Elimination Final: North Melbourne versus Essendon: Memories Worth Bottling

North Melbourne versus Essendon

Second Elimination Final

7.15pm, Saturday, 6 September

Melbourne Cricket Ground


Memories Worth Bottling


Somewhere in the back of my mind there’s a dusty, wooden shelf lined with old jars. Each contains a memory, a beautiful moment, and when needed – to get me through a tough time, peak hour traffic, work meeting, or any of life’s frustrations – I take one down, crack the lid and the contents carry me back to a better time and place, while gifting a needed dose of clarity, reassurance, inspiration, appreciation, or peace. When replenished, I replace the lid and return the jar to the shelf, and carry on with my day.


These memories are snapshots of my life; they tell my story. There’s John Holt’s running left foot goal on the run, final quarter of the 85 Elimination Final against Carlton at Waverley, when North ate up a seven goal half-time deficit. It was David and Goliath stuff. There are family Christmases and summers on the Warrnambool beach. Helping mum line up the cups and saucers for morning tea in the church foyer after Mass. Amen Corner at Augusta, followed by a night sleeping in the car. Driving home from a recent footy club reunion with mates I’ve known my whole life. And countless memories with Eloise: dancing the polka to the Bushwackers in the Tamworth Memorial Townhall; chasing the footy at Coburg oval; and during bedtime stories, when she rests her head on my shoulder, yawns and whispers, ‘Tired, Daddy’. I have so many reminding me of how fortunate I am and that I shouldn’t need reminding.


Saturday night’s match provided memories worthy of being bottled and shelved. It was one of those games that contained such skill and courage from both teams you’d need to watch it over and over to get your head around it. From a North point of view, I could talk about how refreshing and exhilarating youngster Ben Brown was, Drew’s last term, Gibbo’s goal on the end of a chain of blue and white handballs, or Wells’ four quarter effort.


But above all else, one decisive period will stay with me. In just over a minute of play during time-on in the third quarter, with Essendon leading by 9 points, North, a club that struggles for self-esteem, decided to honour itself and in doing so discovered belief comes from going where you haven’t been before.


Beaten early by Ryder and Bellchambers, Goldy is leading the resurgence after half-time. He leads Stanton, smaller and quicker, to the ball in the empty Essendon forward line. He parks and waits for support. Nicky Del, neat, composed and experienced, arrives and North try to clear, but are held up in Essendon’s centre half-forward area. Two walls of players face off. The Bombers try to burst through and head for goal to reclaim momentum, but the veteran, Spud, lays a big tackle and Cunners, Blacky and Wellsy, follow him in.


The ball is cleared to the Members’ wing, where Drew gathers and kicks low along the line towards Brown, whose three goals have given the match life. The ball beats him out of bounds.


Goldy arrives late for the thrown-in, but manages to reach up and palm to Cunners who gets a handball away as he is tackled. Atley scrambles a kick over a pack to half-forward where Goddard gathers. He handballs to his right, across centre half-forward, to Hibberd, who gives to Colyer who tries to cannonball Essendon out of danger. He is gang tackled by Gibson, McDonald and the limping Lindsay, and the ball spills free towards Heppell and Swallow who dive in. North’s captain pushes the ball forward. Steinberg, struggling in the finals heat, gathers, but handballs to nothing. Wellsy has been there all along and forces the ball further towards goal without taking clean possession. Essendon are being forced backward and Zaharakis handballs to Baguley who, just before being tackled, gives to Dempsey, on as sub. North are swarming now, sensing Essendon, so assured early in the match, are wilting. Dempsey is swamped by Turner, the AFL’s youngest player, at 18 years old. The ball spills free near the top of the goal square and Lindsay swoops. Wellsy’s still there, but he doesn’t need him. Lindsay goals, spreads his arms wide in triumph, screams at the night sky, and the destiny of this final is determined.


This is a memory worth bottling.



NORTH MELBOURNE       2.3  2.4    9.5   14.9 (93)                  
ESSENDON                        2.4  6.7  10.8  12.9 (81)         
North Melbourne: Brown 4, Thomas 3, Petrie 2, Dal Santo, Greenwood, Gibson, Ziebell, Cunnington
Essendon: Daniher 4, Colyer 2, Chapman 2, Goddard, Howlett, Bellchambers, Ryder
North Melbourne: Wells, Brown, Goldstein, Wright, Greenwood, Gibson, Cunnington, Thompson
Essendon: Heppell, Daniher, Colyer, Hurley



  1. Hey Andrew,
    It was a win for the ages.
    Which bar will you be in this Friday pre-match?

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Love your passion and emotion , Andrew as supporters we grab different moments and recollections as the key 1 . Josh Donohue crumb and goal was mine on the week end re the mighty redlegs beating the power reserves

  3. I loved Sam Wright’s intercept mark at half back.
    Nothing too difficult about it, but it led to a goal.
    And away we went…

  4. Thanks Andrew, really enjoyed the read.

    That passage of play started with Goldy beating Stanton to the loose ball Right In Front Of Me. I was too shocked to even heckle Stanton. It was for sure a memorable minute or so. Between the Sam Wright intercept that started it and that goal, the moment where I was confident that we’d get it done was the Sam Gibson goal on the end of a chain of handballs (which started with the Atley spoil on Heppell, also Right In Front Of Me). Easy to say now that the capper on a 5-goal burst that gets you back within 3 is the “OK, we’re good” moment, but it was a quarter and a half to go.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow night.

  5. Andrew Starkie says


    let’s hope Nth aren’t satisfied with their efforts and go off the boil. I sense a jovial attitude at Arden St this week that concerns me. Geelong has exposed our inferiority complex like no other team in recent years, so if Nth aren’t on their games we wil be whacked. The Cats are beatable, therefore let’s hope the Roos are up.

    Will try to get to the Stumps Bar, next to the Blazer Bar pre-game. Not sure what time the leave pass starts tonight.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Andrew. Reckon you would have bottled an even better memory tonight.

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