AFL Round 5 – Collingwood v North Melbourne: Dear Brad…

Dear Brad,

Please understand me when I say that it has been so difficult for me to put pen to paper. But having had four days to reflect on just the state of our relationship, I have come to the conclusion that it is past the point of having a hearts to hearts. It is over.

Yes, I will understand if you call me fickle. I will understand if you point out that I have a chequered history: falling first for Ronald Dale, then Denis – who both provided me with the highest of the highs, twice – and then slowly shunning them until they left me; welcoming Dean into my life, but rapidly coming to the realisation that he was not the answer. I then fell hard for you, so impressive did I believe was your knowledge of the game. “We have one of the Scott brothers,” I said ad nauseam in those heady early days. Those memories are quickly fading.

I stood by you in those tough early times. I still find it difficult to forget that terrible 104-point shellacking handed out to us by St Kilda, when others were questioning your ability. But I stood firm, and yes, slowly things began to improve. Together we finished ninth in 2010, then ninth again in 2011. Hurrah, we reached the finals together in 2012; but, looking back, I think that if there was a turning point in our relationship, it was in the days after this 96-point elimination final caning from West Coast.

I had high hopes for us last year. It was to be our big year. A year of close misses. But misses nonetheless. It was all such a great disappointment. And in the end, all you could say was that we would be better for riding through those tough times, and it would prepare us for an improved performance this season.

But Brad, last Saturday’s miserable performance has forced me to sit back and take stock of our relationship. What I saw on Saturday disturbed me greatly:

  • A game-plan which cannot withstand pressure,
  • A lack of development in our fringe and “B-grade” players,
  • Players who are clearly not up to AFL standard (Currie, Firrito who was finished last year!) being selected, which speaks volumes for your management of our list,
  • A stagnant and lack-luster midfield,
  • Kick-outs which are either regularly intercepted or booted straight down the boundary-line.

I admit that I was lulled into a false sense of security. I thought the big loss to Essendon was an aberration after wins over the Bulldogs, Power and Swans. Suddenly I had thoughts of re-committing to our relationship. But no, last Saturday the truth was laid bare for all to see. And, hearts to hearts and hands to hands, I believe that part of you saw it too.

Oh, to lose to Collingwood, and so easily, hurts so much, Brad. Can’t you understand that? You blamed our midfield for allowing Lumumba to run riot, but why did you not do something about it from the coaches’ box? Much has been spoken about your group of assistants, but I see little evidence that it has made any difference whatsoever.

Our relationship has deteriorated to the point where it is beyond repair. Only a premiership this year would go close to rekindling the flames. It is over, Brad. It is time to move on.

And it is not me. It’s you.

Yours etc.



COLLINGWOOD 5.4 10.6 11.9 13.15 (93) NORTH MELBOURNE 2.3 5.3 5.7 8.10 (58)

GOALS Collingwood: Cloke 4, White 2, Beams 2, Elliott 2, Pendlebury, Lumumba, Goldsack

North Melbourne: Thomas 2, Bastinac 2, Gibson, Currie, Greenwood, Harvey

BEST Collingwood: Sidebottom, Cloke, Swan, Lumumba, Pendlebury.

North Melbourne: Cunnington, Gibson, Harvey.

OUR VOTES: 3 Sidebottom; 2 Swan; 1 Cloke.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. John Butler says

    I usually feel the same way after losing to the Pies Smokie.

  2. Gary Robb says

    Smokie I think the major problem is that our coach is a dud !Apart from the fact that the plan cant stand pressure , there is no plan B if we cant play the game on our terms. ( The loss to the Suns in the wet last year is a great example ) We have too many players with marshmellow footskills .Am off to Perth this weekend to see North play the Dockers -could be a very long night !!

  3. Am guessing this has been made all the harder by the herd mentality of the AFL media – most of who bought shares in the North for Top 4 float.

  4. John Butler says

    One of the bigger speculative bubbles that one.

  5. As you say Litza, when the bell hops start buying its time to sell.
    Don’t most AFL journos jump when Andy and Gillon ring the bell?

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Smokie, Simply not good enough under pressure.

  7. Andrew Starkie says

    Smoke, I thought boomer was terrible early. Made some bad decisions aunder pressure. He set one of the youngsters up on the boundary line, maybe McDonald. He was cleaned up.

  8. Interesting how other teams can wipe out a five goal deficit with a good quarter. Not North. Though I hoped for a fightback in the third, I never expected it.
    A mate of mine has wanted Scott sacked for three years.
    Scott has had most of these players for five years for no improvement.
    I tipped North on the basis of wins against Port and Sydney.
    But it is just a learning experience, right? Like the last five years…

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Smokie, your last line reminded me of the song ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You!’ from Stephen Cummings’ brilliant 2007 album ‘Space Travel’.
    Always sad when a relationship ends, you and Scotty seemed so good together!!

  10. Gary,
    I was extremely disillusioned with B Scott last season. I thought he coached poorly on a number of occasions, but this was obscured by all the hystrionics regarding North’s “close losses”.
    Losing to the Pies is difficult at the best of times.
    Litza/JB/Peter B,
    I certainly did not buy into the “Roos for Top 4” speculative stocks. North didn’t even make the finals last year! Let’s try to make the 8 then actually win a final for a change.
    A recurring theme under B Scott is that North get pumped by the good teams. Not even competitive on too many occasions. I wish Boomer was smart enough to realise that he doesn’t have to be creative each and every time he gets the ball.
    (That hospital handball was to McKenzie, who got cleaned up by Frost).
    Your mate is on to something….

  11. Bad management at the top with Brayshaw and it filters down to wish washy efforts on too many occasions. But don’t worry, North people will not put up with shoddy performances so Brayshaw, Scott and co are on notice from North people. The people will speak, fear not.

  12. Andrew Starkie says

    Smoke, could a reason our younger, middle level players appear to have stalled in their development be the fact we don’t have a stand alone twos team? Having our squad split across three teams – seniors, Werribee and Ballarat – must hinder unity, message delivery, cohesion etc.

  13. Paubai,
    I am not sure that even a lowly “pass” mark could be awarded to the Brayshaw era.
    I have never understood why North have affiliations with 2 VFL teams and how it is of any great benefit to North. It also means an extra set of coaches that North’s coaches need to communicate with. At the very least, it means that clubmates must play against each other. A situation which is hardly ideal.

  14. Dear Smokie,
    It’s not him. It’s you.
    Can’t wait to read the grovelling make up letter.

  15. Saw them close up at Subi last night.

    Seemed to be a well coached team with good leadership and developing players coming along nicely.

    Before the game I watched Brad Scott introduce himself and chat to five Legacy kids who were there to sing the national anthem. Highlight of the night for me as it turned out.

  16. Stainless says

    Dear Smokie
    Thank you for your letter, my response to which was delivered on Friday night. I hope this performance addressed all your concerns.

    Noting the many helpful points you raised about game plans and tactics, I took the liberty of copying your correspondence to Ross Lyon. I think he might find them relevant.

    Best wishes


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