Round 14 – Gold Coast v North Melbourne: Bitter pills

After sitting through another insipid North Melbourne performance on the weekend, some very painful truths were revealed to me. Bitter pills that are difficult – but necessary – to swallow. However, I can guarantee that the North Melbourne Football Club will carry on believing they are contenders, when the sad facts of the matter are contradictory in the extreme.

Here, off the top of my head, are some of the conclusions I have reached:

a) The Kangaroos have become a by-word for mediocrity. This needs no explanation. Just look at the dismal efforts against Adelaide(77 points), Fremantle (73 points), Hawthorn (10 goals), and on Saturday up north (55 points).

b) Since our top 4 finish last season, there are a number of clubs for whom the premiership window is opening, whilst ours stays painted shut. Clubs such as Richmond, the Western Bulldogs, St Kilda, Collingwood, West Coast and Port Adelaide are well ahead of North in terms another tilt at the top 4. Given that Fremantle, Hawthorn and Sydney are mainstays, and that GWS and Gold Coast have plenty of young talent, the picture for North Melbourne is clear. It’s just that the picture ain’t any way pretty.

c) There is a distinct lack of leadership amongst the so-called “next tier”. Why can’t Sam Gibson, Lachie Hansen, Lindsay Thomas, Sam Wright and co. step up? It just means that Brent Harvey is continually relied on to rally the troops when he should be relaxing and enjoying his dotage. Another consequence of this leadership vacuum is that no-one seems to have the wherewithal to step up and arrest momentum changes during a match. The third quarter against Collingwood is exhibit “a”.

d) There are too many list-cloggers at Arden St. Majak Daw is never going to make it – you cannot select a player who ; Aaron Mullett – in his fifth season – has played 48 matches; Joel Tippett was delisted by Gold Coast after they realised he was no good, but Brad Scott laughingly groomed him for a key defensive post – a myth which Taylor Walker dramatically exploded in Round 1; in his 4 senior games, Daniel Currie (now 26 years old) had footy paleontologists nodding sagely that there was a reason that dinosaurs were extinct;

e) Player development at North Melbourne is worse than virtually every other club in the AFL. Brad McKenzie (pick 18, 2011) has played 22 games in 3 and a half seasons. As a junior, he had elite skills. What has happened to him at North? In his first season, Luke McDonald last year played every game and finished fourth in the Rising Star. But for the past month he has languished in the VFL. What has happened to him? Ryan Bastinac (in his sixth season) is now just a fringe player after promising so much early on. Ben Jacobs has not come on since crossing from Port – but maybe he is just no good. And what of Ben Brown? Last week he was dropped for Majak! That would be hard to accept.

f) The list is shallow. Poor recruiting and player development (see above) means that the list – and therefore the midfield – does not run deep. Cunnington, Swallow and Ziebell have appeared to be running on empty too often this season.

g) “North’s premiership window has closed with this group of players” Matthew Lloyd made this comment. And of all the conclusions I reached on the weekend, this is the most galling – because I agree with “Lloydo” (refer point ‘b’). But really, North’s premiership window has been closed since the turn of the century.

h) Something needs to change! A statement at selection? No – a fringe player will be discarded (and recalled the following week). Big list cuts at season’s end? No – for reasons unknown, the coach is far too loyal to this group of players. Mealy-mouthed platitudes about it being “now or never”? Yep, that was ticked off by Jack Ziebell on Sunday.

Here is some free advice from a life-long North supporter. And it is almost as easy as A-B-C. The club requires a shake-up from the top down. Root and branch. Complacency and mediocrity have been too easily accepted. The AFL’s pace-setters are so far ahead that they have just about lapped us. And all of a sudden the future is not looking so rosy.

The tragedy is that North will continue to live in a fool’s paradise.


For more articles on the Gold Coast v North Melbourne game click here

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Smokie – the Roos have a lot of entrenched issues, some of which are chronic and dangerous. The list isn’t developing but there’s also the ordinary membership, facilities, supporter base, advertising and sponsorship clout, and ability to attract players. The similarities with Fitzroy are there. They just can’t afford to bottom out.

  2. More than any other club North have a huge gap between their best and worst. They were genuinely very good against my Eagles in Hobart a month ago. I wasn’t that disappointed with our loss because of how North played.
    Ben Brown kicked 3 and looked great against us, then I read that he is dropped for Majak??? Recruiting Waite was dumb by every standard (and that is not being wise in hindsight). Daniel Wells is the missing piece because of his pace and disposal skills. How much is his body and how much is his head/attitude?
    I reckon North have a decent bottom of the 8 list, but they are underachieving, whereas Adam Simpson (who did he play for?) is getting 100% out of everyone on my Eagles list.
    North have a coaching/management/culture problem. The result is LESS than the sum of its parts – like Carlton before sacking Malthouse.
    The fish rots from the head down, but the player flesh is still ok if not flag material. Clubs get too obsessed with “premiership windows”. Sustained competitiveness should be the goal and flags will take care of themselves.

  3. Shiney McShine says

    Agree Smokey 100% that our development is non-existent. Since Scott has come in, we have not had one kid come from low down in the draft and become a gun. The only 2 (Ziebell & Cunnington) were both high picks who were already guns. Players with talent have gone backwards (Basti, Black, Harper and McDonald) and they refuse to give kids a go. Last week Buckley played 2 first gamers for a crucial match – we bring kids in, play them as the sub and then drop them. If Dumont is the sub again I am going to absolutely spit it…

  4. Smokie,
    I am worried about the next few years.
    These players will retire soon – Petrie, Harvey, Firrito, Del Santo, Waite, Grima and Wells.
    With that in mind, Brad Scott did what Michael Voss did – top up.
    It’s a good concept but you’ve got to get it right.
    It is obvious the list won’t win a premiership any time soon.
    Great points about player development. Aaron Black is languishing in the reserves.
    Remember David Hale doing the same then crossing to Hawthorn and winning premierships…
    So the rebuild starts again.

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Thankfully I don’t take footy seriously anymore. Watched first term – writing was on the wall. So slow.

Leave a Comment