Round 5 – Fremantle v North Melbourne: I quit.

 

We’re five rounds into the 2017 season and I am ready to hang up the boots.

I went out on Saturday night, and came home to watch the replay against Fremantle, but in all honesty I didn’t need to watch the game to know what happened.

North burst out the blocks early, and a solid first half puts them four to five goals in front. A good lead but just enough to let a side back in. Give our opposition the third quarter to crawl back into the game and rob us of the victory once again.

I’ve been around long enough to know exactly how it works. Just last year I revisited 2013, a.k.a. the season of hell, and now it seems like de ja vu has hit North Melbourne supporters like a steam train.

We should be 3-2 and instead we are 0-5. The best 0-5 side in a long time? Maybe. However, effort counts for nothing when it comes to numbers and those numbers are all that matters come season’s end.

The losses haven’t come against weak sides either. Four 2016 finalists and a Freo side on the rise in Perth – none of them were ever going to be an easy task.

Despite the initial anger and heartbreak, I’ve realised the only way we have any chance of getting through 2017 is to focus heavily on the positives and keep reminding ourselves that it’s going to be okay. In saying that, I’m gutted. I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the heart repeatedly and it’s only April. I am desperate for a cure and this seems to be my only option at the moment.

Once again, let’s talk about the kids.

Mason Wood’s return to football was an exciting one. There were expectations on him to bring some of 2016 back into the lineup and he did just that, proving he’ll be a fine player of the future. I am obsessing over the Dumont/Turner/Garner trio. They are on fire from week to week and are making the most of their game time.

Also, you can just about lock in Taylor Garner for mark of the year – if it doesn’t win it’ll come bloody close. Ed Vickers-Willis was impressive on debut and Ben Brown’s enjoying being the #1 target up forward.

Jy Simpkin, though, is the one I want to talk about – both on and off field. He just amazes me every week through his efforts and his determination. While he’s been playing great footy, it’s his off field movements that we need to focus on. A contract extension until the end of 2020: in case you had a slight doubt over this playing group, and the empire we are building then you can probably let that leave your mind.

The other player we need to discuss is Pick 105. When North threw Marley Williams a lifeline at the end of 2016, he vowed to give his all to his career and the club, and he’s living up to his promise. A hard worker, giving 110% effort every week and he’s reaping the rewards. For what he may lack in skill, he makes up in effort and he has just been brilliant. A fresh start and he’s worked hard to turn his game around. Kudos to him.

Now back to North Melbourne in 2017.

The most frustrating thing of all is that no one actually expected us to be this good.

Most experts predicted our fall and a bottom four finish; however, the only thing backing up their opinions is the win loss ratio. North are certainly playing better than majority of sides outside the eight, but just aren’t getting enough reward for effort. You could also argue that we’re playing better football than when we were winning games in 2016 – just something to think about.

Something else we need to think about is the harsh reality of where this season is going.

Amongst all the positivity and all the good signs, we are still winless, and have only won three of our last 19 games. That dates back to the middle of 2016. To me, that’s quite alarming.

What’s also alarming is scores against North in the final quarters so far this year. Each opposition side has kicked 30-plus points against the Roos, so we clearly have an issue of running out games. It leaves us with a total of 77 points scored for versus 170 points scored against in the final term.

Clearly a lot is working, as we do have the potential to match it with the best; however, a lot isn’t working either.

The flight home from Perth is a long one, so I hope everyone in the team takes the opportunity to think of what we can do, and where we go to from here.

North return to Etihad next week and once again a question mark will be thrown over the result. The Roos have not enjoyed meetings with the Gold Coast in recent years, so we can only hope the result goes our way this time.

With another week of football done and dusted, we need to let go of the heartache and move forward once again.

If anyone needs me before next Saturday night, I’ll be writing up Garner’s MOTY cheque.

Comments

  1. Mark Duffett says

    It’s the mark of a true supporter that a report obviously so down about the team’s fortunes can be so positive about so many individuals. Well done.

  2. matt watson says

    Marnie,
    I’ve been talking to North mates about our fitness. I don’t think we’re fit enough. That’s why we’re losing like this.
    You’re right about the best 0-5 team…
    I’m not as devastated as I was in 1984!

