AFL Round 7 – Collingwood v North Melbourne: The pain of being bullied

Collingwood versus North Melbourne

7.10pm, Saturday, May 8

Melbourne Cricket Ground

 by Andrew Starkie

Good teams bully North Melbourne.  Intimidate and beat up on us.  Chew us up; spit us out. 

Against a team with similar or less ability, we usually get the job done.  Not so against the top teams. 

We’ve suffered demoralizing defeats at the Cattery in recent years.  Days when the result is obvious not long after squeezing into the standing room behind the city end. Against North, Geelong live up to their name.  They are the metaphorical nasty cat, toying with the limp, dazed mouse.  They toss us here; throw us there. 

At Easter, the Saints led by five goals after ten minutes and the resigned looks from Kangaroo players served as warning to what was coming.  A 104 point humiliation. 

Let’s not talk about the floggings we’ve received in finals.  Like the thumping from the Cats in the 2007 Qualifying Final, followed a few weeks later by the debacle against Port Adelaide.  Remember Tredrea’s poncy goal square bow?

Like I said, let’s not go there.

It happened again on the weekend against the Pies.  We were simply bullied.

I met up with cousin Nick, his wife Louise and their two boys, pre-match in the Members’ Reserve.  Nick and his youngest, Ben, are Roos, while Lou and Dylan follow the Magpies.  They had made the pilgrimage from Hamilton to the big smoke for the annual Pies and Roos clash. 

Nick is as country as a day at the bush races.  He’s a Sunday arvo session at the Stump Hotel, Port Fairy Folk Festival.  He’s a twenty-first birthday bash in the local hall.  Portrait of the queen above the urn.  A B&S Ball in the back of nowhere and a dusty hangover the next morning.

When Nick ventures to the city for the footy, he stands on street corners, looks up at the tall buildings, shakes his head and breathes, ‘Geeze, those buildings are big.’  He stares incredulously at the traffic: ‘Geeze, there’s lots of cars.’

Nick and his late father, my Uncle Adrian, are legends of the Glenthompson Football Club.  A prowling forward pocket with a baulk you could see coming a week away, the highlight of Nick’s long career was a Twos premiership, followed closely by the footy trip to Echuca that same year.

For the last few seasons, Nick’s worked the bench for the seniors with the now combined Dunkeld-Glenthompson Rams.  They finished third in 2009 and expect this to be their year.  The coach didn’t mind him taking a week off to come to Melbourne.

The little fella – picture a shorter, retired Wayne Harmes  – doesn’t say much, however, when he whispered out of earshot of Lou he was fearing a flogging, I had to agree.  When North emerged wearing their poxy ice cream outfit, defeat firmed in the betting.

Collingwood’s good start set the tone for the match.  The Magpies won centre clearances, entered the forward line quick and direct and kept the ball in there.  This allowed them to set their zone: rows of black and white jumpers pushing forward from the centre.  Defenders and on-ballers spreading wide and deep, choking Kangaroo attempts to clear.  Our forwards were sucked up the ground, creating further congestion and confusion.

Like Essendon on ANZAC Day, North tried to handball through the black and white forest, only to turn it over under pressure.  Stationary Kangaroos were mauled by fierce gang tackling.  We were forced into 84 turnovers and 14 of Collingwood’s goals to three-quarter time came from our errors.  We were terrorized.

North’s inexperienced team fell behind early and couldn’t regroup or build momentum at any time.  Our inability to hold tackles was most concerning.  Opponents broke free and away too often.  North’s forward line pressure was poor in comparison and Collingwood were able to rebound easily.

Collingwood treated North Melbourne in the same manner they have Essendon and Carlton in recent weeks.  The Pies are playing at their best and apart from Geelong are as good as any team.  Their challenge, of course, is to maintain this form and produce in September. 

I didn’t expect to win on Saturday night, however, our inability to compete against top teams is concerning.  We are middle of the table and inexperienced, but we need to stand firmer against the likes of the Magpies and Cats.  We can’t be pushed around.

At the final siren, Dylan triumphantly waved a Collingwood flag while Ben melted into tears.  It was time for Nick and Lou to get the boys back to the hotel and in bed.  Waiting in the morning was the long push back across the vast central Victorian plains and beyond the base of the Grampians that rise from the Earth like massive waves. 

I headed up the hill to Jolimont Station.  Pain is an Epping bound train after a Collingwood victory.

COLLINGWOOD                5.4 11.9 18.14 23.19 (157)

NORTH MELBOURNE      3.2   6.4 11.5   14.7     (91)




Collingwood: Sidebottom 5; Medhurst 3; Didak, Dawes, Jolly, Davis 2; Toovey, Johnson, Wood, Thomas, Shaw, O’Bree, Cloke. North Melbourne: Thomas 3; Edwards, Warren, Hale, Wells 2; Swallow, Harvey, Garlett.?



Collingwood: Sidebottom, Thomas, Swan, Didak, Shaw.

North Melbourne: Harvey, Adams, Thomas, Bastinac.

CROWD 52,696 at the MCG.

The Jason Daniltchenko Award


3 – Harvey

2 – Adams

1 – Thomas


  1. Andrew – I feel your pain. I get the Hurstbridge train to Clifton Hill afternthe footy and thankfully get off there. Collingwood, knuckleheads, small “s” socialists abound, my father voted Labor (without the “U”) therefore so do I, scarves in black and white, no sensible conversation, hot Pies everywhere, ohhhhh the pain.

  2. Andrew, don’t be so harsh on the powder blue and white stripes. I’ve got my own clash-strip guernsey, and it’s great, although I can think of better ideas for an away jumper. Blue jumper with white stripes? White jumper with a blue ‘V’?

    I thought the Roos were ok last weekend against the Pies. Sure, we got walloped by 66 points, but we still managed 3.2 in each quarter except the third, where we booted five goals. We wouldn’t have done that last year. I’m slightly concerned how Hale will go once Petrie returns to the side, he’s had a great year so far, but maybe having Petrie and Hale both in the forward line will work to their disadvantage.

    And don’t take any crap from Danni about this loss, at least us North supporters have some sense of humanity.

  3. Danielle says

    2- i’m sorry Josh, take it from a chick’s view. That jumper isn’t pretty! The shade of blue is just to faint, they look like a bunch of…sailor boys or something!

    Mr.Starkie you are far too humble!
    I hope it will be more of a contest next time.
    p.s- Swallow will be a future captain, you heard it from me first.


  4. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Great piece Andrew.

    Stick with the Roos mate, they have some exciting talent. I like Bastinac,Anthony and Warren. Ziebell and Greenwood will get better. Good times are not far away.

    I have felt the Epping line pain too, particularly after Grand Final losses. No one should have to go through that.

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Dips, I have nothing against Cwood. In fact, I think they’re great for the game. All sports need a hero/villain type character. But they shouldn’t be allowed to mix with other people on PT. They should have their own buses.

    Josh, mate, we were smashed. The score flattered us. We need Petrie back and the injuries to Anthony, Adams and Ross will hurt us. Particularly Anthony, he’s suffered too major injuries in his short career which he may carry for life.

    Danielle, you may be right about Swallow. Hope you’re doing school work.

    Phil, good to hear from you. Your boys are looking great, but I don’t know if they can get better. They look to be playing at their peak now and it’s a long way to September. You’re right, we’re on the right track, but a long way from home. Greenwood is back this week, I like him, he’s tough. As I said, the injuries to Anthony et al will hurt us. Catch ya soon, Phil

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