JB and Dad do it again

North Melbourne v Adelaide

by Josh Barnstable

I hate being sick. Dad and I both do. We’ve both got a cold (although he says its the flu). I’d much rather have the flu than a cold. But, Dad and I, braving the icy weather, made the trip down to Melbourne for our first match of the year regardless of how we were feeling. The Roos needed us. We haven’t seen them lose since 2009. We’ve seen them knock off Geelong in the NAB Cup in 2010, Adelaide in Round 8, Carlton in Round 12, Port Adelaide in Round 13, Richmond in Round 16 and Melbourne in Round 22, all last year. Sure, we saw them lose to the Dogs and Cats in Geelong during the NAB Cup this year, but you can hardly count that as a serious loss. Our unbeaten streak was on six.

We arrived in Seymour at 10:20, 10 minutes before our train was due to depart. We hurriedly ran down the stairs and walked through the long tunnel to the Seymour train station. We got on and were away. I was getting extremely annoyed at the conversation between two teenage girls across from me, they were talking about shoes and Justin Bieber, so I put my iPod in and tried to block it all out. I was coughing pretty badly, and became conscience of annoying people in the carriage. I was hoping it would annoy the two girls enough that they would move, but sadly this did not eventuate. We arrived at Southern Cross with about 90 minutes before the game time of 2:10pm. Dad and I walked slowly along the bridge towards Etihad Stadium, sharing knowing nods and smiles at fellow North supporters and sneers at the very few Crow fans we could see. Dad saw a lady rattling a tin, so he gave me a few dollar coins to put in. As I did, she started yapping on about Barack Obama and other political issues. With a deft handball, Dad was gone, leaving her to talk to me. I looked around, worried. Then I just walked off. I could still hear her talking as we got further and further away from her. Dad and I made our way towards Gate 5, where we had to collect our lanyards and caps since it was our first game of the year. An old lady, probably pushing 90, heard of our winning streak and gave me a high five.

We entered the arena and I was a bit annoyed to find the roof closed. It was a sunny day, a bit windy but not enough for the roof to be shut. Still, at least we would be relatively warm. I decide that we should sit near the interchange bench, and as it turns out, we’re as far away from there as you can get. It is a long venture around to the other side of the ground, and we were told that we can’t sit on the first level because we may be taking up seats. C’mon, as if this game will attract enough people to fill the bottom level!

We climbed up a countless amount of stairs to find our seats, right in front of one of the big screens. I could’ve reached back and touched the screen. We watched as 311 young North fans form a guard of honour for Brent Harvey and the team to run through. Boomer was equalling the North Melbourne games record set by Glenn Archer in 2007. This is yet another milestone match that Dad and I have gone to. We were there when Archer played his 300th and Petrie kicked 6 in the opening quarter, we were there when Shannon Grant played his 300th against Port Adelaide but they smashed us by 13 goals, and we were there for the Friday night footy celebration last year against Carlton, where Lindsay kicked 7 (I like to bring it up whenever I can, just to remind JB and other Carlton supporters of that night). North ran out to a rapturous applause, while the Crows got a few claps and whistles. The stands actually looked decently full. Nathan van Berlo won the toss for the Crows, and they were kicking to the other end of the ground. Good.

Andrew Swallow won the first clearance. And the next one. And the one after that. Rinse and repeat several times. Forget Petrie’s 6 in a quarter, ‘Spitta’ was playing the game of his career. He even got the first goal from a free kick, which surprised me to see that the umpires were back on our side. Kieran Harper found Leigh Adams with a clever kick, and ‘Patch’ converted, but play was halted when Jamie Macmillan courageously went for the ball, only to be introduced to Richard Douglas’ shoulder. J-Mac was stretchered off, but it didn’t stop North’s dominance, with Patch kicking his second, before Boomer got on the board with a goal from the square by a 50m penalty. Swallow was absolutely white-hot, another clearance resulted in a goal to Petrie after Ben Rutten held onto him in a contest. North led by 29 points, with Kurt Tippett looking like the only Crow capable of kicking a goal. As it turned out, Rory Sloane got Adelaide’s first after a good mark and an even better kick from 50m on the flank, and K-Tip followed it up after Cameron Pedersen infringed on him in a contest. I started to get worried, especially compared to how I was feeling just minutes prior. Swallow made me feel better though. Even with 10 seconds left in the quarter, he was still fighting for the ball. He won the ball on the flank, squeezing a handball out to Levi Greenwood, and with just a handful of seconds remaining, he booted to Petrie, who took a clever one-handed mark right on the siren. He was on the boundary line, 40m out. I was right above him, I could see about a centimetre between the goalposts. That’s all I needed to see though. Petrie’s kick was a thing of beauty. The noise the crowd made when the ball left his boot was magical. It was a quiet gasp, then it grew into something more. Screams of disbelief, a roar. I watched the ball head towards the centimetre between the goalposts. I looked down and saw Petrie trying to will the ball through like champion ten-pin bowlers do when their ball is edging along the gutter for pin number 7 to finish off the spare. For a second it looked as if the ball would spin the wrong way and hit the inside of the post, but it kept its trajectory. The air got a taste of Petrie’s fist.

