Almanac Footy: A Lost Classic – Round 14, 1993. Fitzroy v North Melbourne

 

 

 

Round 14, 1993. Fitzroy v North Melbourne (Princes Park). Attendance: 13,965.

 

Saturday, July 3 1993.

 

 

What can we say about the 1993 AFL season that hasn’t already been said? Not enough! It was the season that had almost everything. There’s even a podcast about it. Incredibly even with only three and a half wins separating first from twelfth, three key forwards topping the ton for the first time since 1970 (another contender for one of the league’s best seasons, check the Kick-to-Kick podcast), an All-Australian full back who finishes the season with 68 goals to his name, exciting new contenders, spectacular fade-outs and shoot-outs, desperate late-season dashes, and then there’s the fixture itself. While Friday night footy finally comes into its own with the resurgence of North Melbourne under coach Denis Pagan and Sunday fixtures get a fair share of the pie, there’s still enough games played on a Saturday afternoon to please the purists among us.

 

 

I say almost everything as what it didn’t have was 22 rounds thus denying Geelong, who were on a ball-tearing late season run home, percentage-boosting victories over Sydney and Richmond whom they would have played had it not been a 20-game season. I guess you can’t have everything.

 

 

This was the days before Foxtel and full television coverage of every game. Fixtures not deemed worthy of the ‘match of the day’ status made do with the bare necessities: the single camera and a reliance on the hand-operated scoreboards in lieu of on-screen graphics. Radio commentary was dubbed over the vision and a short highlights package hastily prepared for the sports segment of that evening’s news. Despite the primitive aspect of covering these matches, the radio calls meant that any lulls in play were filled by going “around the grounds” which given the importance of ratings and having no two games occurring simultaneously is sadly an all too distant relic that is almost certainly never to be revisited.

 

 

While these matches may have been allocated secondary status, there were plenty that in retrospect were worthy of a higher ranking but the chances are if you weren’t there, you’d never know which brings us to the crux of this piece. Sometime during 2020, I started uploading old games to my YouTube channel. This was partly to fill the time during the early stages of the Covid outbreak but also in a response to the absence of Name-a-Game and the fact that neither the Fox Footy channel nor the league itself appear all that interested in the game’s history beyond the space of a fortnight from the present day.

 

 

I recalled one of the episodes of the ’93 podcast where the hosts spoke of one of the great ‘lost’ games. One that sounded like an absolute cracker of a match between Fitzroy and North Melbourne at Princes Park. North was the glamour side of 1993 while Fitzroy were having one last moment in the sun as a competitive force on the field with their remaining three seasons at AFL level netting just seven wins. There was also a short documentary made with this game as the backdrop. Surely footage of the full match existed. As luck would have it, I happened to come across a copy through a connection on another forum and figured it was too good not to share. Not only is it a gem of a contest, there’s also the superb commentary of Tim Lane, Peter Booth, et al on 3LO and yes, they go around the grounds and even find space to announce the race results early in the opening term. I can forgive perennial list-compiler Rohan Connolly for leaving this one out of his top ten games for season ’93. After all, it is one rescued from obscurity. Perhaps he’s never seen it.

 

 

Anyways without further ado, here’s the match report and, as if that wasn’t enough, the link to the game is down below.

 

 

Background

 

Coming in to this match, North Melbourne were the form side. Sitting atop the AFL ladder with a very handy percentage. In their past four matches they had accounted for eventual grand finalists Essendon, trounced the previous year’s finalists Collingwood on their home deck by over 80 points then played in arguably two of the best games of the year: winning by a goal against reigning premiers West Coast at the W.A.C.A. and then going down in a nail-biter to perennial finalists Hawthorn by three points, three out of four of these games occurring on what would become their plum gig – the Friday night fixture.

 

 

Fitzroy meanwhile had lost their last four games after beginning the season in sensational style upsetting Carlton at Princes Park. Wins against Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne would follow before they would meet some serious contenders in West Coast whom they disposed of in Perth by 18 points and then Collingwood by a similar margin at Princes Park in atrocious conditions. The ‘Young Lions’ as they were dubbed by Football Record were the giant-killers of 1993 beating all but two of that season’s finalists. The Roys were sitting in fourth position in Round 10 when they met Essendon on Friday night at the MCG and although they were quick out of the gates (possibly aided by a glitch in the communications system where the Fitzroy coaching staff were able to listen in on the Essendon box thus thwarting their every on-field move), the Bombers, who had begun to work their way up from eleventh on the ladder in Round 6 won a thriller in the last minute by four points. Not dissimilar to the previous season, Fitzroy nosedived from there losing games to Richmond, Geelong which they almost pinched and St Kilda.

