North Melbourne’s 15 top Home and Away victories 1997-2020




Here are what I regard as North Melbourne’s 15 top home and away victories since I started supporting them in 1997. Most were close matches rather than thrashings. I’m sure other supporters will identify further favourite victories that I have neglected to include such as the 1998 Round 22 ‘top of the ladder’ clash against the Bulldogs, and the various milestone games for Brent Harvey and Glenn Archer. There may be well be room for another top 15 to follow.


Game One – 3 May 1998: North Melbourne versus Adelaide, MCG


North Melbourne 7.4  9.5  12.10  15.16 (106)

Adelaide              2.3  7.9  15.10  15.12 (102)


Best players: Carey (12 marks), Grant, Pickett, Stevens, Martyn, Archer.

Multiple Goalkickers: Sholl 3, Grant 2, Abraham 2, Hewitt 2.


This was a classic Sunday afternoon battle between the last two AFL premiers. North were 6th and Adelaide 9th so a crucial match in terms of ladder position. After a slow start, Adelaide were brilliant in the two middle quarters, and seemed likely to win. But North had a bit of luck with umpiring decisions in the final quarter. With about a minute left, Adelaide ruckman Shaun Rehn running close to the boundary ducked into a brutal front-on tackle by Evan Hewitt. Hewitt was controversially paid holding the ball, and squared the ball to Peter Bell who goaled to give North back the lead with 43 seconds remaining. The usual reliables Carey (described as ‘unstoppable’ in the last quarter by Channel Seven commentator Dennis Cometti), Stevens, Archer, Bell and Blakey were crucial in that final stanza. Other highlights included a tight snap by McKernan, a long 55 metre goal by Sholl, McKernan running with the flight of the ball to mark in defence, and some great defensive interceptions and tackles by young Byron Pickett who would eventually win the Norwich Rising Star award for 1998.[i]


I was so pumped at the siren from the exciting finale that I sprinted helter skelter from my seat (hi-fiving North fans along the path) all the way to my wheels in the MCG car park.


Game Two – 20 June 1999: North Melbourne versus Melbourne, MCG


North Melbourne 2.5  5.8  10.11  12.21 (93)

Melbourne           1.3  5.6  11.7  14.8 (92)


Best players: Carey, McKernan, Pickett, Harvey, King, Stevens, Archer.

Multiple Goalkickers: Carey 4, Harvey 2.


A massive cliff hanger against Melbourne at the MCG. Although we were 3rd and the Demons 9th, they had beaten us against the odds at the ‘G’ in both ’97 and ’98. The Dees grabbed a 19 point lead early in the final quarter, and looked home. North scored goals through Harvey and Archer to inch within six points 10 minutes into the quarter, and then came a string of eight behinds in a row. I was sitting with Melbourne-supporting friends in the upstairs section of the old MCC members stand, but got too nervous, and wandered down to ground level with about 5 minutes to go. Amazingly, Carey and McKernan played kick to kick along the boundary line for about a minute during that final stanza. They were just dominant footballers. Carey, despite a back injury, had 22 disposals, took nine marks, and finished with four goals four. McKernan had 20 disposals and nine marks.  Additional highlights in that frenzied last five minutes included strong marks by Pickett and Simpson, and a young Cameron Mooney (prior to his switch to Geelong at the end of ’99) holding up well in defence. It was North’s 8th win in a row in a premiership year. [ii]


Game Three – 15 April 2000: North Melbourne versus Collingwood, MCG


North Melbourne 3.3  7.5  13.8  17.12 (114)

Collingwood        2.5  2.9  6.11  11.16 (82)


Best players: Carey, Simpson, Blakey, Harvey, Martyn.

Multiple Goalkickers: Carey 4, Grant 3, King 2.


North were the reigning premiers, but had started the season slowly, and were 7th on the ladder. Some commentators were already writing them off as too old and too slow. But playing up-and-comers Collingwood who were 2nd with five wins in a row under new coach Mick Malthouse, the Kangaroos restored the natural order. Carey dominated for the third week in a row with 24 disposals, 12 marks and four goals. New ruckman, Matthew ‘Spider’ Burton, recruited from Fremantle, was instrumental in the ruck contests.[iii]


Game Four – 30 March 2002: North Melbourne versus Port Adelaide, Football Park


North Melbourne 3.4  6.6  10.10  12.11 (83)

Port Adelaide      1.1  4.3  6.6  11.7 (73)


Best players: Grant, Archer, King, Harvey, Cochrane, Simpson, Porter, Robbins.

