. Haha he looks like a ranga now lol.

  6. Steve Healy says

    I was at Collingwood V Brisbane and the cheering for Presti was ridiculous, and his two kicks at goal were terrible haha. Anthony’s hair now looks similiar to Jesse White’s hair.

  7. naww just like your KITTY!!
    just as cute i might add!
    i dont mind the colour and ive come the the conclusion that i want his glove!!!

  8. Josh Barnstable says

    I like Jesse White’s hair. It’s very unique. Presti’s first shot from near the boundary looked good on TV but it faded late.

    Maybe i should call my kitty superman? Haha. Writing the report of the match is gonna be hard with your views Danielle. Have you wrote one of the North-Carlton game yet?

  9. Yes i have, i kept it simple and all i had to do was add a few lines here and there about what i thought you would be thinking.
    i was also sure to mention the fact that you would tell me to shut up about the goodlooking players and concentrate on the ugly ones!

    Superman is a cute name for a kitty…but i thought your kitty was a girl.. Superkitty???


  10. Steve Healy says

    Come on, name your kitty after a real ranga, Matthew Bate.


  12. Steve Healy says

    Ok maybe “Batey” or “Bater” then.

  13. Josh Barnstable says

    I look forward to reading it lol

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