Don’t mention the marshmallow war

North Melbourne a Essendon
1.10pm, Sunday, 19 April
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

By Mark Wallace

It was just like any other run-of-the-mill weekend day in our seaside hamlet on the Bellarine Peninsula. Nothin’ special. Picked up the papers, had the usual Sunday morning breakfast — poached eggs on sourdough toast. Stacey prefers it with a generous scrape of Vegemite. Frankly, I reckon she’s mad — ruins the flavour of the fresh, free-range eggs we get from Bernie and Gen from their farm in nearby Mannerim. Still, each to their own, I s’pose.

Quietly, I packed my backpack. Two roast-lamb rolls, a packet of chips, some cold drinks, a ballpoint pen, flannelette shirt for me, Ripcurl hoodie for Darcy.

“I’m just going out for a while, Stace”, I casually called over my shoulder, the boy in tow.

“OK, seeya later.”

No questions. None needed.

You see, North were playing Essendon. A crucial Round-4 showdown. Crunch game. Tradition rivals. But even more importantly, the local derby. No, not the inner Melbourne-type local derby. The BIG local derby. The inter-household, potentially fatal, husband-and-wife variety.

We’ve been together 24 years. In the beginning we actually even went to games together. North won some, the Dons won others. Didn’t matter, though. We still went home happy. In love. Laughing, holding hands …

These days things are different. That first flush of infatuation is long gone and now even an innocent “good morning” smile the day after our household derby is likely to be met with a terse, “Get that stupid grin off your face”.

It started going pear-shaped the day of the infamous Marshmallow Final in ’98. I bought the tickets … “You’ll be sitting with us in the North area – I hope you don’t mind”. Big mistake! A string of dubious frees to the Dons led to a blue in our area, with the wife at the centre of it. She almost threw one particularly loaded and whingeing elderly North lady over the balcony of the Great Southern Stand.

Three hours, several thousand demented Roos fans and about 50,000 flung marshmallows later, Stacey cracked. Without a congratulatory peck on the cheek or even a wave, she departed, Darcy in hand, explaining to the bewildered four-year-old lad that, “Yes, I do hate all North fans – but not you, darling”.

I went to the pub.

So, in our household, this 2009 battle, like so many before it, didn’t exist. Not mentioned at all leading up to the game, nor broached afterwards. I couldn’t discuss North’s tactics of chipping the ball around in an attempt to slow down the Bombers’ speedsters, nor the fact it made for a slightly dull spectacle, though it did make for an intriguing contest.

I didn’t even tell her about Andrew Lovett’s brilliant solo goal in the first quarter, grabbing the ball in the middle from a centre bounce, weaving around several North defenders, taking a couple of bounces and coolly slotting it from fifty, though in better circumstances I’m sure she would have enjoyed hearing it.

Nor was it mentioned that Boomer Harvey finally found some form or that David Hale was a tower of strength in the forward line, with four goals, or how Spud Firrito was instrumental in getting us over the line with some inspiring work in and under the packs in a desperate last quarter.

There was certainly no way I was going to rave about the mighty Jay Z, who has sublime skills and toughness for such a young man, nor the impressive debut of Ben Warren, who surely has got Corey Jones’ spot in the team wrapped up for the time being. I would have just been asking for trouble.

And despite how the interest in the incident in which Daniel Pratt become the first player to be pinged under the new rushing behinds rule (handing an easy goal to Matthew Lloyd), I would rather become coach of Richmond that even think about discussing that particular piece of trivia with The Good Woman. It would have been sheer madness, I tell you.

So, nothing was said. Just came home, left the scarves in the car and walked in the door like we’d just got back from a stroll in the park. A smile from Stace (slightly forced, I’m sure) and a piping hot serve of chicken enchiladas in the oven.

Relieved, I hoed into my meal and smiled contentedly to myself in the knowledge that we’d not only managed to avoid the troubles that the local derby can bring, but we’d also managed to knock off the bloody Bombers in the process.

“Get that stupid grin off your face”.

I did the washing up.

North Melbourne 3.3  5.5  9.7  10.9 (69)
Essendon       1.3  3.7  5.11  7.15 (57)

North Melbourne: Hale 4, Harvey 3, Ziebell, Petrie, McIntosh
Essendon: Lloyd 3, Winderlich, Stanton, Lovett, McPhee

North Melbourne: Harvey, Hale, Firrito, Ziebell, Hansen, Pratt
Essendon: Stanton, Zaharakis, Lloyd, Davey

Crowd: 33,842 at Docklands

Malarkey votes: Harvey (NM) 3, Hale (NM) 2, Firrito (NM) 1.