 

 

 

 

 

North Melbourne needed to shore up top position following their loss to the Hawks and, with the shortened season, here was an opportunity to prey on a badly wounded opponent. The Lions had gone from fourth to eleventh and were desperate for a win not only to arrest their form slump but to get themselves back in to contention which, given the scalps they had taken already this season, was not beyond them.

 

 

As if the pressure going in to this game wasn’t enough, Sports Sunday’s Anne-Maree Sparkman was filming a feature story on Fitzroy and had been able to convince coach Robert Shaw to be mic’d up throughout the match. As Sparkman herself says, Fitzroy are the underdogs not given a snowball’s chance in hell of upsetting the league leaders. They go into this match without Dundas, Gale and skipper Paul Roos.

 

 

Umpires: Murray Bird and Darren Goldspink.

 

 

In the commentary box for ABC/3LO: Tim Lane, Peter Booth, Peter Keenan, Stan Alves.

 

 

Around the grounds: David McKay covering the St Kilda v Melbourne game at Waverley, Phillip Pinnell at the MCG for Essendon v Brisbane and at Kardinia Park, Triple Brownlow Medallist Bob Skilton (yes, that’s his full name) for the match between Geelong and Footscray.

 

 

First Quarter

 

Fitzroy’s Sartori gets the first kick of the match following a centre square infringement and after a smother on Wynd, Zanotti clears to McGregor and Lynch marks in the goal square. First blood to Fitzroy as Lynch goals. Ishchenko wins the next clearance but the Lions have started positively and despite entries from Roberts and Laidley the Lions’ defence has North well covered. Zanotti, starting on the half-forward line is proving to be a revelation providing the Lions with plenty of drive. He finds Lyon who adds Fitzroy’s second major at the four-minute mark. North clear following an error by Lyon against Larkin and it’s play on after Wayne Carey is pushed by McCarthy, his opponent and ex-teammate, and North open their account through Longmire. The Roos go forward again this time through Mark Roberts who’s good early on but his kick goes out of bounds on the full. It’s no holds barred with both sides attacking the ball and the man fiercely. North’s Laidley looks to be one of the early casualties. Broderick is able to gather Smith’s kickout and narrowly misses as does McGregor moments later. Wynd is given a free who finds Lyon unattended and he registers Fitzroy’s third goal which sails through post-high from a long way out. Smith off injured for North, Clarkson on. Another sortie forward from Fitzroy’s Armstrong sees Laidley clear out of defence from a free but Boyd intercepts to find Manson who marks in a pack 30 metres out and the Lions make the most of their early dominance with four goals on the board. North’s defence looks to be struggling to cope with the Lions tall forward line featuring Lynch, Zanotti, Sartori and Manson. They continue to attack with Roberts the main standout for North Melbourne. Carey is struggling to get involved in the game with his opponent McCarthy having the better of the duel in the early stages. Play goes back and forth with behinds to both sides before Lynch brings up the Lions’ fifth goal (his second) after a free for holding 20m out and Sartori soon kicks their sixth as Paxman is freed on a wing, giving a 30-point lead to the home side. The Lions who’ve been in something of a form slump ever since that narrow loss to Essendon in Round 10 have the ladder-leaders in trouble early. Manson marks 52 metres out but inexplicably plays on and Broderick gathers only to have his kick smothered by Crocker. Ball up 60 metres out. North go forward but Hawking clears with ease and finds Zanotti, his pass intended for Lynch results in a free for holding while Johnston floats across the pack and it’s Crocker’s free. Moments later Mann is freed on the 50-metre line for North and adds another behind to North followed by McAdam who breaks clear of Elliott and marks but fails to convert at the 27-minute mark. Fitzroy meanwhile are on target as Elliott receives the kick-in from Hawking who passes to Guard on the wing who finds Zanotti who’s having a birthday on that half-forward line. He dishes off a pass to Lyon who kicks his third goal on the run from 30 metres out. Wynd clears the centre bounce again but it soon goes North’s way and Longmire marks in the goal square and kicks his (and North’s) second. Another surge forward and Carey remains out of sorts allowing an easy mark to McCarthy. McAdam kicks North Melbourne’s third goal in time on after he marks on the 50 and is given 50 against Paxman. Ill-discipline creeping in from the Lions at the 31-minute mark. However, the Lions quickly respond as Zanotti is held on his attacking 50. He passes to Manson who brings up his second on quarter time. Lions by 28 points and North have their problems with Carey almost unsighted, Smith off injured and Laidley, one of North’s better players, also hampered by injury.

