Preliminary Final – West Coast v North Melbourne: Nervous about not being nervous

2nd Preliminary Final

West Coast V North Melbourne

Saturday 27 September, 2015

Domain Stadium


It’s 12.15am, and I’m the last person left in a little bar in Canberra called 11Straight. Without giving too much away, it’s possible that I shouldn’t drive. For the fourth time in history, West Coast have just won on the last Saturday in September.

For the first time though, they have to come back next week for the Grand Final.

11Straight is the name of my downstairs barroom, so at least that solves the driving problem. I’ve just come back down to collect my thoughts after putting West Coast Aidan to bed. 11S is in full mood-lighting mode, and in the background Spy vs Spy’s Clarity of mind is playing. Even putting aside a smokin’ guitar solo, the sentiment seems a fair one.

Grand finals are a beautiful thing. When your team is in the GF and has a plausible chance of actually winning it, well, that’s why you invest your soul in caring about this stuff. When Aidan first started following footy he was seduced by the raw courage and skill of Nick Riewoldt and he supported the Saints through their epic and soul-destroying grand final heartache of 2009-10.

Excuse me for a moment while I fill in on air-drums for Cheap Trick’s Dream Police.

So last year he came to me and said that he was changing to support West Coast. I told him no way could he do that, you support who you support, and that’s how footy works. I don’t like the way people just assume they have to adopt the beliefs around them without forming their own opinion, and Aidan supporting West Coast because I do made me very uncomfortable. However, with the directness that kids have and adults lose, he told me his motivation was simply that when we watched football he wanted us to both be supporting the same team. A subtle difference, but to me, a sublimely gorgeous one.

Tonight, lying on his bed sharing our dreams for next weekend, he was proven uncompromisingly right. Kids haven’t learned the guile and protective behaviours adults have had forced onto them. He is excited and scared and fascinated and wishes we weren’t playing and hopes we win and is already thinking about what snacks to buy and who will wear which hat and scarf and who gets to wear the jumper and what pizza we’ll have. I’m just excited and scared.

Also, I’m pretty sure I get the bodgy hat.

Tonight we watched the Prelim in 11S. Going into the game I wasn’t as nervous as I expected, which made me nervous. In the Qualifying Final Aidan watched the first 30 seconds, and then had to leave the room for the entire game as he was too nervous to watch. Tonight he watched 80% of the game, which shows how confident he was that we were going to get the job done. I think we both knew that we were always going to win it, and the game really played out exactly as you would expect.

North threw everything they had at it, but much like the first prelim, these games rarely go against the natural story-line. All year people said that Freo couldn’t score enough to win a flag, and so it was. North had nothing to lose, but were always undermanned. West Coast were rusty after the break and never quite put them away, but from the first few minutes of the second quarter it looked inevitable that we would overrun them. There were no twists, and slowly, one-by-one, West Coast players got on top of their men and 10 goals to 4 after quarter time only shows how hard North worked all night against the odds.

As I type up these last thoughts, Queen has come on the playlist. Not We are the Champions, but the energy of Don’t Stop. That’s really the challenge now. This was a year I had no expectations of, until now. Simpson has really been a breath of fresh air, a coach who sounds like a mate. He answers the questions put to him, and has a new idea about how football can be played. I’m going off to listen to Aerosmith now. Dream on.


WEST COAST     0.2  3.8  8.14  10.20 (80)
NORTH MELBOURNE   3.4  4.7  5.11  7.13 (55)

West Coast:
Kennedy 2, Shuey 2, Priddis, Darling, Sheed, Wellingham, LeCras, Hill
North Melbourne: Higgins 2, Gibson, Brown, Ziebell, Garner, Turner

Wellingham (WCE)
2. Kennedy (WCE)
1. Cunnington (NM)

Official crowd: 43,080 at Domain Stadium


  1. The Roos threw the kitchen sink at the Eagles, who found a way. Good effort, if an ugly game. They can beat Hawthorn. All things being equal the Hawks are a better team, but 2 trips West in 3 weeks could haunt them late into the last quarter next week. The Eagles just need to stay in the contest for long enough to strike when fatigue kicks in.

  2. Love it Dave (and Aidan). We watched it all live on the IPad from the balcony of our Makarska apartment overlooking a millpond, crystalline Adriatic Sea. We were both very nervous, which is unusual for me. I regarded the QF as a free swing and my expectations were low of us taking on the reigning premier. This one we deserved to win based on our season and our form, so there was more to lose. Gained 3kg in nervous eating in the first half. Like the Eagles we settled down after half time, once we started to dominate, but our poor goal kicking ensured we never put them (the chip bowls) away.
    Are you going to the GF next weekend?
    The old bull and the young bull. Hot day. High scoring teams. Shades of 1989?
    Go you mighty West Coast Arao’s.

  3. The roos forwards petrie ,waite and Brown 1 goal 5 between them . In a final, that’s not enough

  4. Agree Dips. Hawthorn probably start favourites, but the intriguing question is to what extent Hawthorn’s recent shellacking was due to them being off and how much was due to WC knowing how to undo them. Either way, should be a potentially cracking GF.

    Alas Peter, Aidan and I will be back in 11Straight next week, and not at the game – though perhaps that is a good thing…

    Paubai, those bi guys were critical in the first qtr when they were the key to North getting out of the back 50, Waite in particular took big contested marks. But after the first break WC either figured out how to neutralise that, or they couldn’t keep up the level. Really, after quarter time North didn’t look like kicking a score, they were just always one kick away from controlling the ball.

  5. And by “bi guys”, I mean “big guys”. Quite changes the meaning that typo…

Leave a Comment