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Round 11 – North Melbourne v Sydney: The Mopsy Rantall Cup

North Melbourne v Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium – Round 11, 13 June, 2015

I’m off to the Docklands with my big brother Tony to see the Roos and Swans play for the Heart Kids Cup. Heart Kids is a very worthy cause with ambassadors from both clubs, Glen Archer and Jarrad McVeigh supporting it due to their well-documented personal situations. I’m thinking though that the Cup could be named after a notable identity who served both clubs with distinction. After some consideration I am of the view that the John “Mopsy” Rantall Cup would be appropriate.

Mopsy was for a long time the Swans games record holder with 260 games between 1963 and 1979. Coming from Cobden in western Victoria he burst on to the scene with South Melbourne in the early `60s as a reliable, skilful and attacking half back. I saw more of him in the later stages of his career when he was at fullback. He was rarely beaten. When you consider he played at 182cm/77kg, which is smaller than our current co-captain McVeigh, who plays mid-field and small defender, it was a remarkable achievement. Mopsy was our Captain in 1969, when Bobby Skilton missed the year injured, and featured in our finals teams of 1970 and 1977.

Of course he disappeared from the Lakeside Oval for three years from 1973-75 heading cross town to be part of the great North Melbourne team of the era, play 70 solid games and be a member of their first Premiership team. He is a member of the team of the century for both Clubs. And like most fair dinkum champions of the era he had a great moustache!

When I was growing up North and South were both perennial cellar dwellers, poor and under-resourced. I have never thought of there being a strong rivalry, more a desire to see both be competitive and successful. Of late both have been in the top half of the ladder more often than not. Last year North towelled us up in the wet at the SCG early in the year, though the Swans had the last laugh with a dominant performance in the prelim final. The Roos are talking this game up with a desire to show they are competitive against the top teams.

So the battle for the “Mopsy Cup” kicks off as a tense, contested ball game. About 10 minutes in, we switch from half back through centre to Jetta on the flank, he cuts in board and dobs a great goal from outside 50. This bloke is a joy to watch. The game ebbs and flows, another highlight being Gary Rohan’s set shot bomb from deep on the flank outside 50. I want to see Gazza get more of the ball to go along with the great pressure he applies in the front half. We go in five points up at the break, though I think we have the better of it.

The second stanza sees us take control. Although Goldstein is controlling the ruck and Cunnington the clearances for the Roos, we are transitioning beautifully through middle field and set up second goals for Buddy, Tippo and Gazza. The play is all in our half, Luke Parker looks like he has his own ball, while the back half led by “The Tache” Dane Rampe are repelling anything that gets through and setting up the play. When Buddy gets on the end of a handball and drills his third from the 50 metre line we are six goals up and looking set. If not for a bad late turnover from the otherwise brilliant Rampe, North would have gone goal-less for the quarter.

North come out after the main break with more intent and two quick goals to the classy Higgins has cut the lead to 20 points. The second of these goals is after a fierce attack on the ball from Ziebell in a marking contest that has left our Hannebery on the ground in a heap looking in a bad way. He hobbles, shuffles to the bench with support of the trainers. Ribs? Nasty.

A steadying goal comes from Harry Cunningham after he courageously backs in to the space at centre half forward to mark a beautiful hooked pass from Jets, whose use of the ball has been exquisite tonight. The remainder of the quarter is tight, with the highlight being two clever goals from Goodesy that keeps us around 3 to 4 goals up. Turnover goals courtesy of Rhys Shaw getting caught with the ball a couple of times gives the Roos a glimmer of hope coming into the last stanza.

An early right foot snap goal from Hannas gives us breathing space. This bloke is indestructible. Mid quarter I think we have it in the bag, though I comment to Tony that there is enough time for North to get up. They have more run and control of the ball than us and are peppering the goals. Two quick ones finally have them only 12 points down with about 10 minutes to play. We dig deep and the defence is superb. Along with “The Tache”, Jeremy Laidler is fantastic, marking or spoiling everything that comes his way and Macca is steady and creative as always. The Roos have their chances, with imports Waite and Higgins both missing gettable set shots.

