Coming around

At our wedding, 10 years and a bit ago, the blushing bride joked that I had a choice: she would take either my surname or my football team. Silly thing to joke about, really. She still has her own surname, and for the best part of this century has half-heartedly gone along with the idea that she’s technically, officially, a Kangas supporter. She’s a Hobart girl who went to Glenorchy games at North Hobart oval with her grandad, and thanks to the Glenorchy Hudsons, her whole (sizeable) family are mad Hawks people. She doesn’t care much for footy really, but has a standing promise to the kids that she’ll come with us to one game every season.

And so on Saturday we settle in for a rare evening in front of the footy on TV, well aware of the misery Collingwood have visited on us in the last few years.

But North have been travelling pretty well the last few weeks, and Collingwood are missing Swan, Goldsack and at the last minute Toovey, so we dare to hope.

They kick the first couple. She says “and so it begins”, and wanders off to the study to see whether iView has something a bit more watchable to offer.

Before long, Collingwood are up by 4. To my mind, they have looked sharp and opportunistic without dominating general play, so my inner optimist wants to think that all is not lost for a competitive effort from the boys.

Then we kick a couple, and a couple more. They’ve all been the sort of well structured goals that North are set up to kick, not scrounged from flukey broken plays. They’ve righted the ship, and they’re sticking with The Game Plan.

Operation Please Win At Least One Quarter is a success.

The kids are getting tired and ratbaggy, so they’re sent to bed early in the second, as Collingwood hit the front again. They don’t need to see this.

But — and this shouldn’t be a surprise by now, North have done it more than once this year — the Kangas steel themselves and get a run on. A desperate Petrie contest on the wing sets up a goal. A booming inside-50 by Ziebell from a centre clearance finds Hansen who monsters Shaw for a contested mark. And when Tarrant picks off a Wellingham pass in the goalsquare it’s pretty clear: the Pies are rattled. We’ve won another quarter, this time convincingly. When we’ve lost badly in the last two or three years, I’ve been convinced that the tale of the game has been told at the end of the second quarter. I’m noticing the same when we’ve been winning lately.

Over in the study, iView hasn’t delivered; she’s back on the couch, bored, channel-surfing her way through half time, but pleasantly surprised that things are going OK. Inwardly, I’m jumping out of my skin that this might be yet another improbable, season-defining win. How many season-defining wins can you have in one year?

Early in the third, Number One Son calls out that he’s finished reading comics and we can have the iPad back. His mum has a better idea. “Is your brother awake or asleep?” Asleep. “OK, would you like to watch the rest of the game? Don’t say a word, it will be our secret.” He’s beaming, at the score and at his good fortune. “But this counts as my game this year. I’m not going to watch bloody Fremantle.” Fair enough, the boy and I both reckon.

In the second half, Collingwood are never in it. They still look rattled. North are controlling the tempo, choosing when to run. It’s low scoring, without being dour. A 5 goal margin, winning every quarter. At the final siren, the boy does a lap of the loungeroom exchanging high fives. He confides that he had his lucky undies on, so the win shouldn’t have been any surprise.

As they sing the song in the rooms, the blushing bride turns to me. “Wanna know a secret? I’m starting to like North Melbourne. I like Wellsy. And I like their coach. Seems like a down to earth, normal, decent bloke.” The unspoken comparison is clear.

Deep down, I know that this North side is a year or two away from its best, and probably still a level below the genuine top sides at their best. But no matter what happens, it’s been a fun season already.


  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Get on board or get out of the way!!

    Go you Roo boys!!

Leave a Comment