AFL Round 2 – North Melbourne v Brisbane: The Waite Conundrum

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” (from “Casablanca”).

How does one respond when one’s club trades in a player for whom you have hitherto had no respect, no love, and just total animosity? Alas, I found myself in this invidious situation during the summer when North Melbourne acquired free agent Jarrad Waite from Carlton.

An early practice-match indiscretion (for which he was subsequently cleared without charge), had me nodding sagely that, yes, this was indeed the same player who had been the subject of many an abusive cry of “peanut” (and plenty worse besides) while watching him on television. It only took until round 2 for the essence of this conundrum to be laid bare before me, when on Sunday evening Waite put paid to a threadbare Brisbane defence. 22 disposals, 12 marks, 7 goals: Waite was a towering presence in North’s forward line, monstering Justin Clarke amongst others. I was conscious of the fact that I was enjoying his performance, and even found myself willing him toward the footy as his personal goal tally expanded late in the game.

Without skipper Rockliff, defender Merritt and midfielder Handley, Brisbane was ripe for the picking. And in light of this, surely nothing less than a ten-goal win over a depleted Lions outfit would have been sufficient for the Kangaroos in their efforts to atone for the thrashing they suffered at the hands of the Crows a week prior. North achieved that ten-goal buffer and more, clawing back the percentage damage sustained in round one. Indeed, the final margin blew out to 82 points, a fair reflection of North’s dominance on the day.

The Kangaroos midfielders regained some semblance of form after their insipid performance in Adelaide: Gibson, Ziebell, Harvey, Cunnington and Swallow found plenty of the ball, and Higgins seemed to do as he pleased. For that dominant group, it was no coincidence that Todd Goldstein lorded it over Stefan Martin and Matthew Leuenberger to be clearly best afield.

Up forward, North had multiple targets in Waite, Ben Brown, Lindsay Thomas, and Drew Petrie. However, there is something about Petrie that has me wondering if he is grimly wrestling with his football mortality. If that is the case, North will be looking to Waite more and more to the heavy lifting up forward – an alarming prospect for supporters who are yet to be fully convinced by him. Supporters like me.

“I don’t know how to love him, what to do, how to move him.” (from “Jesus Christ Superstar”).

I have reached the conclusion that while I will never place Jarrad Waite upon the same pedestal of admiration on which I sat heroes of the past such as Glen Archer, I will respect the fact that he plays for my club. I wish nothing but the best for him. And while I will continue to applaud those aspects of his play that are worthy of acknowledgement, I will remain on alert for his ‘brain-fades’, and continue to be ever so slightly uncomfortable watching him running around in the blue and white stripes.

Votes: 3 Goldstein (NM), 2 (gulp) Waite (NM), 1 Redden (BL).



About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Your twitter even more of a “must follow” during North games now! Good luck

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I hope Lindsay Thomas never ends up at the Crows.

  3. The People's Elbow says

    He’ll always give you one seven goal game early, and one late. As for all that’s in between – well, that’s not my problem any more, thank Christ.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Have carried Waite for many years in a fantasy football competition (old school style where the score is only based upon goals and points kicked by players and a group of people actually meet in person twice a year to draft team replacements) so can wholly identify with the Waite conundrum.

    My experience has been you get 15 games out of him per season and he’ll rock up for 10. But when he does it is glorious. With each season the promise is always for something greater, maybe this will be that year. I decided not to delist Waite this year out of a sense of nostalgia as much as anything else. What is to love about the game if not for the romance of what could and might be?

  5. Waite reminds me of the way Robert Walls was once described.
    He’d be brilliant in the first few rounds and the last few.
    Nothing in between, unless there was finals.
    Waite bullied a team not expected to make the finals.
    I’d like to see him do that against Port this week.

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Smoke, I’m not yet prepared to love him. I’m not that easy.

  7. AS, I don’t think it’s real love, I think Smokie’s just settled.

  8. He could do better – he deserves better

  9. Why do I et the feeling that all you non-North supporters are laughing at me?

    Andrew, there is no way I will ever love him (except maybe if he kicks a bag in a winning grand final team).

  10. John Butler says

    Smokie, you know it’ll end in tears. But probably not before Waite kicks a bag against the Blues.

  11. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    As Johnny Cash might say: “He will make you hurt.” Enjoy the flat-track heroics for Waite is capable of bags against the shit teams. Love him for what he is I guess.

  12. Andrew Starkie says

    Ok, ok, I may have called out ‘Yes, Jarrad!’ at one point in the last term.

    Maybe I am easy.

  13. FTBT. FTB.
    First Thoughts Best Thoughts. Flat Track Bully (as Phil D advised).
    Drew Petrie?

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