Round 17 – North Melbourne v Port Adelaide: the good and bad about North Melbourne

North Melbourne versus Port Adelaide
4.40pm, Saturday 16 July
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne


North Melbourne needs to make a statement today. And tell the football world it’s still here; and will be in September.


North needs to be clinical. Lead from start to finish, dominate all over the ground. And end Port’s season.


The problem is, North isn’t a statement club. It doesn’t puff its chest, strut, or intimidate. It just battles away.


North isn’t ruthless like Hawthorn or Sydney. It doesn’t put its foot on opponent’s necks. Nor is it flashy like West Coast. There are no hipster beards, man buns or tattoo sleeves (thankfully).


It doesn’t treat lesser teams as percentage boosters, or put other contenders in their place.


North doesn’t keep turning its list over until the magic ingredients are in place.


North is respected, but not feared by opponents.


North is a proud club with an admirable culture. It doesn’t bottom out like some, instead competes every year above its station in this class based, compromised competition. Integrity, humility and honesty are qualities North possesses. I’m proud to be a member.


North doesn’t have pokies. It has an education centre for local kids from the high rise flats.


I’m at work today. I work in an Educational Youth Foyer, a facility for young students unable to live at home. We’re located in Broadmeadows, on the edge of the valley, that these days is an appealing green, thanks to winter rain.


It’s Foyer concert night. In the common room, students are setting up amps, banging on drums and tuning guitars. I’m in the kitchen, tossing salad, cooking chicken wings, and ducking into the office every few minutes to check the score on the radio.


North are in trouble early. When confidence goes, so do run and skill. The Kangaroos are carrying the weight of four straight losses heavily on their weary backs.


They’re getting the ball, but keep giving it back. Port are sloppy too, however make up for this with run and effort. Win today and they will eye the Kangaroos’ spot.


Six goals to none at quarter time, and already this game is disappearing in the distance. With the way North have played the past month, I have no confidence they can drag this back. Nor, I sense, do they.


Work rate improves after the break. They’re matching Port for possession, but are indirect and waste chances. Poor kicking for goal spreads like a disease.


Port absorb pressure and counter attack on turnovers. They steady and extend the lead to 39 points.


I give up on the footy after half-time. Dinner is served, followed by a concert of original hip-hop and pop covers by students and their mates. Music provides escape and hope for Foyer students. Nights like this remind me why I do this job.


North, on the other hand, are another story.


While North’s finals chances are far from dusted – two games clear of Port – arresting a form slump of this size is difficult. An injury list which has become a bad joke, a few more players – Swallow, Goldy and Boomer – playing sore, and a stupid, lopsided fixture, partly explain their issues.


At full strength and with planets aligned, North can match it with most teams. But that’s the problem. Everything always has to go right for North. When things start going wrong, fragility emerges.


For all North’s admirable traits, it lacks the ruthlessness, consistency and quality required to be a genuine premiership contender. North is always just off the pace.


Good teams win when they need to. North should have won today.


North’s peaks and valleys have become one of the stories of 2016. Which is ironic, considering they usually have to stand on a street corner wearing tutus and singing Dixie to gain attention.


Some outside observers see their slide out of the Eight as inevitable. Thankfully, North’s destiny is in its own hands. What is needed from all at the club over the next six weeks are clear heads and big doses of resilience and belief. And on and off-field leadership.


And when the season’s done, decisions need to be made on the careers of Boomer, Waite, Drew, Dal Santo and Spud. Maybe only the first two named should be asked to carry on. But that’s a conversation for another day.



  1. Gee whiz, Starkers. Where to start?
    Some very valid points here, especially their inability to put bad teams away. Remember the Essendon game?
    Some tough list management decisions needed at season’s end. Thankfully Brayshaw is going.
    Dal Santo has looked slow from Rd1 – he is done. Spud tries harder than most, but it’s all over for him. Petrie has fallen off the cliff – he was ok early in the year, but now looks he played one season too many.
    And I know you can’t kick everyone out, but what of guys like Mullett – in his 6th(!) season now? He is a list clogger.

  2. David Conallin says

    Bring back the good ole day when you just bought premierships! Gee it was easy then..

  3. Fixturing is the most interesting point out of them all I reckon – comparing the first half of the season to the second half is insane! North SHOULD hold on to 8th, but the Pies and Saints could ruin everything in the next two rounds. Will be fascinating to see. Regardless, you can’t see them beating any of the other top 8 sides in a final.

  4. They will come good. Why play your best football now. Last time I looked the finals are played in September so we will be back better than ever. Scott is a very smart operator so have faith North fans we will be back and who knows the possibilities. Go Roos!

  5. And Andrew, we are wounded roos, and a wounded roo is a nasty,vicious creature, so beware those that are writing off a team that is proud and a very smart club will come back extremely hard. I can’t wait to see the doubters start ducking for cover. We haven’t even started yet.Look out, we will come..

  6. Good Luck Andrew, sadly the Roos will need it.

    As a detached observer this year was THE YEAR for you blokes. Petrie, Dell Santo, Harvey, Waite, etc all these players needed to get a flag this year, or the window closes. When you’re 9-0, a top four berth should be a gimme, now there’s talk of missing the finals !

    I still feel you’ll retain a spot in the 8 but what does that mean? THe old blokes will be older, less valuable in 2017. If you couldn’t grasp a flag in 2016 , i don’t reckon the future is too bright.

    I’m happy to be proven wrong, but what does Brad Scott do ? Then again, is he the solution ?


  7. John Butler says

    One thing I know Starkers, the Roos have been playing havoc with my tipping.

    Are they going to come good Friday night?

  8. Andrew Starkie says

    As I said JB, clear heads and big doses of resilience and belief. And on and off-field leadership.

  9. Andrew Starkie says

    i have confidence JB.

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