We hold firm. Parks breaks free of a congested pack, as he has done all night passes in board and Rhysie redeems past errors breaking through the middle to find Buddy on the lead dead in front just outside the 50 metre line. He calmly goes back and drills the goal that others at the opposite end could not. It’s his fourth goal. He is a champion. North has been courageous, though I think we have been the better team for most of the night, with the better players. The “Mopsy Cup” in ours.

A final word on our current games record holder, Adam Goodes. He has played game 360 tonight, and kicked goal number 450 with his three goals. My hands are sore from my constant clapping of his every touch. He still has the guile and speed to impact significantly as a 35 year old. He is a gem, and I bet that Mopsy would be delighted and proud that first Mickey O, then Goodesy have passed his record games mark.

Votes: 3. Parker 2 Jetta 1 McVeigh (Apologies to the The Tache and Buddy).



About Keiran Croker

Keiran is a lifelong Swans supporter, despite a brief dalliance with the Cats and Tigers in primary school years. Family connections to Port Melbourne and South Melbourne demanded loyalty to the Swans. The long wait for success was worth it.


  1. Peter Fuller says

    There is a nice piece of symmetry in your report. In your account of the game, two of the first four players you mention – Ben Cunnington and Gary Rohan both come from Mopsy Rantall’s original club, Cobden – which fact you have noted in your intro. This tiny town has managed to punch well above its weight in producing footballers for the top flight certainly from the days of Thorold Merrett until the present where Thorold’s great-nephews (?) (Jackson and Zach) are currently on Essendon’s senior list.

  2. Ross Treverton says

    Nice piece Kieran. Thank goodness you didn’t call it the “Barry Goodingham Cup”.

  3. Michael Crawford says

    Or the Maurice Boyse Cup!

  4. Kieran,
    I like the idea of North playing for the Mopsy Rantall Cup.
    I wonder why North let him go back to South at the end of 1975. He was so damn good in the grand final.. He could’ve been a dual premiership player. He might’ve been the difference in 76 and 78.
    Perhaps he just wanted to go…
    Ross – Barry Goodingham was a bit player in the 75 grand final. Interviewed him once. Loved North, loved footy, loved playing at the Swans.
    Michael, Maurice Boyse played in the 1978 grand final and kicked two goals. He probably wouldn’t have played if North weren’t buggered by injuries. Played 75 games. Kicked more points than goals. He’d be an interesting interview…

  5. Ross Treverton says

    John Rantall was a Swan through and through. The Norm Smith biography ‘Red Fox’ tells of him agonising over the offer by North prior to the start of the 1973 season. Things were so bad at South at the time, both on and off the field, that Smith told him he had to go. Which of course he did, but coming home to the lake was always going to happen.

  6. Other lesser known players to represent both clubs: Greg Miller, Denis Pagan, Glenn Gorman, Gareth John, John Murphy, Robert Kerr, Shane Zantuck, Daryl Cumming

  7. Michael Crawford says

    Even lesser known: Mick Stilo from Benalla.

  8. Mick Stilo, early 70’s. John Murphy, and even more so Daryl Cumming were certainly footy nomads.

    Daryl Henderson played for North Melbourne and Sydney.

    If we want to have a prize awarded to the best player who played for North Melbourne and Sydney, maybe Robert Kerr. Looking at the names listed most, if not all, played for the long gone South Melbourne not Sydney. John Rantall retired long before Sydney played their first game.


  9. Keiran Croker says

    I was thinking of going with the Gary “Crazy Horse” Cowton Cup! It has a nice ring to it!

  10. Keiran Croker says


    There is no such thing as Sydney’s first game. It is one continuous history.

    Thanks for all the feedback and the nominations for North/Swans players.

    Cheers, Keiran.

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