Excitement gives way to disappointment

Friday and I’m a mixture of emotions. Excited, nervous, full of anticipation. It is a foreign feeling, that’s for sure. And it shouldn’t be. Why oh why does the AFL hate us? Why do we receive dead-rubber Sunday evening games all the time? Why do we never get full exposure on national television? We get one Friday night game a year it seems. One. Less than Adelaide, on par with Fremantle, Sydney and Port Adelaide. Our one Friday night game last year resulted in a pulsating 29 point win over Carlton, with Lindsay Thomas lighting Etihad Stadium on fire with seven goals. It was one of the best individual performances of the year, and a great upset by the team. So when it came to making the 2011 fixture at the end of last season, why did the AFL not look back at that performance and give us at least three prime time matches? Answer me that Andrew Demetriou and Gillon McLachlan.

I am mostly excited. My boys on TV, all around Australia. Finally everyone could see what the fuss is about with the likes of Keiran Harper, Andrew Swallow and Jack Ziebell. All I wanted from North was a spirited showing. Yes, we got thumped by Collingwood (twice) and Geelong, but you don’t look at Carlton and think ‘top four team’. They’re just Carlton, the team you love to beat the most (behind Essendon in my case). No matter where the Blues are on the ladder, the Roos generally put up a good fight against them (Carlton’s wooden spoon era definitely helped that record!) I text mum while I’m at school, telling her she should cook up my favourite meal to celebrate this rare occasion. Risotto. I just love it. Mum hates cooking it though because it is such a long, arduous meal to cook. She understands the circumstances though and makes good on my wishes, something my taste buds thank me for later on. It is such a long wait between 7:40pm, the start of the game, and 8:30, the delayed coverage on Channel Seven.

We need a win to be in the eight. We haven’t been there since the start of 2009. Jamie Macmillan is a late out for Gavin Urquhart. More speed doesn’t hurt.

It is tight early. Tackles galore. Andrew Swallow is playing as if he’s against Adelaide in Round 11. Carlton miss two early shots, but Eddie Betts pops up to convert the first, fresh off a bag of eight the week before. Carlton have all the play in their forward half, but the scores still stay in single figures thank God. Carlton were inaccurate which helped our cause, and from a kick-in, they cut through the middle like a swathe, Aaron Edwards spearing it onto the chest of Cameron Pedersen who ran into an open goal. North, with the help of Swallow, started dominating the centre clearances. Cameron Richardson’s pass to a diving Leigh Adams set up their second goal, then Boomer got on the end of a very unselfish pass from Ben Cunnington inside 50. Ben-10’s head is screwed on right. One way to stay in the team is to give off easy goals to the skipper. We suddenly led by 10 points going into quarter time. Surprising.

Bryce Gibbs, the ultimate seagull in footy, kicked two quick goals to start the second quarter, one from smothering Ziebell’s kick and goaling from the result, the next from an uncontested mark and open goal. Despite trailing by eight, the Roos fought back again. Pedersen got his second goal from the goalsquare after Daniel Wells streamed forward to mark uncontested before giving it off to the rookie. Petrie emulated Andrew Walker’s effort last week with a massive screamer at half forward before slotting the major to restore North’s lead. Then, in the most important play of the first half, we stood up. Cunnington took possession of the ball on the wing, broke through a Brock McLean-tackle effortlessly before a neat pass to Edwards saw the Samoan slot the goal to put us 12 points ahead. Relaxed.

Then anger. Frustration. With Channel Seven promoting a one-on-one interview with Swallow, I had to put up with their useless channel going blank for over six minutes at half time, right where the interview would’ve been taking place. Screw you Channel Seven, can’t do anything right.

Conveniently, it came back for Bruce and co. to get their ugly heads back on the screen. The third quarter was started with Matthew Kreuzer snapping his first over his shoulder in the goal square before Walker and Gibbs both saluted with majors. Judd was caught holding the ball for the second time, and Swallow copped Jay-Z’s knee right in the scone. He left the field, dazed and confused. What happened to the concussion rule? It seems to have been swept under the carpet after the Jack Riewoldt debacle in Round 2. No one noticed Spitta sneak back onto the field however, stealthily running all the way to the goal square where he marked a long Scott McMahon ball. He was hit hard by Bret Thornton, hitting his head on the turf and only making matters worse for him. He managed to drag himself up off the turf and put through his first, and scores were level at the last break. Nervous.