  3. Marnie,
    I never cease to admire your enthusiasm. I wish I could be as positive.
    However,
    I will say that despite our 0-5 start I am reasonably optimistic regarding our direction.
    North is a young side: Simpkin will be a gun, Garner is getting a run at it, Vickers-Willis (at last) looked confident, Dumont is killing it, McDonald might finally be fulfilling his promise, and let’s hope Wood can stay injury free.
    But I still have heaps of questions – which may be better suited to an Almanac piece later in the week.
    #1 – Lindsay Thomas?
    And I agree with Matt that there must be something going on with fitness…

  4. It is interesting that you are so positive yet your title is “I quit” – but that’s okay!

    An end of year restructure will need to include another sweep out of players who are either not performing or have had the game go past them. Exit L. Hansen (we picked him at #3 when Joel Selwood was at #7???), L. Thomas (there are too many young small forwards waiting in the wings for those handful of games he plays well) and A. Swallow (surely saying good bye to Boomer was harder than will be showing Andrew the door?). There are a few others treading a fine line as well.

    But the elephant in the room is the coach and/or assistant staff. If a side consistently shows certain traits within their game, it is directly related to the coaching staff. Even though Hawthorn were chockful of superstars, their winning culture was something to behold. Sydney’s defensive game. Dogs handball and ferociousness at the contest. This all comes from the coach and his staff. It doesn’t just happen. If 2013 wasn’t a sign, then surely 2017 is showing that this team is not coached well enough to maintain a lead.

    How can the players and ‘leaders’ on the field on one hand be good enough to establish a match winning lead and yet be not good enough to hold it? These players are good enough but the instructions they are being given are not working. The win/loss ratio in close matches testifies this point.

    Along with certain players, the coach and certain coaching staff will need to be thanked for their services at the end of the season. It will be a painful financial hit but can be justified. There are more Luke Beveridges out there who have the ability to lead a club to a premiership within two years. North Melbourne have a list that has the potential to be very successful … with the right coaching.

  5. They were not unlucky to lose to Freo, or Geelong or the Dogs. They are not tough enough, or desperate enough and frankly I think that some players don’t want the hard ball. So many half-hearted smothers and tackles and uncertain marking attempts and players not doing the hard things. Is the coach to blame? Maybe? However,once the players, in their personal pride as footballers, all decide to stand up and play like men, in their play, in their decisiveness with the ball and take control, real control of the games, in their voice, in their actions,in their bloody body language,then things can happen. They must start to play like men who bloody well mean business, then the team will start winning and the opposition will notice that North Melbourne mean business, then anyone can coach them, because they will coach themselves. This is what I want to see. Right now, teams like Geelong and Freo believe that if you are brutal, I mean really brutal, against some North players, they lose interest in the game. We have some players who would rather back out of a contest than try to take a brave mark and have a sore head for a couple of minutes. Tough, but right. And coaching, as a former premiership coach of North told me today, yes just today, we have lost 16 out of our last 18, and if you are in the business of winning, as he stated, that’s not good enough. He is right. We need to start winning and getting respect back, not patronising pats on the back saying you tried hard and we admire your efforts. I’ve had a gutful of that. No North Melbourne,we need to start winning again, not close losses, and that is what all North supporters want, tough men, who mean business, and that business is winning and God help anyone who gets in their way. Talk about Shinboner Spirit, that, is what it means, uncompromising, tough direct, strong tackling, decisive action, clear movement and absolute team focused football.Not pussy footed decisions, brutal clear, decisive play that everyone buys into directly. The players, especially, the team leaders, , but, all of the experienced players, must take control of the team’s destiny because now is their football future and get everyone on board and an exciting bold new era can start at North. I don’t want to see players at North play over 100 games at North and say, I could have done this or that, or I didn’t speak up or I was too quiet,or I wasn’t brave enough when I know I could have been, because that doesn’t count. Decisive action is always better for yourself. Your destiny is in your hands and you can make it happen, if you want it.That’s what I want to see as a collective at North. It is time to stand up North Melbourne.Go Roos! Play with purpose from this point onwards.

  6. Firstly, the best 0-5 team is Sydney surely? North will always have to fight harder than most powerhouse ‘destination’ clubs. Finishing consistently highish on the ladder for a sustained period hasn’t helped them to draft top end talent either so a bottom 4 finish for a year or 2 might reap some benefits in the long run. North lacked polish even before they moved on their 2 most polished players last year (Wells & Boomer). They would have a decent war chest atm you’d think & it’s little wonder they are willing to sell the farm to sign a young talent like Kelly on a lucrative long term deal.

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