Round 11 – North Melbourne v Richmond: Hot and Cold

It’s cold. Bloody cold.


Blundstone Arena sits a mongrel punt from the Southern Ocean and it feels like an iceberg has lobbed beside the stadium tonight.


In the pre-game entertainment, Tim Rogers and Davey Lane cover Paul Kelly’s Leaps and bounds. Rogers pauses after singing about the clock on the silo reading 11 degrees. ‘We wish’, he says. My Bureau of Meteorology app suggests the ‘apparent’ temperature is 4.


The players enter the arena. I think back to school sport on frosty mornings, when even glancing blows to fingers, ears and shins burned pink with a bitter intensity. Will the temperature take a toll on the players tonight?


We’re close to the Tiger warm-up drills area. Dustin Martin lopes metres behind his teammates as they stride out. Is he saving his energy for later or does his body language suggest he’d rather be somewhere, anywhere but here?


An announcement is made that Kangaroo ruckman Todd Goldstein, isn’t playing. In Todd we trust at Arden Street, so it’s a huge loss – and unfamiliar terrain. Will it be no Goldstein, no North?


The night seems calm but the fireworks smoke drifts south, revealing Bellerive’s eidolon is present, albeit not the eight-goal gale we witnessed in Round 3. The quirky current must put a smile on Boomer Harvey’s face; he’s one of few wiley enough to let his kicks ride the wind here.


First bounce. Umpires and players look grateful to be unleashed. North swarm toward the Boon Stand. Daniel Wells dances through congestion to dab the first goal.


The Roos launch with such ferocity the Tigers look stunned. By quarter time, North have 20 forward arc entries to Richmond’s seven. The scoreboard doesn’t reflect the gulf in intensity.


In the second session, the dew must be taking effect. Both sides slip, slide and skid like amateur ice-skaters.


At the long break, it’s 2.9 degrees and the queues for the lavatories stretch 30 metres. One local advises men to use the hand dryer before the urinal, to avoid frostbite-related injuries.


North Melbourne begin the third quarter even better than the first. The Roos add 5.2 in only 27 possessions, almost as if their opponents stayed in the dressing rooms.


This frenetic pace isn’t sustainable and the contest cadence slows. Tiger captain Trent Cotchin is doing his best to inspire but few teammates follow his lead. Shaun Grigg racks up possessions. Alex Rance is giving Jarrad Waite a headache. Shaun Hampson is taking advantage of Goldstein’s absence. And none of it results in scoreboard pressure.


For the Kangaroos, Ben Cunnington controls the fall of the ball, Nick Dal Santo runs and links tirelessly. Perhaps chastened by their performance against Sydney, the Roos’ midfield has almost total control.


As the final quarter opens, the apparent temperature is 1.6 degrees. The crowd is announced as 17,844, a gathering worthy of this first ever night game in the Apple Isle.


Richmond manage three goals in their most productive session but their fans are headed for home and hearth, the game well and truly iced. Boomer slots a couple more to finish with four. Wells dances on and bookends the match with his third.


Four Tigers are injured and now a Roo joins the casualty list. With all the stretcher intrusions, the match could go all night. Indeed, I wonder if the mercury will beat the final siren and hit zero. Improbably, it’s up to 2.3 degrees when time is called.


North Melbourne won this game with two red-hot periods of play and percolating pressure throughout. A 70-point win, when missing key personnel, should warm all supporters’ hearts.


North Melbourne: 5.4 7.9 13.13 18.16 (124)
Richmond: 1.5 3.8 4.10 7.12 (54)


North Melbourne: Harvey 4; Wells 3; Thomas, Wood 2; Brown, Daw, Atley, Cunnington, Dal Santo, Macmillan, Petrie.
Richmond: Vickery, Riewoldt 2; Lloyd, Deledio, Miles.


North Melbourne: Wells, Cunnington, Harvey, Dal Santo, Zeibell, Brown, Daw
Richmond: Cotchin, Hampson, Grigg, Rance, Miles, Lloyd, Rioli


Umpires: Hosking, Findlay, Chamberlain
Crowd: 17,844
Our votes: Wells (NB) 3, Cunnington (NM) 2, Harvey (NM) 1.


Tim Pegler may once have sported a blonde, Dermie-like mullet, but the evidence is elusive.


  1. Good advice from the local.

    Are you going down again for Swans match? The Almanac is having Friday lunch in Hobart if you’re at a loose end.

    Should be a cracking game.

  2. Tim Pegler says

    Thanks, JTH. Sydney match under discussion, with added lunch a definite incentive.

  3. Hey Tim, I was down at Bellerive-Blundstone for last year’s NM v Richmond match. It was a glorious day, sun shining, not a breath of wind, and a terrible game of footy. I recall my 16-year old son saying to me “How can it be so cold when the sun is shining?”

  4. Peter Fuller says

    Your reference to the cold and the Tigers’ reticence in the face of it, obvious even to the television viewer, reminded me of a story from the Tigers’ power years in the 70s. On a dreadful day they were visiting the Western Oval. Graham Richmond (as well as Tom Hafey), addressed the players before they went out. The Tiger powerbroker gave a characteristic fire and brimstone speech and the players were expected to be fired up sufficient to burst through the dressing room wall. However as the players ran down the race, one of their number said to the bloke alongside him: “Ooh I’ll have the electric blanket on three tonight”.
    (By way of explanation for those of the digital age, primitive electric blankets had three settings with 3 being the warmest.)

  5. Tim Pegler says

    G’day Smokie, we were there for that one, too. Trying to start an annual tradition of Tassy game and culture!

    My memories of that match involve Lindsay having a day out. And the quarter by quarter comedy of kicking with the wind versus into it.

    It was certainly chilly – but didn’t get near last Friday night.


  6. Tim Pegler says

    Great yarn, Peter. (And yes, I’m a relic from the electric blanket era.)

    Only good dressing room story I know comes from Collingwood, where one of the coaches finished a fiery serve by yelling for the property steward to go search for a couple of extra stripes – because a key player required additional width in his guernsey.

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