Multiple Goalkickers: Grant 3, Robbins 2, Harvey 2, Pickett 2.


In the lead-up to the 2002 season, North captain Wayne Carey resigned abruptly from the Club after revelations of an affair with the wife of vice-captain Anthony Stevens.[iv] The Club seemed in total disarray, and were widely tipped to finish near the foot of the ladder.[v] The draw did them no favours, scheduling them to play Port Adelaide, one of the major premiership contenders, away from home in Round One. Somehow, the Roos managed to upset the Power for a gallant victory. Deputy Vice-Captain Glenn Archer provided tremendous leadership shutting down champion Port forward Warren Tredrea, and then sealing the game after Port edged within nine points late in the final quarter.[vi]


Game Five – 31 May 2003: North Melbourne versus Western Bulldogs, Docklands


North Melbourne 7.0  10.4  19.5  24.12 (156)

Bulldogs              7.2  14.7, 19.13  22.13 (145)


Best players: Simpson, Harvey, Morell, Jones, Brown, Stevens, King, Sinclair, Makepeace.

Multiple Goalkickers: Morrell 4, Jones 3, Archer 3, Harvey 3, Harding 3, Brown 2.


This was an entertaining shoot-out between two struggling teams. North were 9th and the Bulldogs a lowly 16th. North trailed by 37 points late in the third quarter, but mounted a tremendous fightback. Digby Morrell (who would occasionally play a blinder before being cleared to Carlton at the end of the season after 40 games) nailed three quick goals late in that quarter from marks, including one huge grab over a pack, and also gave off a handball to Simpson for a goal. And then, in the last stanza, the ageing stars Stevens and King combined with Leigh Brown and youngsters Daniel Wells and Daniel Harris to secure the victory. Sav Rocca, who had injured his knee earlier and hardly touched the ball, sealed the game with a ridiculous banana on the run from the right forward pocket. Other highlights included long goals on the run by Jones and Archer in the first quarter, a torpedo goal on the run by Boomer Harvey in the 3rd quarter, and a splendid overhead mark by Archer and team lifting goal on the run by Brown in the final quarter.[vii]


Game Six – 28 March 2004: North Melbourne versus Adelaide, MCG


North Melbourne 2.3  8.5  17.7  23.11 (149)

Adelaide              4.7  4.11  9.13  10.14 (74)


Best players: Grant, Brown, Harvey, Makepeace, Simpson, Colbert, Wells, Rawlings.

Multiple Goalkickers: Brown 6, Jones 3, Motlop 2, Grant, Harvey 2, Wells 2.


This Round 1 game had extra significance as only the third time former North captain Wayne Carey had played against his old side. Adelaide had finished 5th well ahead of North 10th in 2003 so were favourites. In fact, most expert commentators had selected North to finish in the bottom five. [viii] But North dominated the last three quarters to win easily on a hot, 30 degrees afternoon. The veterans Stevens, Simpson and Grant combined with Harvey and young Daniel Wells to destroy the Crows, whilst the enigmatic Leigh Brown played probably his best game for North (before crossing to Collingwood at the end of 2008) kicking six goals. [ix] Carey was a shadow of his former self, and had little impact on the game other than being the target of some merciless booing (i.e. ‘send him to the knackers’ which provoked loud laughter) from his former fans.


Game Seven – 7 August 2005: North Melbourne versus Collingwood, Telstra Dome


North Melbourne 3.4  7.7  8.10  15.14 (104)

Collingwood        3.2  7.7  10.11  14.14 (98)


Best players: Harvey, Archer, Grant, Wells, Thompson, Rawlings, Petrie.

Multiple Goalkickers: Grant 3, Thompson 3, Rocca 2, Harvey 2.


North 5th on the ladder were expected to beat Collingwood who were 14th. But for the second week in row (having overcome a 40 point deficit against Port Adelaide in Round 18), it was only an amazing fightback that got them home. North trailed by 18 points with only four minutes remaining in the final stanza, but a left foot banana by Sav Rocca, and then two brilliant running goals by Shannon Grant from 60 and 50 metres out respectively levelled the scores. Glenn Archer and Daniel Pratt held firm in defence, and then Daniel Wells (who had also assisted the two previous goals) got the ball to Boomer Harvey who delivered the ball to big forward Nathan Thompson on the lead. He drilled the winning goal from 45 metres out followed by a large fist pump. Thompson’s three goals (plus eight marks) took him to 46 for a fine season after he had crossed over from Hawthorn at the end of 2004. He finished the season with 52.[x] Fox Sports commentator Gary Lyon called the victory a ‘Houdini escape’ and ‘a miracle’.


