AFL Round 18: North are the better team despite the result

Josh Barnstable

“Do some work, Josh,” orders my substitute science teacher.

“Nah,” is my reply.

Who can work on plastics and metals when you’re going to the AFL? Not me for sure.

Finally the bell rings. As my classmates walk to English for period 6, I walk to the front office and out the door with my Dad. I quickly get changed out of my school uniform and into my much warmer “city” clothes. And we’re off to Seymour, a short hour’s drive away.

As it nears 4 o’clock, we arrive in Seymour with an hour to spare while we wait for our train to arrive. It’s the first time I’ll be travelling on a train that I can remember. I go and sit on a seat while Dad buys himself a coffee; I wait anxiously for a call from the ABC to do my radio program with Crackers Keenan. Finally, at 4:53, my phone starts vibrating. I answer it and I finish my program as I board the train. I pick North Melbourne, knowing they will get over the line for Adam Simpson. If ever they need to show the Shinboner Spirit, it’s tonight.

We take our seats, and I’m made uncomfortable by a weird-looking drunk sitting across from me, continually staring at me. He starts eating a sandwich, and the remains of it stay on his lips and chin for the entire trip. He also takes an occasional swig of his beer. I text my friend, who is in the next carriage; we pick on the announcer’s funny voice which sounds a lot like Manny of Ice Age.

The train pulls into Spencer Street station, Dad and I venture towards Etihad Stadium. We show our member’s tickets and are told that we need to sit in Level 3. I’m a little disappointed, as I like to sit behind the goals in the first level and get a good look at what’s going on. I squint to see the big screen; it’s so small compared to the MCG’s. As Simpson runs out for the Roos, I clap hard, as do the rest of us, even the Carlton supporters. I have a feeling that we’re on tonight.

The first quarter begins and within the first 20 seconds Nick Stevens has a shot on goal but misses. Corey Jones misses up the other end but Lindsay Thomas marks and kicks the first. Scott Thompson tussles with Brendan Fevola. Fev whacks Thompson’s arm away each time, and gives away a free kick for elbowing Thompson in the face. We all yell out to Fevola as he is dragged from the field, but I can’t help but think back to Round 15 when Fevola had a shocking first quarter but ended up with nine goals. Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs goal for the Blues but the Roos hit back to draw scores level at quarter time, 3.4 each.

Dad and I go back down to the first level and grab some seats behind the Carlton cheer squad. The second quarter begins and Setanta O’hAilpin gets his boot to the ball to kick a lucky goal for the Blues but the Roos fire back, with goals to Leigh Harding and Hamish McIntosh. Simpson provides a highlight, with a kick out of mid air in the forward pocket finding Thomas, who snaps a goal. The crowd jump to their feet as the Roos lead by 16 points. The Blues bite back with Fevola getting on the board, and trail by 11 points at half-time, 7.9 to 6.4. I notice a lot of the Carlton supporters look the same; Italian, short hair, facial piercings and stylish shoes.

The second half starts and the Blues start well. Fevola finds his range, booting two goals while Murphy provides drive through the midfield and also gets among the goals. Bret Thornton, who hasn’t kicked a goal since Round 6, 2007 (that’s my estimate), marks 50m out and goals as the Blues take the lead and run away with it.

The Roos battle away, though, with goals to Andrew Swallow and Thomas seeing the margin cut to 4 points at three-quarter time, 11.9 to 12.7. A rowdy North Melbourne supporter sitting in front of us has his own party trick whenever North gets a goal or a free kick; he bends over and shows the Carlton cheer squad his hairy behind. It really irks the Blues’ fans, but it’s a bit of a laugh for North fans. I am a tiny bit worried about a fight, though, so I put Etihad’s emergency number into my phone, just in case.

The final quarter starts and I’m a bundle of nerves. My leg starts shaking and doesn’t seem to stop until the final siren. The Blues goal through Murphy early. I put a mortgage on the house as I plan to get a pie, and while I’m gone Dad informs me that McIntosh missed a relatively easy shot on goal. Then Todd Goldstein misses. Lachie Hansen kicks out on the full. Jones’ snap bounces on the goal line before bouncing into the post. Daniel Pratt misses. Petrie misses. Thomas gains his first blemish on his scoresheet. I start to think North are tanking. Who would tank in the club’s favourite son’s last match?

Thornton puts the result out of question with a clever goal on the line. Bloody Thornton. He’s hardly kicked a goal on his career, and he picks tonight to boot two and be a factor. The siren sounds as Petrie kicks forward. It would have resulted in a behind anyway. The Blues win by 10 points, 14.10 (94) to 11.18 (84).

Despite the devastating loss, I think North were the better team on the night and showed a lot of promise. Levi Greenwood restricted Chris Judd, Liam Anthony racked up the most touches on the ground, Brent Harvey continued his fine form, Thomas was a target up forward, Goldstein provided another option up forward in the absence of David Hale and young Thompson proved  he can be one of the most annoying full-backs in the competition.

