AFL Round 9 – North Melbourne v Adelaide: Footy is a joyless, stupid game

I hate football.

Stupid game.

There’s absolutely no joy to be found in it.


You might think otherwise though when you manage to clear out to a 39-point lead early in the second quarter. In fact, a normal, sensibly-minded person would reckon we had it in the bag. Ziebell – flying. Wells – silky skills and pinpoint passing. Bastinac – racking up the possessions. Geez, Lindsay Thomas had 4 goals on the board already, doing his brothers proud on a weekend dedicated to honouring our great indigenous champs. You’d reckon that was a good sign, wouldn’t you? Eh?

But of course, I’m a North Melbourne fan and like all North fans we know all about false hope. Recent history tells us that a lead of that meagre margin is never enough to save us. Not against Sydney, or Collingwood, or Hawthorn, Geelong, West Coast or bloody well anyone. And certainly not against a seemingly outclassed Crows line up.

And so it was no surprise as Adelaide began storming back. Goals to Petrenko, Jenkins and Sloane saw the margin back to 15 points in a manner of minutes. North answered with three quick ones of their own to kick the lead back out to 36 points late in the second quarter.

Safe this time? Nuh – don’t be stupid. A few minutes and 4 goals later the half-time siren rings and the Crows head into the rooms full of running and only 10 points behind a spluttering Kangaroos outfit.

But North are nothing if not a bunch of flirty teases and opened the third quarter on fire once again. Lindsay bagged his fifth, Black and Cunnington both kicked truly and the Roos were out to a good lead out once again.

The trouble was, North have been finding new and unusual ways to lose all season so the nagging feeling that more pain was on it’s way just wouldn’t go away. Sitting with regular footy pal, Jason, the feeling was mutual. “We’re fucked”, he said eloquently, as the Crows once again pegged us back to 18 points at the final break.

The last quarter was like a bad movie that you know the end to. Everything seemed to move in slow motion and to a pre-determined script. North again the first to hit the scoreboard… Goal Cunnington; Goal Petrie. One back to Adelaide then another to us. Seesawing, frenetic football. Then the moment… Adelaide’s Brent Reilly kicks out straight into the waiting arms of Daniel Wells 20 metres out. Wellsy goes back, slots it easily and North lead by 30 points with 10 minutes to go. Surely this was the nail in the coffin? Surely? SURELY????

Of course, you all know what happened next. All of a sudden North couldn’t buy a clearance. Dangerfield, Sloane, Thompson, Douglas… players that had been relatively quiet all day started to hold of the pill. Bastinac went missing. Cunnington, Harvey, Wellsy – nowhere to be seen. North were fumbling, turning the ball over and then a man by the name of Sam Kerridge bobbed up. Who, you ask? Good question and admittedly it took a quick scan of my crumpled footy record to find out who the hell this number 29 actually was.

Having already kicked three in the 3rd quarter, Kerridge was blitzing it again at the death. One goal then another from the kid, his fifth for the day and the Crows had a sniff. North were doing their best to lost it, the not-so-super sub, Sammy Wright blowing two gilt-edged chances to score goals before the Adelaide team rushed it the length of the field where that man Kerridge gracefully picked the ball up off the Etihad turf, spun around and dished off a beautiful handball to a running Richard Douglas who snapped truly and put them within 12 points of an unlikely (though somewhat predictable) miracle victory.

More fumbles, a clumsy free kick given away on our goal line and it was on again. Adelaide seemed to be running training drills as they again easily charged forward into the waiting arms of, who else, Sam Kerridge. He comfortably nailed his sixth and it was a single goal the difference.

Now came the test. Could North win a close one? Could they stay calm and ice the clock? Well, of course not. Instead, they still couldn’t hit a target or win a contested ball. The Crows slammed it forward again only for Jared Petrenko to miss a tough snap and it was 5 points the diff with seconds remaining.

I considered leaving at this moment, as the outcome was inevitable. We’d seen it all before and of course it came to pass. 18 seconds to go, the ball spills to the back of a pack where Petrenko is inexplicably standing unmarked, he shoes it thru in mid-air and for the first time all day, the Crows hit the lead. Game over.

The long drive home to Ocean Grove was miserable, as was the sight of the smashed Foxtel remote in the family room courtesy of my fellow Roo following son, Darcy. It’d been that kind of day.

NORTH MELBOURNE      4.4  10.6    16.6     19.10   (124)

ADELAIDE                           1.2   8.8     12.12   18.17   (125)



North Melbourne: Thomas 5, Cunnington 3, Petrie 2, Ziebell 2, Gibson 2, Harvey, MacMillan, Gibson, Swallow, Black

Adelaide: Kerridge 6, Jenkins 3, Vince 2, Petrenko 2, McKernan, Douglas, Sloane, Porplyzia, Douglas


North Melbourne: Cunnington, Thomas, Gibson, Ziebell, Bastinac, Swallow

Adelaide: Kerridge, Dangerfield, Douglas, Jenkins, Thompson, Vince

Umpires: Stevic, Wenn, McInerney

Official crowd: 23,033

Our Votes: 3 Kerridge (Adel), 2 Cunnington (NM), 1 Thomas (NM)



  1. Ben Footner says

    I’ll preface this post by stating that I’m not trying to rub it in here, but….

    it all depends on what side you are on I guess – this game delivered the ultimate football joy to me!

    This game was the ultimate of what footy offers – it was the extreme experience for both supporter bases.

    I am very glad (and moreso since reading and empathising with North accounts on this site) that I was on the positive side of the extreme experience this time around!

  2. Great stuff, Squawk. I agree with every word of those first four lines. Or I did until about 7:30 on Saturday night.

    And I’m sure I will again soon.

  3. Mark Wallace says

    Ben, I’m so glad you said that to me on a Wednesday night and not five minutes after the game. I don’t think I could’ve been as polite as I am now. I take your point and you’re dead right. The repetitive nature of our non-ability to win games when we’re 5 goals up is the kicker though. Hell, Adelaide were great and never gave in. Kudos to ya’s and i really mean that but geez, fuck me dead, I can’t take any more of this.

  4. *sigh* So right, Wally. I had the letdowns to this game in reverse.

    Rolled over half asleep at 6:30, figured the game would be over by now.

    Flipped on the bedside electronic device, checked the result, expecting an unconvincing win. 1 point. Oh no.

    The actual score was 125-124. Oh geez, they’ve thrown away what should have been a winning score.

    Scroll down and look at the score worm. Oh, no. Thrown away a big last-quarter lead. Again. Without even knowing how it happened, so angry.

    Well, I’m not going to be able to sleep now. Get up, start watching the replay on the laptop.

    By half time the kids are uo, and the way the second quarter ended, I’d just be a masochist to watch the rest anyway. Close lid. The Toronto Doors Open weekend is on, and I’d rather check out the Art Deco water treatment plant than subject myself to any more football.

    But geez, I love Ben Cunnington more every week. Go Roos.

  5. Hey Wally,
    Is there somewhere we might be able to get a package deal on replacement remote controls?

  6. Basso Divor says

    I feel your pain Wal. Just hope you don’t become as disillusioned and bitter about the Roos as your colleague Mick has with his Saints. Hang tough bro!

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