I’ve never seen the Roos play footy like that. They looked like a premiership side, rebounding the ball from the backline to the forward line with absolute ease. Swallow was playing like he was the best player in the league, Todd Goldstein thought he was Dean Cox, and Petrie looked like he was going to split a pack in half. Adelaide put Douglas onto Swallow, and he had just three possessions for the quarter. I booed. Daniel Wells and Jack Ziebell stood up in his absence though, maintaining the severe edge the Roos had in the midfield. Patrick Dangerfield was gifted a goal after Scott McMahon infringed on him in a marking contest, but Petrie hit back with his third after losing Rutten in the goalsquare. Dad and I were really impressed with how Shaun Atley was playing, his ability to hit the packs hard and slip a handpass over his head to a free teammate was awesome to watch, his awareness for an 18 year old is impressive. Sloane was putting his hand up as Adelaide’s only decent player on the day, with a good kick finding Tippett in the goalsquare who converted. Swallow returned when it mattered though, winning another clearance and finding Lachie Hansen on the lead. My most disliked North player booted a long goal, which forced a wry smile from both me and Dad.

Half time came, and Dad said that we needed to find better seats in level one. On our way back down the stairs, we went past a host of North players not playing, including Hamish McIntosh, Robbie Tarrant and Ed Lower. I saw Daniel Pratt and Michael Firrito talking together, and asked them for a photo. I noticed that Pratt was the only non-playing player that was dressed in a NMFC hoodie and jeans, instead of a white-collared shirt and suit pants like the others. Then I heard my name called. Turning around, I saw a very jubilant Sam Wright smiling at us, who was delighted to see that we’d made the long trek from Waaia down to the game. He was with ruckman Ben Mabon. He bid us farewell as we found some seats right behind the glass panel on the interchange bench. We were right behind the interchange steward’s box. Jeff Gieschen and Mike Fitzpatrick were two that Dad noticed sitting there. Mark Howard, Channel 10 commentator, was also sitting a couple of rows ahead of us with a big headset on. He was wearing jeans and thongs, a terrible fashion statement.

Someone had spilt beer all over the ground where I was sitting, so I conceded that I would have to put up with sticky feet after the game. Swallow was the first to get his hands on the ball in the second half, clearing the ball to Hansen on the mark, who in turn passed to Petrie on the lead. He kicked his fourth goal, but Ricky Henderson replied after Ziebell gave away a very harsh 50m penalty. Scott Thompson gave away another 50m penalty, this time to the very impressive Jack Gunston who kicked a goal. I didn’t want to even think of turning around and trying to look at Brad Scott in the coaches box, not after what he did in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago. North regained control of the game in a big way though, a Crows error at centre half forward saw the ball in Liam Anthony’s hands. With a swift pass into the middle of the ground, Boomer had it. Greenwood streamed past. He got the ball, and booted it long. Goldstein was alone in the goalsquare, he marked and pumped it into the stands. Team goal of the day. Swallow booted a classy goal on the run from 40m out and celebrated like a man who knew he’d played one of the best games of all time, and it wasn’t even three quarter time yet. To top it all off, he was my Supercoach captain for Round 11! Aaron Edwards, who I told Dad hadn’t had a kick for the entire game, must’ve heard me as he hunted the ball deep in the forward pocket. With the goal Daniel Wells kicked last week against the Swans still fresh in his mind, he attempted the same checkside kick while on the backfoot from the same position as Wellsy did it. Same result, different player. Edwards came from the ground with many applause. When Tippett hit the post twice for the term, I knew it really was our day. North’s future was on show to finish the third quarter, with a host of potential skippers linking up to get the current day captain his second goal. Atley evaded an Adelaide player, handballed to Swallow, who flicked it out to Ziebell. Jay-Z kicked low and short to Boomer, and he extended our lead to 40 points at three quarter time.