 

Quarter time: Fitzroy 8.3.51 to North Melbourne 3.5.23

Around the grounds: Essendon 5.4.34 to Brisbane 1.6.12 at the MCG

St Kilda 1.3.9 to Melbourne 7.2.44 at Waverley

Geelong 2.2.14 to Footscray 1.1.7 at Kardinia Park

 

 

Second quarter

 

Second term underway and North’s Dwyer is freed early but his kick is intercepted by McCarthy who receives a 50 much to Carey’s chagrin who, with no possessions against his name, is dragged and straight on to the phone. Archer is soon able to get the ball forward to Rock who gets the opening goal for North. Mann gets the Roos forward again, a kick from Clarkson sees McAdam freed after Carey fails to mark. McAdam goals from 40 metres out. Five minutes gone and Fitzroy’s lead is cut to 16 points. North well and truly back in the match after the Lions got the jump on them in the first term. Fitzroy yet to go forward and it’s all North. German goals from a throw-in in the right forward pocket 25m out and the margin is now 10 points as the rain falls over Princes Park. The Lions finally find a way forward but there’s little reward from three forward entries. However, Broderick is able to find Lynch who brings up the Roys’ first goal of the second quarter as Laidley is off with a shoulder injury leaving North with no bench. Ishchenko now in the pocket, Mann in ruck for North. North attack again through Allison but his kick goes out of bounds on the full. Seecamp’s kick is intercepted by Stevens hard against the boundary line who finds Carey who is awarded a dubious free 15m out on a 45-degree angle. He duly converts restoring the margin to ten points at the 13-minute mark. Manson takes mark of the day near the John Elliott stand with a rare hanger. His fifth mark of the day. He finds Seecamp whose kick is gathered by Zanotti. His snap goes as far as the goal square where Broderick gathers the spill and stretches the Lions lead back out to 16 points. They seem to have weathered the early onslaught from North and Broderick is soon in the action once again but is superbly tackled by Mann in the centre of the ground. His handpass finds McAdam who dishes off another to Larkin who kicks to Ishchenko who misses from just inside 50. A chance gone begging but the Roos go forward again as German intercepts Baldwin’s kick and finds Rock who passes to McAdam 25m out. He kicks and misses. 14 points at the 17-and-a-half-minute mark. Play ensues and another great tackle this time from North’s Dwyer on the wing who finds Stevens who feeds the ball to Larkin and again McAdam the target 25m out directly in front with Carey seemingly off the radar. His third goal cuts the deficit to eight points. Manson wins the next hit-out and clears for the Lions but the ball is gathered by Roberts who kicks North out of danger. Broderick sends it back the other way. It’s lost but gained again as Lynch is freed and goals from 40 metres out registering his fourth with the rain really pouring now. North soon respond as Larkin is freed for a high tackle. His kick picked up by Stevens who goals. Stevens is finding more of the ball this quarter but Broderick and Guard are soon able to combine to find Lynch yet again who narrowly misses. The game is looking like a slog from here on in as the heavy downpour is having its effect on the marking. There’s little action for the next few minutes until Scholl is able to get clear of Zanotti who finds Mann whose kick forward is roved by Rock. His kick in to the breeze cuts the margin to just two points. The headaches continue for Fitzroy as moments later Fairley marks with 32 minutes played. The siren sounds and Fairley puts the Roos up by four points.

 

 

Half time: Fitzroy 11.4.70 to North Melbourne 11.8.74

Around the grounds: Essendon 10.9.69 to Brisbane 3.8.26 at the MCG

St Kilda 5.5.35 to Melbourne 10.5.65 at Waverley

Geelong 6.6.42 to Footscray 3.2.20 at Kardinia Park

 

 

Third quarter

 

