Round 19 – North Melbourne v St Kilda: We Love Ya, Boomer!

North Melbourne versus St Kilda

7.25pm Saturday 30 July

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne


We Love ya, Boomer!


A few preseasons ago, on a sticky Saturday morning, North Melbourne held a casual open training session for club members. After a few laps, a bit of kick-to-kick and end-to-end drills, Brad Scott called time. Most players grabbed drink bottles and headed to the fence for autographs and photos.


Not Boomer. I watched from the shade of the new community centre as he spent the next fifteen minutes practising shots for goal on the run.


The routine for each kick was identical. Simulating a passage of match play, he started metres behind a stationary ball, accelerated, bent and took possession without breaking stride, straightened, dropped the ball onto his boot, and followed through, with his kicking foot touching the ground first. Finally, he slowed to a walk, stared at the goals, muttered to himself, and returned to his mark.


Only when his obsessive mind was satisfied any technical cracks were repaired and all was right with his world, Boomer joined the waiting supporters. Some of his teammates had already headed inside.


Captain Andrew Swallow says Boomer is the smartest, most regimented trainer at the club. A footballer who has learnt through experience and experimentation what he has to do every session, every season to be the best he can be. Boomer inspires everyone at North Melbourne.


I’ve witnessed much of Boomer’s career in person, and to me, he is the smartest footballer I’ve ever seen. Some say his greatest asset is his speed. It’s not, it’s his football brain.


Like Dale Weightman, Greg Williams and Sam Mitchell, Boomer knows his game completely – attributes and apparent shortcomings – and therefore has mastered it. He is always one thought, one movement ahead of play, anticipating, planning, as he waits for the ball to fall off the pack into his hands.


And like The Flea, Boomer doesn’t have to look at the goals before snapping over his shoulder. Such is my faith and Boomer’s reliability, I have often already placed a mark in the ‘Goals’ column before the ball has sailed through.


When running up the wing or through the middle, he directs and draws Drew and Browny to where they need to lead, with a nod of the head, and a beautifully weighted kick.


Tonight, the North family – fair and foul-weathered – has gathered at the Dungeon for Boomers’ record breaking match. Two generations of my own family are squeezed into the nosebleed seats, Warrnambool-side wing.


With the focus on Boomer, it’s easy to forget the importance of this match for each club. Victory for North will almost secure a Finals’ spot, however St Kilda have a sniff of September themselves, and if the Kangaroos are distracted by the occasion and slip up, the Saints will close to within one game of the Eight.


A goal each inside the first two minutes suggest we’re in for a free-flowing shootout, however the first half provides little entertainment. Both teams attack and spread, however errors and poor decision making – a feature of modern footy – dampen the mood. Perhaps due to the occasion, players look nervous.


Boomer is doing his bit and receives cheers whenever in possession.


North by two goals at half-time.


The match improves during the second half with North kicking longer to position and stringing together the occasional attractive passage. Drew takes a few hangers.


There is system and purpose in St Kilda’s play – they go inside 50 regularly – however continue to turn the ball over, allowing Thommo and J Mac to clear.


The lead blows out early in the final term and attention turns to whether Boomer will kick a goal. It arrives thanks to Lindsay who gifts him one in the goal square.


Junk goals to the Saints narrow the final margin to 23 points.


Boomer is chaired off by Drew and Spud, through a guard of honour and to a standing ovation.


Boomer’s an example to us all, whatever our life journey. He’s a little fella who fronts up every week and looks the big guys in the eye. Just like the club he has served for 427 games.


We love ya, Boomer.


NORTH MELBOURNE       2.4      4.7      7.8      12.13     (85)
ST KILDA                              1.4       2.7     3.10      8.14     (62)

GOALS              North Melbourne: Brown 3; Waite, Petrie 2; Thomas, Harvey, Macmillan, Dumont, Mullett
St Kilda: Riewoldt, Bruce 2; Montagna, Acres, Weller, Dunstan 

BEST                 North Melbourne: Swallow, Thompson, Petrie, Macmillan, Brown, Dumont
St Kilda: Riewoldt, Ross, Acres, Montagna, Roberton 

Umpires: Bannister, Stevic, Findlay    Official crowd: 44,287 at Etihad Stadium

Our votes        Swallow (NM) 3, Thompson (NM) 2, Petrie (NM) 1.


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  1. Well done, Starkers.
    Boomer’s games record will stand for generations. It is his. And North’s.
    What people tend to forget is that he rarely wastes a possession.

    I thought North were a little fortunate that St Kilda’s poor kicking
    alleviated the pressure somewhat.

  2. I have never been a Lindsay fan, but thought he was very good last Saturday night

  3. Yeah, if you see him at training you see what all the people around the club go on about. Never takes a shortcut. You’re right about his footy brain. His straight line speed ain’t what it used to be but he makes up for it with knowing when to use it.

    Still love watching him go about it.

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