I was so tempted to check the final results on the internet, but I held back. I had an uneasy feeling that Carlton would run all over us. Nick Duigan put his body on the line with a courageous mark going back into the path of Petrie, and it ended in a goal to Walker. They deserved that one. Harper’s footy smarts came to the fore with a measured pass to Petrie, who missed, but he got onto the end of another one minutes later, kicking it out of mid-air in the goal square for his second, and scores were level again. We needed the win so badly. Losing wasn’t an option. Carlton needed it too unfortunately. Chris Judd, who really should’ve been at home fathering his new Oscar, marked and kicked a captains goal from outside 50, before Thornton picked a loose ball up off his bootlaces in the goal square to put it beyond doubt. Swallow was tackled high, and while he waited for the umpire to blew his whistle, he was dumbfounded find out that he had been pinged for lying on top of the ball in anticipation of a free kick. Carlton worked it forward, goal to Jeff Garlett, then Gibbs minutes later. Down by over four goals, and we had lost. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would though. Just disappointment. Not sorrow or anger. They tried their best, and should’ve been blown away given their shocking field kicking. Had we played at our best, like we did against Essendon and the Bulldogs this year, we would’ve pumped them. Cunnington snapped a late goal in what was probably his most impressive game of his career, but it was all over when Lachie Hansen fulfilled his obligations of disappointing me at least once in a game with a failed shot at goal in the final minutes.


North Melbourne 3.2—6.2—7.6—9.8.62

Carlton 1.4—3.9—6.12—11.14.80


North Melbourne-Pedersen 2, Petrie 2, Edwards, Adams, Cunnington, Swallow, Harvey

Carlton-Gibbs 4, Walker 2, Thornton, Judd, Betts, Garlett, Kreuzer


North Melbourne-Swallow, Ziebell, Goldstein, Cunnington, Thompson, Pedersen

Carlton-Murphy, Yarran, Gibbs, Scotland, Simpson, Judd, Henderson, Ellard


41,332 at Etihad Stadium


3: Andrew Swallow (NM)

2: Marc Murphy (C)

1: Chris Yarran (C)


About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.


  1. John Butler says

    Nice work Josh

    Surprised you didn’t play Thomas. Would have been worth some psychological points at least after last year.

    Outside the top 5 teams I reckon North have been going about as well as anyone in the last couple of months. It’s just unfortunate the only time most people have got to see them is the shockers against Collingwood.

  2. smokie88 says

    Even at the risk of raking over old coals i will say it once more: the AFL’s fixturing
    of North melbourne this season has been a disgrace. One solitary Friday night
    match? For a team whch finished ninth last season?

    J B,
    Thomas does not belong in the senior team.
    I will not expand any further in a public forum.

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says


    your frustration is understandable. Find it hard to stick with C7 delayed games. Hope they pick up their game next year.

    North are only a couple of players away from being a really good side. An attacking tall defender and another strong key forward to give Petrie a hand would be invaluable.

  4. A specially good effort considering that Chris Judd was obviously battling to stay awake. The contribution he was able to make was a triumph of focus, will and muscle-memory, most likely in ascending order.

  5. Thanks for the passion, Josh. Well expressed under trying circumstances.
    You Eastern Staters are a bit precious about your 50 minute delay. I listen to the start of Friday night games on my way home from work. They START at 10.30 your time on C7 over here after the game has finished. I cook dinner listening to half time on ABC radio. If its interesting I turn the radio off, then the Avenging Eagle and I watch Master Chef and Silent Witness and reconnect with the game about 10pm (midnight for you). Watch the second half and stagger off to bed at midnight.
    You have it good over there!! We get our revenge with European sport – don’t have to stay up past midnight over here to cheer Cadel and Wimbeldon.

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    very disappointed, Josh. We will rue near misses at end of year. Again.

    I thought we were good things at halft time.

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