NAB Cup, Round 1: The day I met Josh, Steve, Michael, Damo and Majak


When I announced my plans during the week to go to the footy with some people I’d never met, the responses from my parents were mixed. Mum was strongly disapproving of the whole idea. “You say you’re 100% sure they are who they say they are, but that makes you very naïve, Adam,” she said angrily. Dad had read the 2008 Footy Almanac though and while admittedly being initially sceptical, he was won over by me. Being a Cats fan, he even wanted to come along, which suited me as it enabled me to get some more driving hours on the way to the magical 120.

Unfortunately, my basketball game time had been changed from 8:30 to 6:50, so the plan was to leave the footy at half-time and get to the basketball before it started. Nonetheless, I was keen to meet the Almanac boys for the first time and enter the North Melbourne dressing rooms.

As I drove, I told Dad a bit about the Almanac and the boys I was meeting. However, there was one name he misheard.

“Barn-and-stable?” Dad said, confused. “Is that some kind of joke name?”

As I crawled through the heavy traffic, I received a text from Demon Steve Healy. “U there yet?” it said. At a red light, I texted back. “On way.”

Eventually, we found a parking spot on Spencer Street before heading in the direction of the Dome. As I hurried to my destination, I received another text from Steve. “How soon?” it said.

When I reached the railway bridge, it didn’t take me long to spot Steve glancing uncertainly in my direction and standing with two other boys. I quickly but nervously made my way towards them. “This soon.” I said to Steve, before greeting Michael and Blues fan Damian Watson. Soon after, Josh arrived in his Argentina clash strip with his Dad Terry and we headed towards the Dome (it sounds so much better than saying Etihad).

The conversation was initially like a Swans game: slow and not free-flowing. Once we settled in our seats after a failed attempt to enter the North Melbourne rooms, the conversational style became more like a Bulldogs match.

I have always been fond of left footers. Perhaps it’s because they look more aesthetically pleasing. I’m not a lefty myself, but watching lefties like Daniel Rich deliver long, low 60m passes straight to a leading forward is a delight to watch, and I can usually name all the southpaws for each team. I was taken by surprise when in the warm-up, at the exact same moment, Goldstein and Greenwood booted two set shots towards goal. The synchronisation was beautiful. Two more lefties to my list.

The first quarter was quite a gritty contest, both teams struggled to find space and it was over five minutes before the scoreboard moved off zero. Benjamin Warren (not Warren Benjamin) got the first and last goals of the quarter, but three Cats goals, including a Hawkins supergoal from a 50m penalty, were sandwiched in between, so the Cats went into quarter time with an 8 point lead.

Early in the quarter, Bartel grabbed a loose ball after a Kelly tackle and curled a quick banana for a goal. Soon after, Swallow responded. I wondered if Danielle Eid was listening to the game, or buried in Business homework. North’s youngsters Anthony, Ziebell, Wright and Adams were prominent, but young Mitch Duncan for the Cats showed some composure, confidently dummying a rushing Roo before slotting a nice goal from 40m.

Steve was the one talking the most out of our group, I was impressed with his ability to rattle off facts from matches 3 years ago and was slightly bemused by his meticulously detailed scoresheet for the Sydney-Carlton match (he had even coloured in logos for NAB, Toyota and Mars!) “It’s tradition,” he said.

A lot of the conversation was along the lines of “Who wears number X?” Soon, we had established that for Geelong, 16 was Dawson Simpson, 37 was Jeremy Laidler and 48 was Tom Allwright. Michael then did a clanger by asking who number 14 for Geelong was, and then realised as incredulous eyes turned on him.

Selwood wasn’t at his best, uncharacteristically fumbling an alright Allwright handball. The umpires weren’t at their best either, awarding seven 50m penalties in the first half. To me, 50m seems like a very harsh penalty, especially when there’s no in between, and when the result could be nine points.