Third term underway as Fitzroy start the quarter with Sartori in ruck and Manson and McGregor occupying the pockets either side of Lynch. The game looks like it’s going to be untidy for the rest of the day. North doing all the attacking early on and German gets the first goal of the term (his second) from a ball-up in North’s forward 50. Luckily for Fitzroy, McCarthy still has the edge over Carey who does not appear likely to get in to the game. North’s injury worries are further exacerbated as Fairley looks to have injured his shoulder. With nobody on North’s bench though, he must stay on the ground. The rain continues to pour as Dwyer receives a free. His kick from 60m drops short but Roberts, North’s best player, kicks over his shoulder just outside the goal square. Goals will be hard won in these conditions with Fitzroy desperate for a major but North are in control in every area of play. Former Lion Blakey soon wins possession and he passes to Allison from half-forward who finds McAdam who takes a sliding mark in the pocket and, still on his knees, dishes off a pass to Longmire who kicks his third. Tempers fray for the Lions as Manson has his number taken. Behinds follow for the Lions but they need goals to keep pace with the ladder-leaders. Ill-discipline ensues as Lynch gives away a 50 and with Crocker’s kick from 60m out, Zanotti (now in the backline) infringes against Roberts in the goal square and he joins Manson in the book. Roberts kicks his second and North look to have the game sewn up with the margin out to 26 points in less-than-ideal conditions. Roberts soon has a chance to run in and kick his third but inexplicably bananas across the face and the ensuing play results in a behind. At long last, Seecamp is able to mark 20m out from Fitzroy’s goal after receiving a pass from Baldwin and he registers Fitzroy’s first goal of the quarter at the 21-minute mark. There have been 23 frees paid in 20 minutes and they keep coming. Carey, outclassed by McCarthy all day, gets a rare touch but misses from just on 50. McAdam marks deep in the pocket and also misses. Broderick marks deep in the Roys’ forward pocket and kicks across the face as the rain begins to ease. Dean Harding is freed and also misses for the Lions. The frees show no sign of abating as it’s Baldwin’s turn to be the lucky recipient. His kick falls in the goal square and is sharked by Lynch who goals at the 28-minute mark. North by 16. Lynch with five goals. North adds two more behinds before the siren sounds. 33 minutes of play, the margin 17 points. It has been an active quarter for the whistleblowers as well with the count tallying 33 frees to Fitzroy, 32 to North.

 

Three quarter time: Fitzroy 13.7.85 to North Melbourne 15.12.102

Around the grounds: Essendon 20.12.132 to Brisbane 4.9.33 at the MCG

St Kilda 6.8.44 to Melbourne 12.6.78 at Waverley

Geelong 9.12.66 to Footscray 5.6.36 at Kardinia Park

 

 

Fitzroy coach Robert Shaw heads on to the ground and is quick to provide some honest feedback to umpires Goldspink and Bird. Namely, “You’ve been a fucking disgrace!” Turning his attention back towards the playing group, Shaw brings his charges to the fence for one final gee-up.

 

 

Final quarter

 

The final term is underway and McGregor receives the first free kick of the quarter after he is tripped on the 50. His kick is shepherded by Hawking for a goal and the Lions get the start they needed. McGregor receives another free moments later as Roberts kicks out on the full. His kick misses everything from the angle. Still, McGregor remains the architect of the Lions recovery as his kick from the centre finds Seecamp. Lynch is able add the finishing touch, soccering it through for his sixth goal bringing the margin back to five points. The margin is soon an even goal as McAdam misses an easy shot on the run. Fitzroy continue to attack as Lynch outmuscles Crocker and marks a pass from Elliott. It’s even-stevens now as Lynch has seven goals. Another surge forward has Lyon marking and he puts the Lions ahead albeit by the barest of margins as his kick hits the post. North go forward and Longmire marks on the 50. The ball goes through the outstretched hands of Carey who claims the mark but a behind is called. Scores are level again. North regain lead as Ishchenko rushes a behind. McGregor is shining in this term as he finds himself in the action once more. He sends the Lions forward and Harding goals on the run with 16 minutes played. A free from Lynch is hooked and it’s a goal the difference. Moments later, Allison centres the ball for North and Fairley marks 30m out. His second goal sees it all square yet again at 111 points apiece with 21 minutes played. Armstrong puts the home side up by a point with less than two minutes to go. Fitzroy look to have the running as they lead by seven at the 29-and-a-half-minute mark as Elliott sidesteps Clarkson. It looks in the bag for Fitzroy as Lynch adds another behind but it’s the Roos who surge forward with 31 minutes gone. McAdam snaps his fourth goal over his shoulder and it’s back to two points. North has one more chance as Stevens lines up from 65 metres out. It bounces through for a behind with 33 minutes gone. The siren sounds and the Roys have held on and it takes merely seconds for the crowd to invade the pitch engulfing the players.

 

 

Full time: Fitzroy 18.11.119 to North Melbourne 17.16.118

Goals: Fitzroy – Lynch 7, Lyon 3, Manson 2, Broderick, Elliott, Harding, McGregor, Sartori, Seecamp.

North Melbourne – McAdam 4, Longmire 3, Fairley 2, German 2, Roberts 2, Rock 2, Carey, Stevens.

Best: Fitzroy – Broderick, Lynch, Elliott, McCarthy, McGregor, Baldwin, Armstrong, Zanotti.

North Melbourne – Roberts, Stevens, German, Larkin, Rock, McAdam, Clarkson.

