Divided Attention Ends Well

North Melbourne versus Geelong


The baby’s due today and I’m at the footy.  Now, that’s a sentence I never expected to write!


Males readers are thinking: gutsy effort mate, but you might pay for it down the track.

Female readers: selfish so-and-so, hope you pay for it down the track.


The baby is yet to turn and head for home, and Linda, quite understandably, is getting a bit tetchy and wanting a bit of me time with a block of chocolate.  So, she’s given me the green light.  My mobile’s on vibrate and I’ve promised to check it regularly.


I trot off to Etihad at the weird time of late Sunday arvo (footy should signify the end of the working week, not the start, but that’s modern day footy), looking for some calm before the storm time myself and hoping for a good showing against the reigning premiers.


I bump into North mates, Sean and Leah, and we find a seat top deck, southern end.  There’s a smallish crowd in, due largely to the scheduling which has probably kept families away with Term 2 starting tomorrow, and the roof is closed, shutting out a beautiful Autumnal evening, and keeping a flat atmosphere in.


As the teams emerge, we agree for North to make advances this season, we need to beat top 4 teams.  Not only for our finals chances, but to build long lost belief.  We haven’t defeated the Cats since rd 5 2007, the fateful match that turned around their history.  Today/tonight carries a fair bit of importance.


We start well: full of run and carry, plenty of rapid handball and pinpoint passing.  Sean and I agree our skills have definitely improved this year.  Boomer, Wells and Bastinac are everywhere and don’t appear to have opponents.  Boomer is happy Lingy has retired to the commentary box.


The Cats, possibly due to their smash-em-up win against Hawthorn last week, look slow and tired.  They lack intensity around stoppages and Swallow and Anthony are keeping Selwood and Bartel quiet.


We lead by 20 points at quarter-time.  My companions and I are impressed, but expect Geelong to get going.


Mobile phone check: nothing.


The Cats kick quick goals after the resumption and the challenge is laid.  Usually in this position, we stop running and resort to a defensive, high possession game, naturally leading to turnovers and opposition goals.


Thankfully, this doesn’t happen.  Ziebell, in his first game of the year, bullocks hard at stoppages.  Thomas cleans up Mackie and Boomer and others continue to run, delivering quickly and efficiently through the middle.  Edwards is towelling Lonergan, who Leah reveals is his cousin, which doesn’t stop her giving him a serve.


We’ve answered the challenge for now and extended the lead by a point by half-time.


Mobile phone check: nothing.


The coach sends the boys out early after half-time, sending the message to his brother that North mean business.  And they do.


The third quarter is the best we’ve produced in a long time.  The bold running, give-and-go game plan continues and North dominate all over the ground.  Every time we go forward, we threaten to score.  Taylor is keeping Drew quiet, however, Edwards and Ziebell kick two each.


For the Cats, only Pods looks dangerous.  Chappy and Stevie J have hardly been near the ball, the latter stitched up by Wright, and Hawkins, so good last week, has been kept quiet by Luke Delaney, also playing his first game for the year, at his brothers’ expense.


We lead by 6 goals at the final change and the sleepy crowd have woken, sensing an upset.  Sean, Leah and I are giggling like little children, yet have supported North for too long to consider victory a certainty.


Too excited, forget to check mobile.


In a desperate move, Stevie J starts the final term on the ball.  Selwood, Bartel and substitute, Horlin-Smith, who should be playing with the Dees with a name like that, swing momentum for the Cats.  J Pod kicks his fifth, and Hawkins scores three for the term.  But it’s all junk time.


Bastinac kicks his fourth, and Ziebell does the same with a magnificent set shot from the boundary. North are home and we celebrate.  Margin, 17 points.


We all know one good win doesn’t make a season.  But, the confidence, skill and belief shown today/tonight by our team should give all Northerners a warm, fuzzy feeling.  We may have  arrived.  Finally.


Mobile phone check: text message: ‘Get more choccy on the way home plse’.



  1. Stephen Cooke says

    Nice work, by your good self and your boys. I’m not happy with the twilight games either – mummy making dinner leaves daddy alone with the boy, and he’s not happy that he can’t watch Thomas! Let’s storm Demetriou in his ivory tower and hope he sees sense – 9 games all at 2pm on a Saturday arvo.

  2. Andrew – the Roos gave the Cats a nice big wake up call. Be 5 percent off your game and anyone can knock you off. Well done, the Roo boys were simply too good and too hungry. Shame we don’t play the Roos again this season in the home and away.

  3. Good win, Andrew and congratulations (on win and expected baby).
    Re. the baby, not all women would be thinking as you have supposed. Have attended the footy, heavily pregnant, to watch my beloved Cats – a long time ago – when I witnessed a very young and slim Billy Brownless play his first senior game.
    In a circuitous sort of synchronicity, I trotted off to Etihad on Sunday with a North supporting Sean too (a friend of my daughter’s – the now grown up woman I was pregnant with all those years ago) and, having a beer before the game, I declared that North would win – wasn’t being compliant or “nice” about this – I completely believed it. Turns out, Sean had a dream that the Kangas would beat the Cats by 22 points. If punters had been aware of his psychic skills, Sean would have been stalked.

    All the best for the season and the new baby.

  4. Pamela Sherpa says

    Seems like an omen that North won for you in the week that the baby is due Andrew.

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Thanks for your wishes everyone. jen, the female readers bit was a bit of a gag. Pam, Bombers going well.

  6. Pamela Sherpa says

    Big test this when we play CARLTON on Sat, followed by Pies on Anzac day.

  7. Peter Flynn says

    Good luck to you and the lovely Starks.

  8. Sending you to the footy near the due date?!
    That’s what i call a mellow mommy! haha
    goodluck with everything :)

  9. Marlo Drake says

    Starks, it’s a match made in heaven if the lovely Linda “gets” your “footy time”! Geelong were flat as the atmosphere in the ground and North were as oppressive! Surely the wee one will bear the name Shimma or Harvs or Shannon. Love your work.

Leave a Comment