Round 19 – Carlton v North Melbourne: ‘They know we’re coming…!’





Late in season 2015, Hawthorn on their inevitable path to a three-peat faced Carlton at Etihad Stadium. The final score was Carlton 4.11.35 Hawthorn 27.11.173. I sat through this debacle and later penned a three line report for the Almanac, in which I quoted Jack Dyer during a broadcast where he had seen a particularly questionable umpiring decision, “I won’t say anything because I might say something.”


I thought that I might reprise that observation as I endured the Blues’ second-half capitulation to North Melbourne on Saturday. However, my natural long-windedness obliges me to ‘say something’.


Happily Covid restrictions spared me witnessing this event at the ground. In fact I ‘saw’ little of it. I listened to a radio broadcast of much of the first half while travelling, as well as some of the third quarter. I now have access to Kayo, but I have yet to master the ‘cast to tv’ function, so the little I watched of the final quarter was on my phone. The tiny screen revealed (more than) enough.


Some years ago, the Carlton marketing department fantasised the slogan ‘They know we’re coming’. Unfortunately that arrival (mocked by rival supporters) seems as distant as ever. Saturday’s feeble effort demonstrated that the Blues lack strong-minded players who can withstand an opposing team having a ‘run-on’. An alternative explanation is that there is a deficiency in team strategy to respond to such a circumstance. The comment about the absence of strong-willed Blues players is unfair to Patrick Cripps who certainly exhibits some of these characteristics, and Sam Walsh who seems to be developing similarly. Currently Cripps’ mental strength seems to be drained by his sustained efforts since he began with the Blues, as well as his being limited by injuries.


A few hours later I saw the contrast. Melbourne were threatening to overwhelm the Bulldogs after they had trailed all night. With six minutes left on the clock, the Dees had drawn to within four points after kicking three goals in succession. The outcome seemed inevitable, particularly as Melbourne have supplied ample evidence of their ability to score quickly. One player determined that this would not happen. Marcus Bontempelli took it upon himself to resist, by sheer willpower. In a remarkable ten minutes, he  turned the tide, centre clearances, scoring a goal, creating another. Initially it was a single-handed effort, but this inspired team mates of lesser mental fortitude to get on board, which led to a season-defining victory. It was a stirring demonstration of what a single player – acknowledged one who is gifted with exuberant talent as well as a strong mind – can accomplish.


Bear in mind, this was at the conclusion of the Bont’s outstanding performance for the preceding 74 minutes playing time, when exhaustion saps the will of all on the field. One is reminded of the old boxing mantra: ‘a champion gets up, when he can’t’ – in both senses of the term ‘gets up’.


For the record (Melbourne-Western Bulldogs match details are included in Matt Zurbo’s account HERE):



CARLTON                              2.5    5.6   5.10   11.11 (77)
NORTH MELBOURNE           3.1    5.4    12.6.   18.8 (116)


Cripps 3, Kennedy 2, Newnes 2, Owies, Martin, Curnow, Fisher
North Melbourne: Larkey 7, Thomas 4, Stephenson 3, Anderson 2, Goldstein, Zurhaar


Newnes, Silvagni, De Koning, Walsh, Curnow, Cripps
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Larkey, Thomas, Stephenson, Cunnington, Hall,


Williams (hamstring), Betts (ankle)
North Melbourne: Phillips (nose)


 Murphy (replaced Williams)
North Melbourne: Polec (replaced Phillips)



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. Thanks for this Peter. I actually remember your short report from 6 years ago, haha.

    I am being serious when I ask “Where to now for Carlton?”. One difference between Carlton and North is that prior to the season North were upfront about where they were at: the bottom of the ladder. Thus, any win was always going to be a bonus. North’s path forward is clear. Carlton were making noises about playing finals, so by any measure this season is a huge disappointment. The Blues’ path is more murky, with questions about the football department unresolved. The next few months promise to be interesting times at Princes Park.

  2. Peter Fuller says

    Thank you Smokie, I see your analysis of Carlton’s predicament as on the money. Your final sentence says it all.
    I guess that I betrayed my disappointed expectations, and I certainly should have been less dismissive of the Kangaroos both in pre-game expectations and in the report. In recent weeks North are certainly better than the 18th best team in the competition. However, I calculated that -with the exception of that fine performance in Perth – North were usually falling short against middle of the road sides, witness the eighteen point loss to Essendon, so I thought we should have been able to do the job. That the 2nd half was so calamitous was outside the range of expectations..

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