Geelong v North Melbourne

So far in this underwhelming NAB Challenge campaign, I am yet to see North Melbourne play, given their scheduled games being in Ballarat and Launceston. A practice game against Geelong at the Cattery seems my only chance to see the team in a semi-competitive hitout before Round 1. I spend the whole Friday debating to myself whether it’s worth making the trek to see a game not worth premiership points. With a live stream available online and cold weather outside, I set myself for a night on the couch. But in a moment of inspiration, I drag myself up and to the train station.

At Southern Cross, I note that I need to find platform 15. Not really knowing where that is, I ask a metro officer for directions. “In between 14 and 16 mate,” he helpfully points out. The place is crawling with teenagers on their way to the Goodlife festival at Flemington. Clothes must be on the outer for females today. I am finally pointed in the right direction, and have a seat on a busy v-line train.

It’s a slow journey to Werribee, almost like Scott McMahon or Brad McKenzie at full pace. But soon after, it’s like Shaun Atley or Aaron Mullett are driving the train, and we reach Geelong unbelievably fast. Simonds Stadium is an amazing place. You can almost smell the history over the scent of the baked spuds. The place is packed for a practice match, I find a seat in the Jack Jennings pavilion, and the people around me seem like good, non-annoying folk. That is, until a married couple with three young children sit next to me. The youngest kid is full of questions. “Dad, why did he kick the ball? Why? Dad, how come he kicked the ball just then? Dad? How come he kicked the ball?” I scan the place for a new seat.

North Melbourne run out first, with the ground announcer unusually reading out each player from the squad for both teams. Maybe this is the norm for games in Geelong. The Cats don’t look as menacing without Chapman, Podsiadly and Hunt. They warm up right in front of me. Stevie J tries impossible shots at goal from the boundary, while Hamish McIntosh runs around with a huge grin on his face. It warms the heart. Geelong start well, kicking goals through Mitch Duncan and George Horlin-Smith, before North reply. It’s a stagnant first quarter, with plenty of disposal errors. Nick Dal Santo snaps a classy goal just before quarter time.

The second quarter sees the Roos get on top of the game. They boot five goals, however the Cats kick four of their own. Tom Hawkins looks dangerous, while Mathew Stokes is continuing his fine form from 2013. Ben Cunnington is in everything. He is easily the best user of the ball by hand in the competition. Todd Goldstein and Daniel Currie are listless against their counterparts in McIntosh and Dawson Simpson. Big H kicks a goal, and everyone applauds. Scores are level at half time. With the aroma of hot chips wafting towards me from the aforementioned family beside me, I decide to look for some food. I am hungry, given I skipped lunch after setting the smoke alarm off while cooking breakfast. I walk past Luke McDonald on my way to the toilet, quickly becoming my favourite player with 0 games to his name. Fellow Almanacker and Geelong fanatic Susie Giese agrees to meet up, and we settle down to watch the second half after a brief catch-up.

The tight contest continues in the third quarter, with both sides kicking two goals each. Drew Petrie starts to get on top of Harry Taylor, while a few North youngsters are putting their hands up for Round 1, namely Brad McKenzie, Mason Wood and Sam Wright. The Geelong supporters express their annoyance at the lack of foot skills, while Lindsay Thomas draws the ire of many for his over-exaggerated play in a practice game. It’s almost like he doesn’t want to play Round 1.

But with Thomas, you take the good with the bad. He kicks a sensational goal on the run in the last quarter to give North some breathing space. The Cats continue to come, however you can tell both sides aren’t that hell-bent on victory. Ask the supporters though. They want Roo blood. Cunnington continues to stand tall, Jack Ziebell lifts a gear, then comes to the bench for a rest and gives kids on the boundary high fives. I’m jealous. A superb kick from Ryan Bastinac sets up McKenzie, who dawdles in and drills his second, sealing the win. The siren sounds not long after, with the Scott brothers apparently agreeing to call the match off before injury strikes. I’m happy. We’ve notched a win after being incredibly disappointing against the Blues and Hawks. We now have some momentum going into the real stuff. I bid farewell to Susie, and walk back for my train.

Back at Southern Cross, I set my eyes on the wonderful sight of Etihad Stadium at night. I’ll be back here in a couple of weeks, when the real stuff gets underway. And I can’t wait. Bring it on.

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. Crio and Cowshedend were at the Goodlife Festival at Flemington this afternoon.
    Good to see your Kangas rewarded you for your devotion, Josh.

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