I breathed a sigh of relief when the annoying kids in front of us decided that they needed to go to the toilet. I hoped that they would get lost on their way (not really). I wanted a percentage booster in the final quarter. Our percentage isn’t that bad actually, especially with our two wins being 60 and 41 point victories. It looked like the Roos would make good on my wishes, with Adams, on one leg mind you, marking on the lead in the pocket. Liam Anthony was standing, miles in the clear. Adams kicked to him, and L.A marked. With a quick look over his shoulder, he played on, strolled in and kicked a goal as three Adelaide players woke up to what was happening. Gunston quickly replied with an ugly goal from outside 50, and Tippett booted his third from his eighth shot at goal. Ziebell kicked a ripper from 65m out on the run, the ball bouncing through in the goalsquare, and the super-sub Ben Speight, who easily played the best game of his short career, got in on the action with a major on the run from 30m out. Dangerfield’s bulky legs made a shot at goal from 50m out light work, and Scott Thompson (the blond one) snapped a late goal for the South Australians. Atley’s pass was too hot for Petrie, but Harper was quick onto the crumbs, snapping his first of the afternoon, then it was Boomer’s turn to be a little ‘selfish’, the word of the week. With ball in hand and running through the middle, Boomer took a bounce, and kicked long. But his kick was smothered. It landed on the other side of the centre square, where Thompson (the better one) attacked it like a battering ram. He ran straight through the Adelaide defender, feeding the ball back to Harvey. He gave the skipper the chance to redeem himself. Boomer stubbed his toe with the next kick. The ball was ugly off the boot. It bounced to Edwards on the lead, and some good play from Hansen saw Anthony run in and kick his second of the quarter. It was a good way to finish the game. But, a bad way to finish the game? Well…

You can really tell how well a player has performed when you’re sitting near the interchange bench. When Swallow ran off, everyone clapped until their hands were red. When Boomer went near the bench he was cheered. Edwards was ridiculed for not having much impact, but they still encouraged him. People were sarcastically praising Hansen for actually playing a good game. Then Lindsay Thomas came off the ground. Insult after insult. Some not even funny. He had the Brian Lake’s. The Josh Hill’s. The Brendan Fevola’s, he didn’t want to be on the field. He didn’t want to do anything. He hadn’t had a shot at goal for the day, which is probably good considering he has 10.22 for 2011. Ironically, a double page spread was featured in the Sunday Herald Sun about how Thomas is trying to change his goalkicking luck. He finally got a chance to try it under match pressure when he marked late in the game, 30m out. The siren sounded, and we had won convincingly. The North song started playing as Lindsay started bending over and adjusting his boot laces. It quickly stopped playing. Ziebell came over to the bench, and people started pointing to Thomas at him. Jack turned around, saw, and smiled. Thomas lined up the kick. Slight angle, a deft kick would see it straight through the middle. In he came. The crowd wanted him to kick it, even the ones that were relegating him to the Magoos for next week just moments prior. Thomas came in, you could see that he still didn’t want to have the shot. A goal would give us a 53 point win. It looks surprisingly more attractive than a 47 point win. It was the fine-line between an emphatic victory and a thumping. The ball left Thomas’ hands and made contact with his sweet left boot. The umpire raised two hands. And made the motion we were all waiting for. Out on the full.

Oh well, he still kicked 7 against Carlton last year. We still love you for that Lindsay.

North Melbourne 6.1—8.3—13.5—18.7.115

Adelaide 2.1—4.4—6.7—10.8.68

Goalkickers:

North Melbourne-Petrie 4, Anthony 2, Adams 2, Harvey 2, Swallow 2, Hansen, Edwards, Goldstein, Ziebell, Harper, Speight

Adelaide-Tippett 3, Dangerfield 2, Gunston 2, Thompson, Sloane, Henderson

Best:

North Melbourne-Swallow, Ziebell, Thompson, Petrie, Wells, Anthony, Goldstein, Speight, Cunnington, Atley

Adelaide-Johncock, Sloane, Vince, Jaensch, Douglas, Tippett

Crowd:

18, 185 at Etihad Stadium

Votes:

6: Andrew Swallow

But really:

3: Andrew Swallow (NM)

2: Jack Ziebell (NM)

1: Scott Thompson (NM)

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.

Comments

  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Haven’t you got school work to do, Josh?

    Best game Swallow has ever played and one of the most dominant I’ve ever seen. By anyone. It was – dare I say it – Carey like in a hard at it onballer way. Love Goldstein. If he played for Collingwood, Eddie would be calling for him to be all-Australian.

    Jetting to the GC this weekend. 100mm of rain expected. We better win.
    Go Roos!

  2. Andrew Starkie says

    Ziebell and Anthony were good as well. Relief

  3. Here’s one for Gigs:

    The ADELAIDE CROWS, as well as being a very ordinary football team these days, with no sense of direction and purpose, can’t even quite cut it for a decent anagram.

    They are one L short of an anagram for SOD ALL IDEA CREW.

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