Almanac Football: Respectfully, Rhyce and North Melbourne must part ways

This piece by Andrew Starkie was written before yesterday’s announcement that Rhyce Shaw and North Melbourne were officially parting ways.



This is a delicate topic, made even more so because we don’t know the full story. So, let’s stick with the facts we do know.


Firstly, I wish Rhyce health and happiness; I can’t imagine what he’s going through.


But, respectfully, he and North Melbourne should come to terms and part ways.


His health problems mean he is currently incapable of doing the job and we don’t know how long for. ‘Indefinite leave’ could easily drag on, and North can’t afford to wait.


At the beginning of a long and painful rebuild, North need someone who can last the journey, an experienced senior coach.


Only Rhyce knows to what extent his health problems impacted him this season. The bottom line is, he did not coach well.


The Kangaroos won the first two games and only one more, against Adelaide, when they were at their lowest. North finished equal last with the Crows and, by season’s end, were the worst team in the competition by a long way.


Hub-life appeared tough for North and, once the losses started, camaraderie and confidence fell away. North were often listless, lacking leadership on and off-field.


Selection errors early in the season didn’t help. Cunnington, our best player, was allowed to play when he could barely run and his season was ruined. Ziebell, our captain, returned from injury too soon and his season was as good as ruined.


Brown – 60 plus goals for the past three seasons – had an interrupted pre-season, started slowly and was dropped midway through. At no point was he declared a required player, even after rumours of trade bait grew.


Neither Carey nor Blight would have kicked goals for North this year.


The coach’s box showed stunned, silent looks and Rhyce’s post-game press conferences were excruciating.


The morning after the last round, 11 players were cut and coaching staff followed. Tarrant – best defender and acting-captain – and Higgins, our most skilful player, have put their hands up.


North have gone from being a club no-one wanted to leave to having a queue out the door.


Meanwhile, Turner – didn’t play this year due to injury – has signed for two seasons and Garner – played one game – for one.


Last Friday, 5pm, North Melbourne released a statement announcing Rhyce’s leave.  We all know when politicians, banks, and now football clubs, release statements at this time, they hope it gets buried. Fair enough; Rhyce’s privacy needs to be protected.


For the second time in about 18 months, North Melbourne do not have a senior coach. With a busy off-season, draft and trade period ahead, who is in charge?


AFL clubs can’t exist in a holding pattern. As Scott Thompson said when he retired at the end of 2019, there won’t be time to miss him because footy clubs move on quickly. It’s all about the now and the future. Players and coaches come and go, new sponsors and members are sought, pre-season rolls around.


Footy is about hope. A club must be seen to be moving forward with plans and vision. A club’s greatest source of hope – for members, players, staff, sponsors, media – is the coach.


North have committed to a rebuild and need an experienced senior coach with energy, temperament and vision, not another ‘caretaker’, or worse, a ‘mentor’ with a plan to hand over the job in two years to an assistant.


Of course, all this means nothing if North can’t afford to pay out Rhyce and have enough left over to find a decent replacement. Do they go cap in hand to Gil?


Rhyce has two years left on his contract and is under no obligation to leave. Problem is, North need to begin rebuilding hope now. They need to sit down, reach an agreement and move on.


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  1. Where do we start, mate?

    I’d love to have a beer with you soonish to discuss all this.
    I have a few stories to tell you about what’s been happening on the inside.

  2. Andrew Starkie says

    Absolutely, Smoke. We Roos need to stick together.

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