Finals Week 3 – West Coast v North Melbourne: Brickbat

“I used to want to plant bombs, at the Last Night of The Proms”

My favourite Billy Bragg song is a track from his 2006 album “William Bloke”. A tune called “Brickbat”, it is essentially a love song; it briefly tells the story of how fatherhood and domesticity supplanted Billy’s red-ragging tendencies. I believe I like the song because I identify so strongly with it. The necessity to earn a quid and provide has consigned my flag-waving, slogan-chanting days of partcipating in wild-cat strikes to the past. Also behind me now, are the more extreme habits I once cultivated in support of the Kangaroos. Billy Bragg has spoken in interviews of the effect the song has on him.

“The past is always knocking incessant, Trying to break through into the present”

There was a time in my life when the result of a North Melbourne match would affect my mood for days. A win would see me buoyant, content with my place in the world. But a defeat would plunge me into the depths of despair, stewing over the result, countenance as black as thunder. This ridiculous state of affairs began when I was a school-boy (a North loss on a Saturday and I would spend Sunday dreading Monday morning) and continued into my 20’s (a North win and the party might never stop). It was drop-of-the-hat stuff for me to engage in a petty argument – or more – over the relative merits of my football team. But, thankfully in my case, one’s priorities change.

“I steal a kiss from you in the supermarket, I walk you down the aisle, you fill my basket”

I watched the Preliminary Final with my wife in a beach-house in Apollo Bay. After twenty-one years of marriage, she can still be shocked at the person I become when I am watching North on the television. And, to my shame, I can shock even myself sometimes. The language which spills forth is unbecoming to say the least. That my wife hears it only makes it more shameful. It is almost as if the sanctity of a private space, where inhibitions are relaxed, can release something primal within me – something that, by and large, I put behind me when I married and had kids. But my sons laugh aloud at the passion I display while watching a match. I still find it to be a release. The mercy is that now I can compartmentalise that irrationality.

“The sun came up, the trees began to sing, The light shone in on everything”

During the match, the coaches and players were not spared my wrath-filled abuse, nor were the umpires. Especially the umpires. There was a time when I would have railed against the AFL about the conspiracy they had concocted to defeat my team. But no sooner had the game ended and we switched off the tv than I was at peace with the world once more. Nowadays there are no post-loss bad mood hangovers. It took me a while, but I learnt, even during football season, that there is so much more to life.

“I stayed in bed alone uncertain, Then I met you, You drew the curtain”

The sun rose and the morning was glorious. A walk along the foreshore beckoned. North had been beaten by a better team in Perth the previous night. There is always next season to look toward, in the lead up to which hope will spring eternal.

(All lyrics in italics from the Billy Bragg song “Brickbat”, 2006).




WEST COAST:   0.2  3.8  8.14  10.20.(80)
NORTH MELBOURNE:  3.4  4.7  5.11  7.13.(55)


West Coast: Kennedy 2, Shuey 2, Priddis, Darling, Sheed, Wellingham, LeCras, Hill.

North Melbourne: Higgins 2, Gibson, Brown, Ziebell, Garner, Turner.


Umpires: Chamberlain, Margetts, Meredith.


Crowd: 43,080 at Subiaco Oval.



About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Michael Crawford says

    And some people used to get so upset that they would punch a hole in the wall! And their team wasn’t even playing!

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice one Smokie. Loved the link to Billy Bragg. It’s human to get lost in the moment especially in a big final. Don’t be to hard on yourself mate. If Ben Brown and Waite take those grabs and the 50-50s went your way…If….hate that word.

  3. Still Waiting for the Great Leap Forward?

  4. Great reflections Smokie. I love Billy Bragg. I reckon Talking to the Taxman is one of the definitive 80s albums.

    As PD says here, nothing wrong with ahem expressing yourself as long as you can still enjoy the next day for what it may bring.


  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    When your world falls apart
    Some things stay in place
    Levi Greenwood…

    Dammit, I’ll just go with the Lindsay Thomas Goalhanger reference instead. Thanks Smokie

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Bit like you, SMoke, when the siren sounded, i shrugged and moved on. 4-5 goals sort of a GF is probably where we are at. We missed too many set shots and got rolled by the umps – happens to everyone in the west – but once they got going, the Eagles were a bit too good. They’re a chance tomw. 2016 is North’s last chance with this list. One missing ingredient on Saty night: an outside runner. Would Wells have made the difference? Dangerfield?

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