Matt Campbell got a supergoal in this way, after “demonstrative behaviour” from Wojcinski. The pocket rocket Campbell was arguably the best Shinboner in the first half, later grabbing hold of an overconfident Ablett and forcing him to kick out on the full. It seemed like a turning point, because after that it was all Roos – goals to Jones, Adams and Harding gave the Roos a nice 18 point margin at the long break, at which point we headed for the rooms. Steve’s prediction of a 75 point Cats win seemed unlikely now!

I gave Steve a test on the way there. “Round 11, 2008, Geelong vs North Melbourne.” I said. Within a few seconds, Steve had responded. “17.12.114 to 19.13.127.” he said. I was amazed at Steve’s footy brain – he should get the word SHERRIN tattooed on the side of his head.

As we entered the rooms, oddly enough my first thought while looking at the Rooboys recuperating, several of them shirtless, was how much Danni would have enjoyed this sight. We took some photos from behind bars before I got a text from my Dad saying it was time to go. I said goodbye to the Almanackers and left.

As I exited the lift, I spotted Majak Daw smiling for a photo with an ecstatic 7 year old. After the kid had gone, I was amazed at myself saying “Hey Majak,” He was very polite and friendly, and significantly taller than me. “Sorry mate, I have to go back to the rooms,” he said. “No worries, good luck this season,” I said. We shook hands and parted before Dad and I left.

In the car trip, it took a long time for it to occur to me to turn on the radio. The first bizarre words I heard were “Geelong are only 19 points down and have kicked the last 4 goals!” WHAT?! By the time we got to basketball, it was 3 quarter time and only an 8 point game.

But basketball didn’t go too well for me, although we won. After basketball, as I sat stretched out on the back seat of the car nursing my badly twisted ankle, I received the entire Roos theme song in text message form. I texted Josh back asking the score. “95-81,” he replied, before going on to give a brief account of the 2nd half, the most surprising part of which was “Goldstein kicked a magnificent goal on the run”.

When I got home, I was feeling quite down, mostly because of my sore and swollen ankle. Then I remembered the earlier events of the day, meeting the Almanackers, watching the match, and especially shaking hands with Majak Daw. Despite the pain, it brought a smile to my face.

VOTES (based on the first half, and the stats)

3 – Matt Campbell

2 – Liam Anthony

1 – Corey Enright


  1. Once again, great article Adam.

    I haven’t had any girls ask me yet but i’ve had two girls texting me non-stop lately about the Deb so i’m not sure. But its next year so i’m not giving it any thought. Port by 59.

  2. We have a formal at the end of year, although I’m pretty sure we don’t have to dance, or dress exactly the same. Which is a big plus.

  3. ONCE AGAIN spot on about the shirtless part lol

    ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh JOSHYYYY!! lmaoo

  4. Hitchcock has 3. 55 to 120! AMAZING! THREE QUARTER TIME!

    PORT ARE UNBELIEVABLE, they could win the nab cup

  5. Awesome, is “Alfred” Aboriginal?

  6. So am i the only person to notice that St Kilda have won both NAB Cup matches so far by a combined total of 2 points.

  7. 2- lol all we got told for our year 10 ball was not to wear black cos they guys would be wearing black or grey suits and they wanted us to stand out, not blend in.
    lol i told my partner off for wearing grey, cos we would look better if he had worn black, luckily he forgot his suit jacket at his friends house. lol

  8. no, unless he’s one of those aborginies who dont look like ones like Sam Sheldon

  9. Damian Watson says

    I knew Hitchcock will make an impact.

    Great piece Adam,’demonstrative behaviour’ that sounds familiar lol.

  10. Damian Watson says

    Let me rephrase that ‘Hitchocock would make an impact.

    Gee even Sachin Tendulkar would struggle to match the number of clangers I’m making.

  11. 10: Like supporter like team. Haha

  12. Damian Watson says

    11: Stop talking in the mirror Josh! lol

    Does anyone know the crowd figures for tonights game?

  13. would u guys believe me if i told u that my formal partner told me he used to barrack for collingwood got bored and then changed to ESSENDON!! b/c its true
    and i almost had a heart- attack when he told me

  14. 10,998 at the Dome tonight Damo.

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