North head south

                                          North come south

Reviewed by Adam Muyt.

North Melbourne Versus Greater Western Sydney, 1.10pm, 8 April 2012, Bellerive Oval, Hobart

Last week I was in Sydney where I grew up, reviewing a rugby league game for the inaugral NRL Footy Alamanac.  This week it’s Hobart, my current abode, for the AFL version, where North Melbourne are ‘home’ to Greater Western Sydney.  Take these bi-codal travels and passions along with the setting and teams for this game and you get a fair insight into how far this country’s footy culture has changed since the breaching of the Barassi Line thirty years ago.

I find a spot on the Bellerive hill.  Grassy outers aren’t part of the history of VFL / AFL grounds but flopping down on the grass reminds me momentarily of winters in Sydney watching league from similar green swards.  Damp bums all round.  But the wind gusting in from the Derwent quickly brings me back to where I am now:  southern Tassie, gateway to Antarctica.

This is the first AFL game in Hobart since the Roys tried out the place for two seasons back in ’92-’93.   The ground is awash with Roo supporters, whether locals or mainlanders, and to everyone’s surprise – plenty of comments abound – there’s perhaps 200 or so orange, white and charcoal jerseys amongst the crowd.  Huh?  How?  Why?  They from St.Mary’s, Horsley Park, Quakers Hill?  Anyway, however they’ve arrived in the Land of the Giants, I admit I admire them:  they must know the next few seasons are going to be horrible.

The teams run on: two things strike me about the Giants.  First, the dominant orange on their jerseys – it works brilliantly as a footy colour (think of The Netherlands soccer strip): it’s distinct, bold, stands out against the green of the turf.  Second, how weeny these Giants are compared to North, who’re like Gullivers surrounded by Lilliputians…except for Harvey of course.  Take out ruckman Giles, Folau and Chad Cornes and the Giants are all fresh faced, skinny and decidely underdone in the bulk-up department (Power and Ward aren’t exactly towering figures so blend in neatly).    Looks like a mismatch – things could get very ugly.

And within ten minutes the uglies are out and about:  North have four goals on the board, three of which belong to Edwards, who’s welcoming Davis to the bigtime in the worst – or best, depending on your perspective – possible way.  Mohr moves on to Edwards, quitening him down.

North kick another three goals for the quarter – GWS fail to take a mark inside 50 and manage to get the ball within kicking range only sparingly.  They’re getting smashed around the clearances.

The second quarter continues along the same vein, GWS unable to penetrate beyond the centre due to poor kicking, North regularly wrapping the ball up across the centre and half-forward line and streaming forward in fast motion.  It takes another 28 minutes of football before GWS finally take a mark inside 50.  But no goal for the half.  North have 12 majors.  The highlights for the Giants in the first half: plenty of decent backline clearances from defence and a big pack mark down back from Cornes.

GWS come out to play in the third quarter, Giles marking just inside 50 and kicking their first goal inside a minute.  Another five follow for the quarter, each greeted with huge applause from the crowd.  We’re appreciating the team’s efforts, whatever we think of the AFL’s decision to set up it’s latest offspring (at Tassie’s expense!).  But North don’t ease up on the scoreboard, managing eight for the quarter.  It’s North by 89 at the final break.

GWS play on valiantly but end up completely overwhelmed by a bigger, stronger, faster, match-hardened side, who run out victors by  129 points.  Not unexpected.

We all know about North – a good side without being brilliant, capable of playing in the bottom half of the eight.  But what about GWS?  There’s clearly some good young talent there: Giles has an engine, Sheil has some grunt and a footy brain,  Mohr can handle pressure, Cameron can mark and kick goals.  But it was veteran Cornes who sticks in the mind, under pressure all day.  They should bottle some of his footy nouse before he retires.

North: 7.4, 12.8, 20.9, 28.15 (183)

GWS:  0.3, 0.4, 6.6, 8.6 (54)

Goals – North:  Edwards 5; McIntosh 3; Petrie, Mullett, Bastinac, Harvey, Cunnington, Goldstein, Anthony 2; Swallow, Wells, MacMillan, Harper, Adams, Wright 1.

Goals – GWS: Cameron 4; Ward, Smith, Giles, Davis 1.

