Round 13 – North Melbourne v GWS: the addiction returns


Just when I thought I was in control of the addiction and my footy season moods were no longer dictated by the ups and mostly downs of North Melbourne.


And I had discovered a fatalistic, mature, philosophical middle ground and accepted North were on a long journey of twists and turns, valleys and the occasional slow rise.


And my football emotions had turned to my local club, West Preston Lakeside Roosters, back-to-back premiers and looking good again in Division one in the Northern Football and Netball League.


Where my weekend footy highlight is found on road trips to Greensborough and the hills of Hurstbridge and in the ¾ time huddle, feeling the love and community spirit, like back in the day with Old Collegians in the Bool, smiling peacefully to myself, straining an ear towards the coach.


I’ve attended three North games – losses to Port, Collingwood and Essendon – and taken the good with the bad.


I was on the Portarlington beach Good Friday and missed the 100-point thumping at the hands of the Dogs. Whatever. I didn’t expect North to win a game all season, so beating Hawthorn was a bonus.


I’ve enjoyed the season from afar mostly. The emergence of Simpkin and Davies-Uniacke; flashes of brilliance and stupidy by Zurhaar; the return of Cunners; the form of Goldy; the coach.


We’ll be right, I tell Eloise whenever she asks if North are off the bottom of the ladder. We’ll get there. Tough for a 9 year-old to swallow.


Sunday, we spent a few relaxing hours in a St Kilda park with old school mates and families, enjoying the gentle winter sun. We talked COVID, kids, and the apparent threat to national security posed by one little refugee family who just want to return to the regional QLD community they call home. Footy barely got a mention.


The game starts as we arrive home. The radio is on in the background. I’m doing a few jobs, paying scant attention.


Then Cunners goals after the half-time siren to give North the lead and something clicks in my head and I tip over. I’m emotionally involved again.


Half-time passes slowly. I’m firing texts here, there and everywhere. I bring in a load of washing.


North dominate the third term: control of the centre corridor, belief and system. Twenty-eight points up at the last change.


Eloise and I put on our guernseys in preparation for a victory selfie to be sent off to everyone we know in the universe. I want to go the early crow. She talks me out of it. Smart kid.


As they’ve done all season, North lose concentration; the Giants goal twice early in the last term.


Game on and that all too familiar sinking feeling grips my stomach. I want to return to my peaceful ¾ time West Preston state of mind, but it’s too late, I’m all in.


I pace the house – kitchen, lounge, bedrooms, bathroom, toilet, laundry, outside, inside. Repeat.


I’m supposed to be preparing dinner for Eloise. All I’m feeding her is minute by minute scores. She’s sort of interested but not as much as in The Next Step on Netflix.


I’m all alone. Consumed.


My heart is beating out of my chest.


I’m yelling at the radio.


My phone is going into meltdown.


How did I get back here? What has triggered the relapse?


Answer: hope.


Because there’s one thing worse than being the bottom team 10 goals down at three-quarter time. That’s being 5 goals in front.


It’s excruciating.


The Warrnambool Boy has his best players around the contest. Mummy is getting his hand to the ball and Taranto, Kelly and Greene are making the clearances.


North are coughing this up. The Giants force North wide. They kick out on the full. The Giants attack, Lloyd goals twice to make the scores even and could have scored again but misses everything.


Hall kicks out on the full as the final siren goes. Kennedy’s torp from outside the 50 falls short.


It’s a draw that feels like a loss.


Eloise makes a sad face on her plate with her vegies. I have to force my dinner down.


Next day, as I write this under the peppercorn tree overlooking Edgars Wetland, with the benefit of a debrief with a Roo mate, broken night’s sleep and game highlights on re-run, I feel a bit better. Well, that’s what I’m telling myself.



NORTH MELBOURNE                5.1    9.4   13.7   14.10 (94)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY   4.1    8.4    8.9    14.10 (94)


North Melbourne: Zurhaar 2, Larkey 2, Cunnington 2, Thomas 2, Davies-Uniacke, Goldstein, Mahony, Powell, Scott, Stephenson
Greater Western Sydney: Finlayson 2, Lloyd 2, Himmelberg 2, Flynn 2, Kelly 2, Greene, Taranto, Ward, Hill


North Melbourne: Simpkin, Cunnington, Zurhaar, Goldstein, Hall, Stephenson
Greater Western Sydney: Kelly, Haynes, Cumming, Taranto, Hopper, Flynn


North Melbourne: Nil
Greater Western Sydney: Nil


North Melbourne: Taylor (unused)
Greater Western Sydney: O’Halloran (unused)


Crowd: 3,462 at Blundstone Arena


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE



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  1. John Butler says

    Starkers, there’s no doubt it’s a kind of madness. But there are much worse kinds to have.

    If you Kangas need any advice about rebuilds, just come see us Baggers down at Royal Parade. We’re clearly right across the subject now. :(


  2. Andrew Starkie says

    JB, Good to hear from you. All the best with the bookshop. Will drop in when in tow next. Go Roos.

  3. A nice piece, Starkers.
    That was a very disappointing result. I was watching with my middle son, who turned to me after the first GWS goal in the last quarter and said “We are going to lose this, aren’t we?”
    The positive: with North Melbourne, at least there is absolutely no ambiguity about where we are. Witness the hand-wringing over St Kilda and Carlton not living up to expectations this year.

  4. Andrew Starkie says

    SMoke, if more people cared about NM, there would be greater scrutiny on what has happened the last few seasons. The club has been stripped bare.

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