North left to think of the future


I can remember sitting at the computer, staring blankly at a word-document sheet in the early hours of Easter last year. My eyes were sore. I remember dabbing my eyelids with wet fingers to keep them open. North Melbourne had just been thrashed by St Kilda. 104 points. We were hopeless, they were irrepressible. Riewoldt kicked 7 on the night, and we were at the bottom of the ladder. I managed to get all my thoughts onto the page, which was later uploaded onto the Footy Almanac website. A year and a bit on, I feel somewhat the same.

Driving home from work at the radio station, Mum asks a question that stops me from tucking into the McDonalds we had just bought. “What will North do when Petrie retires?” I stop, and ponder. I would’ve much preferred the birds and bees talk. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Nothing is said afterwards. It is an awkward silence, what WILL we do when the big man hangs the boots up in four or five years time?

I have been so revved up about this game all week. On Monday I felt good about everyone talking us up after our 98 point victory over Fremantle. Tuesday was full of hoping that Riewoldt’s knee was as bad as the media was making it out to be, while Wednesday had an emotional sting to it after the retirement of Brady Rawlings. Thursday saw Brad Scott start to really talk up North Melbourne’s chances of potentially snatching a top eight berth with victory, while Friday was the media hype surrounding the game. Finally, Saturday. Game day.

The pre-match feature was all about the resurgent Roos. We were primed for a big win over big opposition. Everyone was watching. Could this team in blue and white stripes really play football? Confidence, pride, humility, you name it; it was all on the line tonight. Siren sounds, the umpire holds the ball aloft. The most important game of the season for these two teams. Todd Goldstein and Ben McEvoy stare deeply into each other’s eyes as they anticipate the first ruck duel of the night. The ball is bounced, thud. And Channel 10 go to an ad break.

What. The. Hell.

It comes back, and the play is in North’s end of the ground. Nathan Grima turns it over, with Riewoldt, who declared himself fit days prior, passing long to Milne to open the scoring. Petrie amazes the crowd with a huge hangar over Sam Fisher on the 50m line, and he goes back and penetrates the big sticks to level the scoring. Channel 10 cut to an ad break two more times mid-play, and it is bloody annoying. No wonder this mob aren’t getting the TV rights next year. Not having to listen to that Stephen Quarterbrain flog is something I am looking forward to immensely. Adam Schneider snags consecutive goals to give St Kilda a 12 point lead, and just when I start to worry, Leigh Adams marks on the lead and converts from 50 out. Adams is easily our most reliable shot at goal from any distance. He may be ugly, but he can play some seriously good football. Justin Koschitzke is rewarded a free kick after Scott McMahon infringes while trying to spoil the big man, and he gives St Kilda an 11 point lead to go into quarter time with.

I am not sure on my view of the game. St Kilda look good when they go forward, while we are butchering the ball. We’ve had the ball in our 50 more times than they have, yet they’ve kicked two more goals than us. North attack hard and fast early in the second. Aaron Edwards cleverly passes to Adams on the outside of his right boot who kicks his second, before we hit the front courtesy of sloppy play from Sam Gilbert resulting in a 50m penalty. Kieran Harper is the recipient, and his shot at goal from 10m out directly in front goes dangerously close to hitting the goal post, but it is a six-pointer, thankfully. He is becoming our new Shannon Grant in more ways than one (see his Round 1 shank against Collingwood, 2007). Petrie marks one-handed in the goalsquare and thumps through his second, before Harper beats Raph Clarke in a contest (anyone could) and goals from 50 out straight in front. I like this kid a lot. Dad likes him too, I can tell. His second and third efforts, along with his uncanny ability to hit a target by foot over a distance of 40+ metres 9 times out of 10 go rather unnoticed by the football public, Kevin Sheehan in particular. I was so impressed at his ability to chase a bouncing ball towards the boundary line, knock it back into play towards Petrie, who passed to Cameron Pedersen inside 50. Pedo goals, and North are 20 points clear. It is fair to say that I am absolutely ecstatic. September is running through my mind. Sunday afternoon Elimination Final at the MCG against Carlton. All the possibilities. All the recognition from the football public. All the promise. With the good, you must take the bad though. St Kilda, like they did in the second quarter against us earlier in the year, bang on five goals straight. Riewoldt kicks his first, then his second, and soon has his third. Trust North to run him into form. David Armitage snaps a clever goal from the goalsquare, and Nick Dal Santo lets fly with a kick off the ground near the goalmouth to extend St Kilda’s lead to 14 at half time. I am left wondering what the hell just happened.