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    Mixed marriages were never meant to be easy. Good to see you both remaining fiercely loyal to your clubs.

  2. How’d you manage to get the little tacker to follow North?

  3. Daryl Sharpen says

    Gutsy stuff, Wal!
    The hoeing down of the enchiladas, that is!

  4. pauldaffey says

    Sharpo, you trickster! I had no idea of the idea of the identity of the cliche king on the radio on Saturday. The more correspondence from the ratbag recesses of Hobart, the better. Daff

  5. im only 17 and from now i know there’s NO WAY im marrying someone that doesnt go for Collingwood!
    Even if i did we’d be divorced by round 3!

  6. johnharms says


    For some reason it reminds me of this Carlton-loving woman whose marriage was on the rocks. Her husband says to her, “You love Carlton more than you love me.” And she says, ‘I knew you didn’t understand me: I love Collingwood more than I love you.”


  7. Which reminds me of the man who loved his footy stats so much his wife said to him “You love your footy so much, you forget all about me. I bet you don’t even know our wedding date.” And he says “How can you insult me like that? Of course I remember our wedding date! That was they day that Fitzroy came from 38 points behind to beat North Melbourne…”

  8. Squeezebox says

    Two months after the fact (of posting the article) and finally we’re addressing this time-old dilemma of husband v wife and team v team. Today I’m trying to get over the Laidley business, but despite that I’ll try to make some sense of it.
    To Pamela… Thanks – we do our best.
    Sharpen… Coming from the Apple Isle your definition of families and the like is a little broader than us on the mainland, I suppose, so eat what you feel like, Cob.
    Danielle… 17 and already so blinkered. I admire your beautiful naivety, but Collingwood is not the answer. Look outside the box, for your own sake.
    And Keldar… Interesting question. My wife is Catholic, I’m not. I agreed to get married in a Catholic church and allow the boy to be reared by that particular faith under the condition that he barrack for North. Some religions are more important that others living in Victoria.

    Regards, Squeezebox

  9. Pamela Sherpa says

    Squeezebox, the Laidley business didn’t even make the news in NSW. I watched two lots- ABC and CH7 and not a mention of it.

  10. Wally, seems you’re a slow burner. Better a late reaction than no reaction at all!
    PS. North and Richmond are historically the Catholic clubs. By barracking for North, you’d gone only so far in your assimilation into the Mick tribe. Marrying your wife was the final (admittedly major) step in your assimilation.

  11. Squeezy, having a similar issue in our house at moment. getting married in a month and fiancee has said she’ll change her surname or footy team, but not both.

    She’s becoming a Gibbo on the condition that all kids become bombers (my team.)

    the plan is that if the rest of the family barrack for my team, she’ll support them eventually????

  12. pauldaffey says


  13. Pamela Sherpa says

    Good on you Gibbo -lay down the football law. GO BOMBERS!

  14. Squeezebox says

    Squeezy, indeed!
    Gibbo, depends who the good lady barracks for currently.
    If’s she’s Collingwood, Carlton, or God forbid, Richmond the less of ’em the better. However if it’s North, leave the poor girl be – we need all the supporters we can get!
    Daff… Saw a show by another renowned Mick tonight at the Potato Shed in Drysdale. Damian Callinan doing his Spanuts piece. Hysterically funny. Touring round the country at the moment. Would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh.


  15. Squeezebox says

    That would be ‘Spaznuts’, actually.

  16. Squeezy.

    She’s a tiger.

    A further problem has arisen. She has just reminded me that we own an apartment in Richmond, 200m from the ‘G.

    I’m still holding firm.

  17. pauldaffey says


    I, too, recommend Spaznuts as a fantastic show. It’s very funny, but it’s also very honest. It’s art from the right place, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious. Even though Damian has been an actor and comedian for many years, I still think of him as the winner of the VAFA under-19 best-and-fairest medal while playing as a ruck-rover with Old Paradians. It’s a shame for footy that he decided thereafter that he preferred to poonce around doing his 1980s dances (which were also very entertaining).

  18. John Sandy says


    8 years into a mixed marriage I can understand where you are coming from and probably should take some of your advice and pretend the derby doesn’t really exist. We had a pre baby agreement, boy Collingwood, girl Carlton, we have ended up with 2 girls and a boy so I suppose in years to come we will at least be able to share the joy or diappointment with the kids.

    John (WPA fan)

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