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Round 10 – Sydney v North Melbourne: The Magic of Marn Grook

The Indigenous Round is my favourite week of the football season. It’s a true celebration of culture that is educating a nation. The inaugural Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round has thrust an incredibly talented and brave man, so generous of spirit, into the public spotlight. His story is an inspiration. His story needs to be told.


Telling his fascinating story this week has been Nicholls’ vivacious daughter, Aunty Pam. She has provided wonderful insight into her father’s life. Martin Flanagan once said that what people see in Michael Long is a luminous sincerity. The same can most certainly be said of Aunty Pam. The game needs people like her – intelligent, refreshing and infectious.


To commence this year’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, the Swannies and the Kangas faced off in the annual Marn Grook clash. Generally speaking, Marn Grook was a football game, which featured punt kicking and catching a stuffed “ball”. It involved large numbers of players, and games were played over an extremely sizeable area. To observers, the game appeared to lack a team objective, having no tangible rules, scoring or winner. Individual players who consistently exhibited outstanding skills, such as leaping high over others to catch the ball, were celebrated – as they should be.


After a pre-match of artistry and allurement, reflective of those carefree times, the match began with our very own Buddy taking the first shot at goal. This one would miss, but it would not be long until he would caress through two majors in as many minutes in typical trademark fashion. Buddy Franklin possesses all the power and poise of an Archie Roach lyric – exquisite, raw and compelling. The originality of Roach’s voice can only be matched in football parlance by the uniqueness of Franklin’s talent.


North’s Lindsay Thomas is shining for the opposition and is helping his side cling on to the contest with the barest of traction. The Bloods have met this match with fervor and verve. An early five-goal lead ensues.


The stands of the grand old cricket ground have witnessed many an iconic moment over the years, and it was this time last year when the ninth Indigenous Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes, performed his war cry in celebration of a goal. A proud Indigenous man performing an Indigenous war cry in the Indigenous Round provoked a response that confused me, and still does. It was exhilarating: a tribute to his people and communities all over Australia. Prior to this year’s Dreamtime game, players from both Richmond and Essendon performed pre-match war cries of their own. We may just be progressing.


A further sign of progression this year has been the creation of the Goodes–O’Loughlin medal for the best on ground in the Marn Grook match. These two Bloods Brothers were favourite sons of the SCG for an eternity. Held in the highest of esteem throughout the game, this recognition is most fitting. Both were creative, powerful, skillful, courageous, resilient and tenacious. In their finest moments of rarified prowess, they imitated all the ethereal beauty and grace of a Paddy Bedford painting – spellbinding.


The match is as many predicted. It is tight, congested and fiercely fought. Both teams are doing their indigenous jumpers proud and a match of this magnitude demands this. T. Mitchell, J. Kennedy and D. Hannebery are influencing the contest consistently this year and tonight was no different. For the three of them, contested possessions, clearances and tackles are the elixir of life. K. Jack, J.Lloyd and J. McVeigh propel the team forward and Franklin fires the forwards into action, as eleven Swans share in the goals.


Apart from a second term resistance, the home side appears comfortable throughout, stamping their impressive premiership credentials. Tommy Mitchell is the first recipient of our champions’ medal and forty-thousand Bloods leave happy. A wonderful night to begin a wonderful round, and a heavyweight bout that didn’t disappoint.


Football is as much about community as life is about learning. Wherever the community, the game binds people from all walks of life. The importance of this round is to recognise the wonderful contribution of our indigenous footballers from communities across Australia. It’s a celebration of culture and a priceless opportunity to learn and embrace everything that comes with our national indigenous heritage. Long may this continue.


Sydney 14.7 (91)

North Melbourne 9.11 (65)



Sydney: Mitchell, Kennedy, Tippett, Hannebery, Grundy, McVeigh, Franklin, Lloyd.

North Melbourne: Cunnington, Brown, Thomas, MacMillan, Ziebell.


Sydney: Franklin 3, McVeigh 2, Kennedy, Hewett, Cunningham, Jones, Hannebery, Heeney, Rohan, McGlynn, Mitchell.

North Melbourne: Thomas 3, Brown, Dumont, MacMillan, Nahas, Wells.

Umpires: Harris, Ryan, Jeffery.

Crowd: 38,598 at SCG.


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About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979


  1. jan courtin says

    Yes Joe, a very important week of the footy season that should be embraced by all.

  2. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Jan. Couldn’t agree more!

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