Best – North:  Adams, Anthony, Harvey, McIntosh, Edwards, Bastinac

Best – GWS:  Cornes, Cameron, Mohr, Kennedy.

Umpires – Ryan, Rosebury, Mitchell.

Crowd – 11,127

Malarkey Votes:  Harvey (3), Bastinac  (2), Cornes (1)

About Adam Muyt

Born into rugby league, found aussie rules, fell for soccer, flirts a little with union. Author of 'Maroon & Blue - recollections and tales of the Fitzroy Football Club' (Vulgar Press, 2006). Presently working on a history of postwar Dutch migrants and soccer in Australia.


  1. Richard Naco says

    Lacking access to both 7 Mate – where the 7 network has banished their AFL coverage here in Sydney – and FOX Footy, I have adopted GWS as my ‘geographic’ home team (which will be until I can convince my Sydney born and bred wife to abandon her vast but incredibly close Lebanese family, ignore her absolute loathing of mild – let alone, cold – weather, & relocate to Geelong) (hell will freeze over before she leaves Sydney) (sigh!).

    I sat, listening to that game from go to whoa, and it wasn’t that hard, to be honest. North were great, and very few of the name teams would have been able to contain them in that form, so for GWS it was always about learning what it feels like to be basically bullied. And our 3rd/4 was sheer bliss. (As opposed to the 3rd/4 of the Swans’ game.)

    When Geelong’s superb drafts finally developed some muscle mass and 50+ games worth of experience, they remembered what it had felt like to be monstered by the Brisbane, Port Adelaide & West Coast teams of the early part of the last decade, and then started dishing it back.

    Patience is the core requirement of both the Suns & Giants until their boys beef up and get game time under their belt, so we can wear days like Sunday knowing full well that with Sheeds & Choco guiding them, there will be a time when the Giants well and truly start applying the lesson from games like this and indulge in some well earnt pay-back.

  2. pamela sherpa says

    Adam , Richard, I watched the whole game on TV knowing my adopted team the Giants would probably get a thrashing and they did. But I’m happy to watch them as long as they put in an effort and improve- despite being outclassed. Chad Cornes is certainly earning his pension check. Go Chad!

  3. Adam Muyt says

    Hi Pamela,

    Are the four (?) games in Canberra part of the attraction? What about your Bombers? Do tell.

  4. pamela sherpa says

    Adam , I bought a North membership when they were in Canberra to support footy and now am happy to support the Giants. I’ll always be a Bomber of course but am loving having a team I can call my own local team.I don’t care if we get thrashed- it’s the belonging and going to the footy that I enjoy. On the other hand I expect my Bombers to win a decent amount of games and not disappoint!
    Was interesting to see the crowd figure for the game in Hobart .Will be interesting to see how many turn up to Blacktown this weekend.

  5. Skip of Skipton says

    Richard, I have devised a cunning plan for you.
    In July, take your wife for a romantic weekend away. Catch a plane to Avalon, grab a hire car and proceed directly to Ballarat. Spend as much time as possible outside; sight-seeing at Sovereign Hill etc. The next day before your flight home stop in at the Geelong waterfront for a coffee, wine etc. In comparison, she will think Geelong’s weather tropical.

  6. Richard Naco says

    Skip – I used precisely that move in order to be in The Pivot on Grand Final day last year (we squeezed some time in on the Great Ocean Road between Ballarat and Geelong).

    Just as Pamela is a Bomber at her core, so I can happily identify as both a Cat (first & foremost) as well as a Giant. The success of the code has to be paramount, so I can wear short term pain (GAblett fleeing the winter wonderland that is Corio Bay) for long term gain.

    When Gold Coast & GWS are established and successful, our indigenous game will be stronger and healthier than it has ever been before.

  7. Adam Muyt says

    Thanks Pamela for clarifying how the Orange Men now a-peel (bad hey?) to you.

    As for the crowd figure at Bellerive, you can’t read much into it. Was a Long…Long Weekend (five days off in Tassie) and featured one club without much drawing power against a traditional club without great pull. North and the local media promoted the match heavily – if anything, the crowd was below expectations. To everyone’s amazement the recent NRL trial match at North Hobart Oval between Brisnaben and Melbourne outdrew it by several hundred !

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