Game Eight – 23 June 2006: North Melbourne versus Carlton, Telstra Dome


North Melbourne 4.2  8.6  12.8  18.13 (121)

Carlton                4.4  6.6, 14.8  15.12 (102)


Best players: Grant, Thompson, Hale, Brown, Harvey, Makepeace, Jones, Rawlings, Simpson.

Multiple Goalkickers: Grant 5, Thompson 4, Brown 3, Harding 2, Jones 2.


This clash between the 14th placed Kangaroos and the 15th placed Carlton didn’t matter much for ladder positions. But it was still a pleasure to watch. Carlton led by 18 points early in the last quarter, but North led by Nathan Thompson, Corey Jones and Leigh Harding kicked the last six goals of the game. Shannon Grant had been vital earlier with his five goals.[xi] Thompson earned the three Brownlow votes for his 17 disposals, 11 marks and four goals, and ended up with 54 goals and 13 Brownlow votes (placing him 10th overall) in a fine season.


Game Nine – 27 May 2007: North Melbourne versus Melbourne, MCG


North Melbourne 3.5, 7.7  8.14  10.19 (79)

Melbourne           2.4  4.8  4.10  11.12 (78)


Best players: Grant, Harvey, Gibson, Swallow, Rawlings, Simpson, Harris.

Multiple Goalkickers: Grant 5, Jones 2.


This should have been an easy win for North (6th on the ladder and gunning for their sixth victory in a row) against Melbourne (15th and winless). And for three quarters it seemed destined to be a pedestrian victory. Then suddenly Melbourne came alive and kicked seven goals in a row to lead by six points with three minutes to go. After a behind by Corey Jones to make the difference five points, the Melbourne full back Travis Johnstone gave away possession with an errant kick that found the boundary line. North youngster Andrew Swallow, not always the most reliable kick throughout his career, grabbed the ball from the resulting throw-in and drilled the match winning goal from 50 minutes out with just over a minute left.[xii] Shannon Grant was the star for North with 16 disposals and five goals three.


Game Ten – 19 April 2008: North Melbourne versus Collingwood, MCG


North Melbourne 3.4  5.9  9.12  16.16 (112)

Collingwood        2.4  8.6  10.11  15.15 (105)


Best players: Wells, Grant, Harvey, Firrito, Harding, Campbell, Thomas.

Multiple Goalkickers: Grant 3, Thomas 3, Campbell 3, Lower 2, Thompson 2.


This was a feisty Round 5 game between North (7th) and Collingwood (5th) who were equal on points. The Magpies held a slight lead for most of the match, and seemed to have the game won when they grabbed a 21 point lead in the last quarter. But classy forward play from Nathan Thompson, Lindsay Thomas (who kicked three in the last quarter), Matt Campbell, and finally Shannon Grant (who had missed a last minute opportunity to win the game against Collingwood in Round One of 2007) snatched back the lead.  The next centre bounce was awful skewing many metres towards the North goal before being grabbed by Adam Simpson and resulting in a major to Ed Lower. But the drama was not yet over. With about a minute to go, Collingwood forward Alan Didak ran into an open goal from 20 metres out and missed a sitter that would have given Collingwood back the lead. Campbell then sealed the game for North with a clever snap over his shoulder.[xiii] Harvey was brilliant with 34 disposals, whilst Grant had 24 disposals and kicked three goals.


Game Eleven – 23 August 2009: North Melbourne versus St Kilda, Etihad Stadium


North Melbourne 5.2  7.2  8.3, 10.4 (64)

St Kilda               3.0  4.4  6.9  8.11 (59)


Best players: Petrie, Swallow, Rawlings, Greenwood, Anthony, Thompson, Grima.

Multiple Goalkickers: Petrie 4, Edwards 2.


This was a massive Round 21 boilover. North (13th) were not expected to trouble the top side St Kilda who had dropped only one game all year. But North kicked the first five goals of the game, and then came from behind in the final quarter to seize victory. [xiv] Drew Petrie was outstanding with 14 disposals, 8 marks and 4 goals including two in the tight final quarter (one from a big chest mark) that put North back in front. Also watch out for his big fist to spoil with only a minute to go. Andrew Swallow with 33 disposals and Brady Rawlings (playing his 200th game) with 32 disposals were excellent. Other highlights included a first quarter goal from Petrie (labelled ‘one of the goals of the year’ by Fox Sports commentator Dwayne Russell), a brilliant pick up and goal on the run by Matt Campbell in the second quarter, and a brave juggling mark by Andrew Swallow late in the final quarter.