It doesn’t get better in the second half. In fact it gets worse on every level. Milne kicks two fantastic goals, before Kosi and Jason Blake both mark uncontested in the forward line to take St Kilda’s lead out to a massive 41 points. They have kicked 9.7 to 0.0 since Pedersen’s goal. Daniel Wells splits the middle from 50 out, then Edwards slots his first of the night, and the scoreboard looks a tiny bit better. Schneider snaps a classy goal, before Ziebell tries to make a statement by crashing into Riewoldt hard. His feet leave the ground (problem one) and he hit Riewoldt (problem two). The MRP will look at these issues. Ziebell will cop two weeks, but it was an important stand by a kid still just 20 years of age, trying to carry his club on his shoulders. He was one of the three players actually having a crack at this stage (Swallow and Goldstein the others). Ziebell will get the captaincy next year, there is no doubt about it. The sooner Boomer rids himself of that © the better. Riewoldt is dazed, but he finds his feet. Ziebell offers his hand in apology, another reason why this man is a true leader. He is a graceful man. Riewoldt denies it and hits him in the chest. Not much needs to be said about that, other than it was poor sportsmanship on every level. The image Riewoldt created for himself at the end of last year was helped in no way by this incident. You reap what you sow, Riewoldt.

The final quarter is a progression. St Kilda keep the scoreboard ticking over, while Boomer continues to frustrate all supporters with his insipid performance. It wouldn’t be out of place for Lachie Hansen and Sam Wright to publicly question Harvey’s ability to the club, much like he did earlier in the year, because he has been absolutely awful at times this year. Next year must be his last year, hell, he should even consider quitting next weekend. Rawlings is putting the team before himself by hanging the boots up after next week’s game against Richmond, when he could easily play another two years. Harvey needs to take a leaf out of his book. St Kilda blow the margin beyond 70 points, but Edwards reduces it with a goal after the siren, and it is a 65 point victory to St Kilda. I am disappointed, gutted, devastated, all those words rolled into one.

But, I wake up to myself. Which club has the promising youngsters? Which club has the bright future? Which club is steadily rising while the other is gradually declining? North Melbourne are closer to a premiership than St Kilda are. We must take the bad with the good, and this was the baddest of bads. But we’ll be right next year.


Footnote: No wonder we didn’t win. North Melbourne have not won at Etihad Stadium on a Saturday night in a game covered by Channel 10 since Round 2, 2002. Thank God they are losing the TV rights next year.

St Kilda 4.4—9.9—15.16—19.21.135

North Melbourne 2.5—7.7—9.7—10.10.70


St Kilda: Riewoldt 5, Milne 4, Koschitzke 3, Schneider 3, Blake, Dal Santo, Armitage, Montagna

North Melbourne: Petrie 2, Harper 2, Edwards 2, Adams 2, Pedersen, Wells


St Kilda: Goddard, Dempster, Armitage, Riewoldt, Milne, Schneider, Koschitzke, Polo, McEvoy

North Melbourne: Ziebell, Swallow, Adams, Thompson, Goldstein


35,848 at Etihad Stadium


3: Brendon Goddard (ST)

2: Sean Dempster (ST)

1: David Armitage (ST)


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.


  1. John Butler says

    A frustrating night for North folk Josh.

    I reckon you’re tough on Riewoldt. If someone tried to iron me out, them wanted to make amends while the game was still going, I’d tell him to piss off too. The time for amends is after the siren.

  2. Stephanie Holt says

    Great report Josh – and admirably even-handed (except for the dig at Roo) – feel like I was there not piecing it together from the other side of the globe!

