North Melbourne and Essendon rivalry

It’s in your blood. Ingrained into every sense of your being. It’s just human nature, something that can’t be ignored, something that can’t be changed. If you grew up barracking for North Melbourne, you also grew up with a hate for those smug Bombers supporters from Windy Hill, even if you didn’t know it. It was still there, untapped, unnoticed. Rewatching vision of Kevin Sheedy being pelted by marshmallows after the 1998 Qualifying Final brings about an excitement like no other. Nor does seeing Essendon lose Preliminary Finals in both 1996 and 1999 by one point, where advancing through to the following week saw a waiting North Melbourne outfit. There’s also been some great memories tipped in the favour of the red and black scale. Like their 125 point thrashing of the Roos in the 2000 Qualifying Final, or when they came from 69 points down a year later to win by two goals in the greatest ever comeback in the history of the game. It just adds another spark to a bubbling rivalry that doesn’t get talked about like the usual Collingwood and Carlton and the Hawthorn and Geelong match-ups, but there is an aura of excitement every weekend when the fixture dictates these two will play against each other.


From MCG blockbusters under lights, to sparsely-attended Etihad Stadium snoozers, the rivalry has reached a new level in recent years. Since 2010, the teams have a 3-3 split on the win-loss ledger, with most games being of high quality, such as the Round 1 thriller in 2012 where Hamish McIntosh missed after the siren, or the bumper clash midway through 2011. Tomorrow night, these clubs will play against each other on the home of footy for the first time in 4482 days. 12 years, three months and seven days. The stakes have never been higher. North have not won a final since 2007, the Bombers since 2005. The winner will advance to the Semi Finals, and the loser faces another long summer. I feel physically ill when I think about it. The butterflies flutter and jangle. At the time of writing, there’s just over 24 hours until the spotlight turns to these two Victorian rivals. I’ll be there, amongst the 80,000 predicted, with my bag of marshmallows, willing to give it all. I just hope that my boys have a similar mindset.

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. Josh, I love that you “feel ill thinking about it” when it comes to the Kangas elimination final tonight. That is the mark of a true believer.
    Go Kangas, everyone not born to the red and black is with you.

  2. Well done Josh, I”ll be there in spirit.

  3. Amazing game Josh. I was going to post an “I feel ill too” comment at half time. Then I thought Essendon have trouble playing 4 quarters.
    I have zero opinion of Drew Petrie as Glass always took him to the cleaners in big games. When Ryder rag dolled him to mark and goal, on top of many other weak efforts all game, I thought “North might win but you can’t keep playing a big bloke as weak as this as your key forward”.
    Then he kicks the last 2 and seals the game. Zero to hero. A great redemption story. Well done Josh and all you Kangas. Wells was sublime. Young Brown is going to be a beauty, and I liked the way the kid Turner kept going at it all game. Greenwood, Gibson and Thompson were good all game.
    You had to get a long way behind to stop thinking about it and play your natural game.
    Good on you Josh and Kangas.

  4. Bob Speechley says

    Marshmallows – touche!

  5. Yes there’s a long history between these two old rivals from the inner North. When North Melbourne made their first VFL grand final in 1950, it was Essendon waiting for them.

    Throughout my youthful memories of the 70’s and 80’s these two sides played some damn good games, though my only recollection of them meeting in the finals was in 1983; or was it ? .

    Interestingly North Melbournes first premiership captain was a former ‘Bomber’ Barry Davis. A man who has a proud history at Windy Hill.

    Top game on Saturday night. Congratulations to the winners who rate as good prospects of winning in another rivalry clash next week, thr Scott family rivalry.


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