NFL – Northcote Park v West Preston-Lakeside: Opening round success for Northcote Park

Bendigo Bank logo


In the days before Friday night’s opening round clash, the excitement started to get to me. I had never been to an NFL game before, let alone any game of local footy, or so I thought.

Somehow I then thought back to an afternoon in September of 2003, where I witnessed my uncle win a premiership with Hurstbridge, and me trying to make it into the middle of the huddle, singing words to a song I knew nothing about. After further research, I can now tell you that was the Northern Football League 2003 Division 2 Grand Final. I had been to a local football game after all.

Only one, and only 12 years ago.

Walking into Bill Lawry Oval, the atmosphere was already building. The club put on a dinner for around 100 guests, with ex-Geelong player Neville Bruns as guest speaker. All the talk surrounding the meal was about the game, and considering last year’s opening round draw between these two sides, nerves seemed to be compulsory.

As the sides made their way out onto the ground for the warm-ups, the crowd started to file in. It was a fantastic night for an opening round Friday night game, as hundreds of supporters had made it into the ground before the game began.

For those unaware of what was at stake, it may have just looked like a match-up of former AFL stars, with 227 gamer Tarkyn Lockyer in the green, white and gold of Northcote Park, and 185 gamer in David Rodan, pulling on the blue, white and red of West Preston-Lakeside. To most however it was much more then that, as these teams were two of the fiercest rivals in the NFL, and since 2004, have been playing for the The McNiece-Mellerick Cup, a trophy honouring the two families heavily involved with their respective clubs.

The game started as physical as you would have thought, with both teams trying to get on top early. The Cougars forward line looked a touch more threatening in the opening quarter, as they went into quarter time with a nine point lead. The walk to the Northcote Park quarter time huddle was a crowded one, as one member of the Northcote Park board said to me: “it’s the biggest crowd huddle we’ve had since our 2012 finals series.” The locals were getting behind their team, and they would have absolutely loved what was about to follow.

The Northcote Park forward half only got more intimidating for the Roosters defenders, as Tarkyn Lockyer and Ashleigh Close both had big parts to play in each of the five second quarter Cougar goals. The play of the half, and ultimately the game came as Jacob Ramaekers was running in to an open goal, only to be denied by the sheer desperation of Cougar Jacob Mitchell, as his last ditch goal square tackle prevented a certain six pointer. The effort and hustle was there throughout the first half, as Northcote Park headed into the sheds with a 23 point lead, and a fresh breath of confidence.

Once they got a sniff, they didn’t let up. A massive six goal to zero third quarter from the home side put the contest beyond doubt, as the relentless pressure from all over the ground was too much for the West Preston-Lakeside men. Lockyer was showing every bit of his AFL experience, and the young Cougars were also playing a very promising style of football.

They took their foot off the pedal a touch in the final quarter, as the final margin showed 58 points, a margin somewhat generous to the Roosters, as after quarter time they didn’t look nearly as dangerous.

It was a night to remember for all Northcote Park fans, as the game they had been waiting months for, turned out the exact way they had hoped it would. It only got better the following day, as the Reserves and Under 19s sides made it three wins from three against West Preston-Lakeside opponents.

Next week the Cougars travel to Eltham, who are 0-1 after being defeated by defending champions Greensborough.

For more information regarding Northcote Park, head to

Logo Cougar 1



  1. Sam Botoulas says

    Great Article. Accurately captures the atmosphere of the evening. great night of local footy.

  2. Thanks Stephen. Great to have you in the pages of the Almanac. Welcome. Sounds like an excellent evening. I hope to wander down with the kids one arvo. Cheers JTH

Leave a Comment