As Dad and I board the train to go home, a Carlton couple sits opposite us. The woman’s Carlton flag keeps falling and hitting me. I wait an hour, and grab some vacant seats with no one near me, and I somehow sleep into the night while sitting upright.

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, Petrie 2, Harding 2, Swallow, McIntosh, Harvey
Carlton-Murphy 4, Fevola 3, Stevens 2, Gibbs 2 Thornton 2, O’hAilpin

North Melbourne-Anthony, Thompson, Harvey, Simpson, Thomas, Greenwood, Petrie, McIntosh
Carlton-Murphy, Stevens, Gibbs, Thornton, Austin, Armfield

Crowd: 38,554 at Etihad Stadium

Votes: 3: Marc Murphy (CARL), 2: Liam Anthony (NM), 1: Scott Thompson (NM).


  1. Steve Healy says

    Good work Josh,

    How long does that train ride take?

    I know what you mean about Carlton supporters. They are all Italian with short hair and piercings. And the odd red head here and there (in honour of Lance Whitnall of course).

  2. Josh Barnstable says

    Thanks Steve

    The train ride took about an hour and a half but it was certainly better than paying for parking at Etihad and then having trouble finding the car afterwards.

    I wonder if Damo has short hair with piercings? Haha joking Damo! :)

  3. the term i use for Carlton supporting teenagers is ‘Muzza’


  4. Josh Barnstable says

    Is there an explanation for that Danielle? Haha

  5. Damian Watson says

    Just because I am Italian Carlton supporter doesn’t mean I am a muzza!
    And I certainly don’t have any piercings!!!!!!

    But I know what you mean.

  6. theres nothing wrong with Muzzas!!
    infact i like Muzzas..not the attitude, just the look. my friend calls them ‘Window boys’ b/c she wants to throw them out the window, she hates them!

  7. what do you mean Josh?
    why do i need an explanation??

  8. Josh Barnstable says

    Well i’ve never heard of a “Muzza”. Is it what everyone calls them or just you? If just you, what made you come up with that name? Lol

  9. for those who dont know what a MUZZA is:
    A muzza is a young male, usually of southern European decent (even though they’ve never been there), that are born and raised Melbournians. Living in middle-class western and northern suburbs they are depicted by their cars..
    Usually canary yellow VL turbos (often built by the Rajabs), VN 5 litre’s, VQ Statesmans or the R33 Skyline..

    Baseball caps are constantly worn alongside hair product, but to make sure they dont wreck their hair the caps sit on top of their hair (and away from the fringe). Bum-bags are a must to hold all your mobile phones (one for the bros, and one for the hoes), and also some change to spend at maccas.

    They walk like they’re trying to immitate a scarecrow, or like they’re holding a bucket of water in each hand (with a subtle swaying motion) This is often a result of going to the gym once or twice and thinking your lats are so huge you cant put your arms straight down your side.

    As soon as there’s any drizzle outside muzzas call all their bros and go do some demos in your cars.. ripping it up in the wet is considered “free demos” because it doesnt bald your tires as much.

    Muzzas are often highschool dropouts currently doing apprentiships, with every cent they earn going towards their cars (mostly on tires and petrol), and they end up wondering why all their bros who went to uni end up driving mercs and picking up chicks.Common hangouts are Bell St maccas, or any other Hungry Jacks 24hour store carpark, but the most common place (which is guarenteed to give you some pure muzzas) has got to be Chapel Street on Friday and Saturday nights. Doing constant and repetitious laps of this popular shopping strip is a must, and ensures many hours of sitting in traffic at 3am on a Saturday morning.

    hope that clears it up. :)
    have you seen one yet??

  10. Josh Barnstable says

    Thanks Danielle lol

  11. Josh, check out the comment i left on the
    Third test Day three entry..LOL

  12. Josh Barnstable says

    I just did haha

  13. Steve Healy says

    How do you know all that Danielle?

    It sounds like you’ve come in close contact with Muzzas

  14. I have no sisters, BUT i do go to an all girls school and the topic of boyfriends is endless. i also spent eight weeks socialising with boys during ball practice.
    i know a few things :)

  15. Steve Healy says

    What school do you go to?

  16. tell you but that my friend is confidential information!
    sorry :)

  17. Steve Healy says

    Haha fine I thought you might not tell me

  18. your a very smart cookie Steve :)

  19. Josh Barnstable says

    I like cookies! Anyone heard the news that Dane Swan is the new favourite for the Brownlow Medal? Rightly so i might add.

  20. Josh..i nearly chocked on my pasta from laughing at your:

    “I like cookies!”
    Swan for PRESIDENT!!

  21. opp TYPO:
    I MEANT get the idea!

  22. Josh Barnstable says

    I didn’t even notice your mistake haha

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