 Game Twelve – 22 July 2012: North Melbourne versus Richmond, MCG


North Melbourne 3.5  7.9  9.11  15.13 (103)

Richmond            2.3  5.9  10.12  14.15 (99)


Best players: Petrie (13 disposals and 7 marks), Swallow, Bastinac, Grima, Harvey, Gibson, Goldstein, Thompson.

Multiple Goalkickers: Petrie 7, Harper 2, Anthony 2.


A big Round 17 clash between two finals contenders. North were 9th and Richmond 11th separated by only four points. It was close from start to finish. Drew Petrie iced the game with a tremendous five goals in the last quarter. Three were from contested marks, and the final goal from a remarkable chain of 10 handballs all the way from full back. Matt Campbell drilled the other last quarter goal with a lovely snap. Andrew Swallow was outstanding with 29 disposals including 10 centre clearances. Another highlight was the two bounces and long goal by Kieron Harper in the second quarter. Petrie’s haul took him to fourth on the AFL goal kicking ladder with 43 goals, whilst he also sat fourth for contested marks in the AFL. [xv] He finished the season with 58 goals and 147 marks.[xvi]


Game Thirteen – 24 August 2014: North Melbourne versus Adelaide, Blunstone Arena

North Melbourne
4.3  5.6  9.12  14.17 (101)

Adelaide              2.3  5.7  10.11, 13.16 (94)


Best players: Ziebell, Firrito, Bastinac, Swallow, Cunnington, Dal Santo, Greenwood, Goldstein.

Multiple Goalkickers: Ziebell 4, Petrie 3, Turner 2, Bastinac 2.


This was a vital Round 22 game for North (6th) against Adelaide (8th). The lead fluctuated for much of the match in what the Age called a game of ‘finals intensity’. But midfielder Jack Ziebell’s four goals from 25 disposals (plus eight marks) proved decisive. Michael Firrito was equally important in defence with 19 disposals and five marks.[xvii] Other highlights included a smart goal by Goldstein and a strong mark and goal by Ziebell in the first quarter, snaps by Ben Brown and Ziebell in the third quarter, and left foot snaps by Bastinac and Petrie in the final quarter.


Game Fourteen – 7 June 2015: North Melbourne versus West Coast, Blundstone Arena


North Melbourne 4.4  5.4   9.6  13.7 (85)

West Coast          1.4  5.11  7.12  10.15 (75)


Best players: Higgins, Ziebell, Harvey, Goldstein, Petrie, Brown, Bastinac, Wright.

Multiple Goalkickers: Higgins 4, Brown 3.


This was a vital match for North (11th) to stay in touch with the final eight against second placed West Coast. On a very windy day in Tasmania, the lead swung throughout the match. North looked in trouble when West Coast drew level mid-way through the last quarter coming home with the wind advantage. But an outstanding goal under pressure by Jack Ziebell, who was arguably best on ground with 24 disposals, restored the lead. Further goals from Goldstein on the run and Higgins sealed the game.[xviii] Higgins was excellent with 22 disposals and four goals. Other highlights included a clever goal by Lindsay Thomas, a nice goal on the run by Sam Gibson, and a strong mark and snap by Ben Brown in the opening quarter, long goals by Higgins and Boomer Harvey and a clever goal by Ben Brown in the third quarter.


Game Fifteen – 29 April 2016: North Melbourne versus Western Bulldogs, Etihad Stadium


North Melbourne 4.1  5.4  8.6  9.7 (61)

Western Bulldogs 2.1  3.4  6.6  6.9 (45)


Best players: Waite, Thompson, Wells, Swallow, Petrie, Ziebell, Tarrant, McDonald, Cunnington.

Multiple Goalkickers: Waite 4.


This was a heavy weight Round 6 clash. North was top playing the second placed Bulldogs in front of 47,000 fans at Etihad. North led most of the night, but it was a close, low scoring battle throughout. Jarrod Waite was arguably best on ground with four goals and seven marks plus 13 disposals. He was now equal top of the AFL goal kicking ladder. Daniel Wells had a brilliant first quarter, and finished with 27 disposals and five centre clearances. Scott Thompson led the defence finishing with 26 disposals and nine marks.[xix]


Other highlights included a smart pass by Thomas for Higgins to goal, plus a classy goal by Waite in the opening quarter; a mark by Waite followed by a pass to Ziebell who drilled a long goal in the second quarter; a sharp mark and goal by Thomas, a mark and long goal by Waite, a great snap by Petrie and terrific marks in defence by Tarrant and Ziebell in the third quarter; and a classic contested mark and goal by Waite in the final quarter.




