Round 13 – North Melbourne v GWS: Brendan, Beanies, and Blundstone.


My 23-year-old son Brendan had been gifted a few travel vouchers for his 21st birthday, but they were about to expire. So I suggested the option of his purchasing return flights to Hobart on a weekend when North Melbourne would be playing. The clincher for him was when I said that his mother and I would also make the journey.


Almost immediately after he organized his flights – and before I could book mine – there was a change in my plans: I had been asked to participate in Stereo Stories at the Willy Lit Fest, on the very same weekend. It was with heavy heart that I informed Brendan that I would not be travelling south, but I assured him that he would still have a great weekend taking in a city which he had never before visited. Fortunately, he was understanding, as he knows how much Stereo Stories means to me. Two weeks ago, my wife Marg floated the idea of me surprising our son by flying down on the Sunday morning unannounced. At first I baulked, but then warmed to the idea when I realised that a few rostered days off from work meant that I could stay for an extra day or two.


“Where are we having breakfast?” I texted upon arrival in Hobart early on Sunday. To say Brendan was startled was an understatement. “What the hell?” was his reply. But I knew that he was more than  pleased to see me. We had a pleasant coffee and croissant in a bakery in Battery Point, surely one of Australia’s most unique and beautifully preserved suburbs. Not long after the sun had passed the yardarm, we were sampling different varieties of Cascade in the bar of the Shipwrights Arms. As the nectar passed my lips, I was silently offering thanks to my wife for her wisdom.


The bakery in Battery Point: Brendan (sans beanie) is just so thrilled to see me.


After waiting an inordinate length of time for the Bellerive bus, we decided to instead make our way to the ground in an Uber, which are plentiful in Hobart. Brendan has taken to wearing a beanie constantly, and has accumulated a collection of them. He announced that he was purchasing a North beanie as, amazingly, he did not already own one. I chuckled at the thought that there was a time, in my teens, that I was a beanie-wearer.


This was my fifth visit to Blundstone Arena for a Roos match; each time I have been stationed at a different vantage point – from the luxury of the Blundstone box to the chilly hill on the outer. This time, through Brendan’s footy teammate Zac, we have secured a couple of tickets behind the glass in a North Melbourne members’ room – a bonus, given the chill in the winter air. How I managed to secure myself a ticket to join Brendan inside without him knowing is a story in itself. Let’s just say that I owe Zac a beer.


The first half was a tough, keenly-contested affair. North were right in the game, answering every Giants challenge. Indeed, the scores were tied at 45-all at the main break. Then, as I sagely predicted to my son at half time, the game blew open in the second half. Unfortunately for us, it was GWS which did the detonating. The Giants midfield, led by star players Josh Kelly, Tim Taranto, Steven Coniglio and Jacob Hopper were dominant and downright scary with their combination of toughness and polish. And naturally, Toby Greene chose the Kangaroos to demonstrate that he is indeed a rare talent. Kudos, though, to Robbie Tarrant and Scott Thompson, who held Jeremy Cameron to a solitary goal.


With Shaun Higgins injured, and 200-gamer Ben Cunnington blanketed by De Boer, North’s lack of midfield depth was exposed. Larkey is not strong enough yet to provide the Jarrod Waite-type support for Ben Brown. The Kangaroos are still a work in progress, whilst the Giants are now a seasoned, finals-hardened outfit. Brendan was increasingly downcast, cursing North’s errors, but I was more realistic: “They are now second on the ladder, they are not a bad team.”


The free bus back to Hobart (simply a wonderful concept) passed in near silence. Our spirits were lifted by a couple of pizzas for dinner, before Brendan made his way to the airport for the flight home. I asked him what he thought of Hobart. “Bloody beautiful,” he replied. I agreed. This city has grown on me considerably over the past few years. I got the feeling he immensely enjoyed his weekend in Hobart despite the result.


We all lead busy lives, so days at the footy with my sons do not come around too often. But I reckon Brendan and I will always remember this day together at Blundstone.



NORTH MELBOURNE     3.0       7.3       8.6       10.8 (68)
GWS GIANTS                        3.2       7.3       11.6     14.7  (91)


North Melbourne:
 Brown 2, Thomas 2, Turner 2, Ziebell, Garner, Dumont, Larkey
GWS Giants: Greene 3, Coniglio 2, Hopper, Tomlinson, Williams, Kelly, Taranto, Deledio, Cameron, Himmelberg, Finlayson


North Melbourne: Anderson, Williams, Tarrant, Atley, Zeibell
GWS Giants: 
Kelly, Coniglio, Taranto, Hopper, Greene, Mumford




3. J. Kelly (GWS), 2. T. Taranto (GWS), 1. T. Greene (GWS).



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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Rulebook says

    Well played,Smokie sounds like a great bonding day despite the result.Toby Greene is there barometer for mine he’s vital for GWS while at times he can do silly things he is the igniter of there forward line
    How did Trent Dumont go ? Your thoughts on his year ( Trent may have received a phone call earlier in the year from yours truly re his Norwood Past Players and Officials Membership)

  2. Mark Duffett says

    Very glad you were around to do the write-up, Smokie, thanks for this. I was feeling I ought to, but it was all a bit hard to record thoughts while standing on the hill. Which was indeed on the cool side after the sun went down at half time. Mental note to self – bring a beer cup insulator next time. At least I remembered my militantly neutral Crows beanie.

    Such a pity – it had been a beautiful winter afternoon. Between that and being a school night, I’m sure the fixture would have attracted the few thousand extra needed to crack five figures had it been scheduled a couple of hours earlier. I thought the match was affected too, as bit of dew made its presence felt. Did you reckon the skills as well as the contest deteriorated after half time, Smokie?

    Watching live, the high hit for which Ben Brown was eventually reported just looked clumsily accidental; careless at worst. He ought to get off.

    Even better than free buses is Bicycle Tasmania’s valet service. Just rock up and leave your bike within metres of the gate, then back on it and home before many would have even reached their cars. The only way to fly – literally in this case, as a thoughtlessly placed lump of concrete interrupted my slightly unorthodox route alongside the East Derwent Highway. Never mind, nothing a couple of band-aids and a bit of work on the left brake handle won’t fix.

    Hobart does indeed grow on one. Did Brendan have a chance to take in some of the Dark Mofo installations? Usually worth a squiz if down here at this time of year.

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