 

 

Around the grounds: Essendon 23.17.155 to Brisbane 4.15.39 at the MCG

St Kilda 6.10.46 to Melbourne 14.8.92 at Waverley

Geelong 15.20.110 to Footscray 8.6.54 at Kardinia Park

 

 

Following this match, North Melbourne would hold top spot for two more rounds courtesy of a 38-point win over eventual premiers Essendon (on Friday night of course) and a rudimentary seven-goal victory over Brisbane at the Gabba. Following that, they would go 2-3 including a 94-point thumping at the hands of Geelong who at the time were experiencing their own late season resurrection. Injuries to Longmire and Carey didn’t help matters and the Roos eventually finished third and were easily accounted for by West Coast in the Elimination Final at Waverley. Still, there were better days to come for North Melbourne. Fitzroy were unable to sustain the intensity of what was probably their best win of the season and the lost their next three games to Hawthorn, Carlton and Footscray by significant margins. However, like the Cats who stormed home in the last five games of the year to narrowly miss the six on percentage, the Lions came home with a wet sail defeating Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in their last four matches of the season. With their list, they had reason to be hopeful for season 1994 but given events during the off-season which resulted in most of the Lions’ on-field top brass departing the club, four wins is all they could muster. Two wins the next year. Then one. Then there was no more. But that’s a downer that wasn’t really the intended focus of this piece. Speaking of which, here’s the game itself! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full stats for the game can be found HERE

 

 

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About Adam Fox

Perth-based DJ, radio presenter (hosting and coordinating Soulsides on RTR-FM 92.1), writer, serial procrastinator, plate-licker, leftist, Geelong supporter with a very soft spot for Fitzroy and Richmond. I play late ‘50s to early ‘70s r&b/soul/mod 45s both on air and about town. I completed my BA Honours by submitting a thesis on Frank Zappa. I love the history of the VFL/AFL, especially the old suburban grounds and am obsessed with the 1989 Grand Final (especially the ABC-3LO call). My passions are footy, 45s, my cats (RIP Althea & Cliodhna), my wife and young son Matteo and the city of Melbourne which I visit as often as possible. I also like long walks on the beach and long necks of Melbourne Bitter.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this fantastic lookback at one of Fitzroy’s great wins of their “abbreviated” 1990s, Adam.
    And thanks also for posting a replay of the game.
    It’s remarkable to think that the Roys also beat the Roos by a solitary point at Princes Park two years earlier.
    Despite kicking seven goals against the battling Swans earlier in the season, by virtue of keeping Wayne Carey so quiet, this would have to have been John McCarthy’s best game as a Lion (I was surprised no club picked him up at the end of 1996).
    Yes, 1993 was an amazing season, with 12 of the 15 teams having win percentages of at least 50%.
    Had the season been a full 22 games instead of 20 (I can’t recall the reason for the reduction), who knows who would’ve been premiers.

  2. Big ups Pete.

    I also have that game from ’91 on my YouTube:
    https://youtu.be/BW-WclXEoEQ – first half
    https://youtu.be/IiOSKuL-Na0 – second half

    John Ironmonger’s last game. In the 3LO box no one gave them a chance bar Crackers Keenan. Then I believe they beat West Coast by 10 points a fortnight later.

    Had they won that game against Essendon in ’93 as well as that one where they nearly got the Cats, what a different six we would have had.

    I still recall that interview with McCarthy after their last match in ’96. Everyone seemed to think it was a matter of course that he’d be picked up by someone. But unfortunately that was it.

  3. Shane Reid says

    What a game, thanks for the memories Adam. I was pretty close to the fence that day when Shawy brought them over to the boundary line at 3/4 time. One of my favourite days at the footy.

    I remember there was some talk in the media that Roosy may have been a late inclusion, he was coming towards the end of his time away with a broken jaw from the state game. I was sitting near the race as they came out. He followed them, but in a suit!

    93 – jeez we were close, swings and roundabouts. I think we lost three games by less than a goal and to Geelong by 7 points. Win all four and we finish on top!

  4. No doubt Roos would have cut quite a swath too. If memory serves Gary Ayres said Geelong’s best player in the ’95 GF was wearing a suit (the injured Barry Stoneham).

    Have done the math meself and yep, a record of 3W/ 3L for games decided by a goal or less in ’93 for the Lions. Win them all they make the six, add the Geelong game and they’re on top plus completely changing the composition of the six.

    Wouldn’t that have been embarrassing for Oakley, Samuel & co!

  5. Thanks for the links to the 1991 win over North Melbourne, Adam.
    Yes, we did lose 4 games by single-figure margins in 1993, but we also won 4 by a goal or less.
    Losing 7 out of 8 games in mid-to-late season didn’t help.
    This after losing 7 of our last 8 games in 1992.

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