[i] Martin Blake (1998) ‘Struggling Roos ride a break to victory’, The Age, 4 May; Jake Niall (1998) ‘Escape artists supreme do the expected again’, The Age, 4 May.

[ii] Linda Pearce (1999) ‘It’s not all despair for Demons’, The Age, 21 June.

[iii] Greg Denham (2000) ‘Roos end Magpie high’, The Age, 16 April.

[iv] Andrew Ramsey (2002) ‘Superstar caught in the ugly spotlight of notoriety’, The Australian, 14 March; Rohan Connolly (2002) ‘Sad day for a legend and club’, The Age, 14 March; Jake Niall (2002) ‘I’m sorry: Carey quits over affair with teammate’s wife’, The Age, 14 March; Wayne Carey and Charles Happell (2009) The Truth Hurts. MacMillan. Sydney, pp.221-224.

[v] Robert Walls (2002) ‘Team countdown Kangaroos’, The Age, 20 March.

[vi] Alan Shiell (2002) ‘In their storm, Roos find Port’, The Age, 31 March.

[vii] Peter Hanlon (2003) ‘Roos break game open’, The Age, 1 June.

[viii] Tim Watson (2004) ‘Kangaroos’, The Age, 9 March.

[ix] Jake Niall (2004) ‘Midfield musketeers to fore as Roos continued to defy odds’, The Age, 29 March.

[x] Stephen Rielly (2005) ‘All hail the Shinboner spirit’, The Age, 8 August; Malcolm Conn (2005) ‘Roos’ dynamic duo selfless’, The Australian, 10 August; Roosnews Year Book 2005, p.43.

[xi] Martin Boulton (2006) ‘Roos manage to fend off Blues’, The Age, 24 June; Roosnews Year Book 2006, p.47.

[xii] Stephen Rielly (2007) ‘Demons haunted by late Roos revival’, The Age, 28 May.

[xiii] Emma Quayle (2008) ‘Grant goes from villain’, The Age, 20 April.

[xiv] Michael Gleeson (2009) ‘Saints stuck in nowhere land’, The Age, 24 August.

[xv] Matt Murnane (2012) ‘Tigers beaten by the bounce’, The Age, 23 July; Rohan Connolly (2012) ‘Petrie turning it on when it counts’, The Age, 23 July;

[xvi] True North: The official yearbook of the North Melbourne Football Club, p.68.

[xvii] Peter Hanlon (2014) ‘Ziebell steps forward for Roos’, The Age, 24 August.

[xviii] Courtney Walsh (2015) ‘Kangas blow cold and hot to beat Eagles’, The Australian, 8 June; Michael Gleeson (2015) ‘North fight wind, Eagles for victory’, The Age, 8 June.

[xix] Glenn McFarlane (2016) ‘Smart Roos stifle Dogs’, Herald Sun, 30 April; Courtney Walsh (2016) ‘Waite’s big four lift Roos to maintain unbeaten run’, The Australian, 30 April.



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About Philip Mendes

Philip Mendes is an academic who follows AFL, soccer, tennis and cricket. He supported Fitzroy Football Club from 1970-1996, and on their death he adopted the North Melbourne Kangaroos as his new team. In his spare time, he occasionally writes about his current and past football teams.


  1. great memories, Philip

  2. Interesting as always Philip.

    Now as you’ve only followed North Melbourne since the death of Fitzroy you’re probably not the best versed in the club history. Maybe Smokie?

    Can someone list their 15 best victories from 1969-1972? These were my first four years of following footy. Obviously the sole victory of 1972, over South Melbourne is one of them, I can think of at least three other good wins in that period.



  3. Philip – Much as it pains me to recollect it but I’m surprised you haven’t included the 2003 win over Richmond in what will forever be known as the Jason McCartney match. It was a classic seesawing game with a fairy tale finish for North fans.

  4. matt watson says

    Philip, great memories here.
    I was at the MCG when North fell over the line against Melbourne in 2007.
    At the Melbourne President’s lunch.
    Going mad in the final minutes, surrounded by Melbourne supporters…

  5. Philip Mendes says

    Stainless, yes that’s definitely another victory that would rank highly given the broader implications of the match. Although despite the wider meaning, I would argue it probably wasn’t the highest standard game.

    Matt, yes those North-Melb matches in the late 90s were quite brutal. I was furious when they came again early in 98 after we had hit the front from a long way behind. Even more so when some young Melbourne-supporting tall private school types kept blocking my view in the last few minutes. It was tremendous to knock them off in the Prelim Final that year.

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