AFL Round 6 – North Melbourne v Port: Leave pass

I have a leave pass for tonight but have to earn it this afternoon. I’m heading out later with an old mate for a few beers and a dose of live Rockabilly in a Brunswick pub, but right now I’m on baby duties. Linda has gleefully disappeared for an afternoon of shopping.

I’ve hung a load of washing on the line, fed and changed Eloise and loaded her in the pram and we’re rolling up the road to the Coburg City Oval to catch the second half of the Burgers and Essendon in the VFL. As is usually the case, motion sends Eloise off to sleep and her tiny feet hang limply out the front of the pram.

We arrive as the teams shuffle out for the resumption. A healthy crowd is in and kids take hangers on each other out on the ground while polo-shirted coaching staff scurry into position. Under a gentle sun, we take our place on the terrace in front of the old grandstand. The Burgers are in control on the score board.

I have the radio in my ear. From Hobart, undefeated Port kick the first of the match but North dominate the remainder of the first quarter. Wells, Ziebell and Thompson – all of whom must be in All-Australian calculations at this early stage of the season, along with Thomas and Swallow – are everywhere and Majak, Black and Petrie are amongst the goals. North by 33 points.

If this were last year, Port would fold like a pack of deck chairs. However, Camperdown boy, Ken Hinkley, absent today with illness, has his team running full of confidence and dare. Helped along by a quarter-time serve by stand-in coach, Alan Richardson, Port work their way back into the contest. Cornes goes to Wells, which frees up Cassisi, who combines with Boak to take over around the ground.

Five goals to two for the term and North’s half-time lead is 15 points in what sounds like an attractive, open game in good conditions. Eloise stirs and I take her for a stroll around the oval as former Roo, Aaron Edwards, floats gracefully under a pass on the wing and drags in a strong mark for the Burgers.

Thankfully, the composure North have lacked this season is present today and we wrestle back control. Adams kicks the first of the third term and Wells, who has snuck forward to shake his tag, gets one as well. Bastinac is closing down Hartlett while getting the ball himself and Firrito and Thompson determine things in defence.

It’s a less free flowing quarter but North have pushed the lead back out to just under 5 goals.

By now the match at Coburg is limping to a one-sided finish and Eloise, with the day growing a bit chilly, decides she’s had enough. We head for home.

As we pass the bowls club on Harding Street, Thomas gets a shove and converts the free kick. This game should be over.

Back in the warmth of the lounge, with Eloise on the floor industriously going about her business accompanied by favourites, Monkey and Teddy Bear, Port come again. Gray is taken high and goes back and kicks straight. Lobbe is grabbed by Goldstein and he does the same. It’s back to 21 points and I try to block out memories of the corresponding match from last season when North coughed up a big lead at Football Park.

Adams eases North’s – and mine – concerns when he receives a handball from Petrie and kicks his second. Again, this game should be dusted.

Three more goals to Port narrows the margin to 10 points with two minutes left. I spend the remaining time pacing nervously around the house, followed by Eloise on all fours.

In the end, North were probably never going to lose this match after quarter-time, but it was a typically messy, laboured win.

With Eloise playing happily, the clothes brought in off the line and the house in some order, Linda arrives home. After a lengthy and discerning inspection, she gives me the non-verbal, raised eye brow tick of approval.

I head off to choose a shirt for tonight.

NORTH MELBOURNE 7.2 9.4 12.7 14.9 (93)
PORT ADELAIDE 1.5 6.7 7.9 12.11 (83)

North Melbourne: Petrie 3; Black, Thomas, Adams 2; Ziebell, Wells, Wright, Goldstein, Daw
Port Adelaide: Schulz 3; Wingard 2; Neade, Renouf, Broadbent, Gray, Monfries, Wines, Lobbe

North Melbourne: Bastinac, Wells, Ziebell, Swallow, Thompson, Firrito
Port Adelaide: Boak, Cassisi, Cornes, Shulz, Ebert, Wines, Wingard

Umpires: Stewart, Meredith, McInerney

Official crowd: 10,265 at Blundstone Arena
Our votes: Bastinac (NM) 3, Wells (NM) 2, Boak (PA) 1.


  1. pauldaffey says

    Nice one, Starks. Hard to mix footy with a newborn for more than a quarter, so you’ve done well.

    Aaron Edwards is a mystery. He’s slaying them at Coburg but it seems the Tigers have picked him up entirely for depth purposes. Half the forward line will have to go down before he gets a game.

  2. AS…
    Call me a pessimist, but there were some very ordinary signs in that final quarter. Some really poor decision-making under pressure, and a few brain-fades. Overall, playing just dumb footy.
    I won’t cop “inexperience” as a justification either, as Port are probably younger than North.
    Terribly frustrating.
    Come back Boomer, all is forgiven..

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