  3. David Downer says

    The frustration oozing through the keyboard there Josh. Might have limited your Ch.10 job prospects with the “S.Quarterbrain flog” remark!

    Now, bit of a ridiculous call on Riewoldt there matey – while still seeing stars he has no obligation to a guy who callously laid him out just moments earlier. You cant make a hit like that, suddenly offer your hand, and call it “sportsmanship!”. I’m sure there are no hard feelings at the final siren.

    But I appreciate the passion in your verse. I’m not sure either of our clubs, for varying reasons, will ever quite get that next flag, but I certainly wont mind if NM grab one eventually (just not at Stk’s expense!)

    #partypooper  #pessimist

  4. Dear Josh (and hello to Stephanie and DD as well), all fellow sainters and all of the view that it’s great to see Nick Riewoldt NOT be the nice guy for a change. He is always copping it front, left and centre and I liked to see him being UNFORGIVING. Time for niceness after he’s retired. Josh, I think North look great and have great potential, and when they move, they are fast and hungry. We were just hungrier. You have to remember that the Saints probably haven’t forgiven them for giving us a hiding just before the 2009 finals, as well as the Saints have points to prove after such a heartbreaking and breathtaking last few years of near misses. Last night, and hopefully for the game against the Blues, they are making a point, taking revenge (we hope) and giving it one last good crack.

  5. Great write up Joshy.
    Im kinda cut up, I was on a bit of a tipping
    roll with North- really wanted them to win.
    You can only get better with that great coach you have!

  6. David Downer says


    Further to your observation re NM not winning a Sat night Ch10 game since 2002, St Kilda have not lost a Sat night game at the Dome (period!) since the same year. Buyer beware for tipsters on that front, hindsight’s a wonderful thing. I’m saying that most weeks at the track also…

  7. DD,

    Yeah, an amazing record the Saints have at the indoor arena. Playing against the Swans there in the finals is a must for you guys. Need to beat Carlton.


    I think I remember back a while ago when Nick Riewoldt got his collarbone broken and it was beaten by Chris Scott and Mal Michael. Ziebell could’ve easily done that, but he did the man-thing and apologised. A small wink and a nod of the head is all that is needed.

    Sorry for such a blue and white-eyed view of this game. Not much credit given to the Saints here, who were fantastic and deserve their top eight spot.

  8. After the game they had a brief chat as they were shaking hands, so it all worked out in the end. That’s the advantage/disadvantage of the telecast here. We don’t get the ads, but we do get more of stevie q, Lloyd and Walls…

    Re the Riewoldt/Lions shenanigans, I think he was fair game. He wasn’t trying to get off the field and bad as it looked, what would have happened if he went into a contest? Play the game hard on the field, shake hands when it over…

  9. Matt Webber says

    That petulant swipe at Riewoldt cannot go unchallenged, but then the report does come from a blue and white heart blackened by a history of prep school petulance. King, Carey, Rawlings, that sniping no name defender who riled up Baz Hall. There’s plenty of them. I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Ziebell’s action was brainless and exactly the sort of thing the AFL is terrified of. Man over ball. Bloke with intent only to maim man over ball. The consequences of that kind of antiquated thuggery are potentially immense. I do believe Ziebell had a last second change of heart. The vision showed at least SOME hint of intent to leapfrog the trainwreck in waiting. But it was way, way too late and he lined him up from a mile back. Stupid is too kind a word.

    A measure of leadership? Hardly. A measure of abject footballing immaturity? Absolutely.

    But then again Boomer Harvey is his mentor. Good lord, did he lose his nana over a dropped ice cream.

    Ziebell should get 4. Minimum. Reckless, deliberate, violent, cowardly and idiotic. Load the numbskull up. Throw the book.

    And as for a lack of acceptance of an apology…For the good lord’s sake, Riewoldt was all but mid seizure not a minute before! You cannot possibly be serious.

    Frankly, I’m amazed that Riewoldt courted Ziebell’s contrition after the siren. All power to him. He’s a significantly more forgiving soul than I. Clearly, too, he exists a class above.

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