Round 2 – Geelong v North Melbourne: Barrackers

As I have done so often throughout my football-supporting life, I alight at North Melbourne station. I look back through the train windows to see a train packed with Cats fans. I laugh to myself: how many of them realise that the next stop is Flagstaff, and not Southern Cross? Shanks’ Pony will have me at Etihad before they get through the Loop and wonder what they are doing at Flinders Street. Alas, this will prove to be but a pyrrhic victory for me.

Today I hold minimal expectations of a Kangaroos win. With Goldstein out, it has the feel of a five-goal loss. And I am prepared to expand on this theory when I meet up with Cats men J T Harms and P J Flynn as the ball is bounced. But they will hear none of it, knowing that the recent triple-premiership renaissance era is well and truly over and the pessimism of another 1964-2010-type Ice Age is upon them. When North skips out to an early three-goal lead, their fears are part-way to being confirmed.

From the outset it is clear that, in this match, defence means only that timber structure at home that separates you from de idiot neighbours. The ball ping-pongs about Sterile Stadium, with North being given first use of the pill by big Braedon Pruess, Goldy’s replacement. Flynny makes the reasonable observation that Geelong would be better served having a Stanley knife in the ruck (rather than namesake Rhys). The Roos players, almost as surprised as I am, find themselves four goals to the good at quarter time. Harmsy is prepared to call it “game over”, but Flynny and I know there will be plenty of twists in this tale. And so it proves, when the Cats outscore the Roos 5 goals to 2 in the second term. There is a goal in it at half time, and the game has all the feel of a contest that is going down to the wire.

I am getting right into this – caught up in North’s competitiveness, cheering every Kangaroos goal. I am my younger, more lustily-barracking self. It is as if I turned left out of North Melbourne station rather than right. Maybe I turned back time by more than an hour this morning – I have turned it back by thirty years!

The shoot-out continues into the third quarter. North pile on eight goals, answering every challenge from the Cats, who score five of their own. Harry Taylor, having hitherto worn his move to the forward-line as comfortably as a hair shirt, is shifted to the back-line. It is fair to say that, apart from midfield rotations, this is the only move of note by either coach. Indeed, the twin brothers coaching today’s respective outfits are a source of discussion and speculation. And it true that there is not a lot of love for either Scott sibling. Flynny and I agree that they continue to be “barrackers” in their coaches’ boxes. Yes, wearing their hearts on their sleeves – but at what cost to considered and thoughtful analysis? Midway through the third, the monitor in front of us shows a split-screen shot of Brad and Chris on their phones simultaneously. Flynny again: “They aren’t making a move, they’re just chatting to each other.” Discussing dinner plans, perhaps?

As sure as my circadian rhythm has been interrupted by the turning back of the clock early this morning, the game ends in a cliff-hanger. It has many of the hall-marks of the 2014 semi-final in which North controlled the game for all but the last 15 minutes. Then, North hang on. But today, Horlin-Smith kicks truly with a minute left on the clock – which cannot be turned back for daylight saving’s end. It is quite possible that the difference on this occasion is that Geelong has a bloke named Dangerfield; he is never beaten for four whole quarters.

In the wash-up, I feel it will be an important win for the Cats as the season wears on. My Cat companions are visibly relieved to have snuck at out of this game with the points. That relief is tempered by the knowledge that playing in fits and starts, as they have today, will not cut it against the very best teams.

And for me, and for my Kangaroos? The tackling and pressure – especially early – pleased me. It was a game that we could have won, and I remembered how disappointed I once was when we lost. Today was a similar feeling. Although a post-match beer is a salve to those wounds nowadays. It showed that I still care, and at my best can still barrack with the best of them. Except maybe for those barracking brothers in the coaches’ boxes.


GEELONG                               2.1   7.6  12.7  17.10 (112)

NORTH MELBOURNE       6.2   8.6  16.8   17.9 (111)



Geelong: Hawkins 4, Menzel 4, Horlin-Smith 2, Parfitt, Thurlow, Duncan, Dangerfield, Henderson, Blicavs, Lang

North Melbourne: Brown 3, Higgins 2, Thomas 2 , Turner 2, McDonald, Daw, Dumont, Gibson, Macmillan, Garner, Simpkin, Williams



Geelong: Dangerfield, Menzel, Selwood, Duncan, Tuohy, Hawkins

North Melbourne: Higgins, Cunnington, Preuss, Dumont, Tarrant, Brown


Umpires: Stevic, Hay, Pannell


Official crowd: 30,917 at Etihad Stadium


Malarkey Votes: 3 Higgins (NM), 2 Dangerfield (Geel), 1 Selwood (Geel)


About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Excellent report Smokie. Yes the Cats had Dangerfield, but they also had a bit of arse when needed. I suppose every team needs some luck. I reckon the Cats will have another season of competing well with the good sides and falling to those considered down the ladder. Is it hubris? Or do Dangerfield and Selwood just take the foot off a bit against the lower teams?

    The Roos will certainly help shape the 8. May not make it, but will shape it.

    The Scott brothers don’t know what a strategy is. They even played their footy that way – bash and crash. But they both have pretty effective angry eyes.

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    Old Mucker,

    The classic ebb and flow contest.

    I watched a bit of the replay on the box and I think it was a better game than I’d initially thought.

    Despite sterility, the Garden Gate bar is an excellent inclusion to Etihad.

    Selwood, Dangerfield and Taylor probably got the Cats over the line in the end.

    Much to like about North. Perhaps run out of gas?

    Who knows actually!

    Superb article Smoke.

    PJ Flynn

  3. Rulebook says:

    Great stuff Smokie love the de fence line.I can hear the delightful sarcasm in PJF voice re The Stanley knife.I laugh at Crows supporters saying we are a better side with out Dangerfield bloody idiots.
    Hotlin Smith best junior cricketer I have seen and had been well and truly ear marked re a baggy green from aust junior sides.I am a huge Demont fan ( moron taxi driver) he is about to prove how good he is.
    Where is Durdin at Smokie ? Thank you

  4. Punxsu.... Pete says:

    Great read as always Smokie. I’ve given up on getting off at Nth Melb to escape the loop. I somehow always end up on another train going through the loop. Bane of my existence that loop. Never get to bypass it when I want to, and never get to go through it when I need to.

  5. G’day Skokie,

    You have good passions of supporting Kangaroos and made a good way out to the stadium. Sadly Scott brothers “barracking” took over your enthusiasm.

    It’s an interesting read and the game was so close. I understand how you feel. My St Kilda lost close games last year to Hawthorn and your club. Keeping up motivation in such close games is important but hard I think.



  6. John Butler says:

    Smoke, always turn left. Particularly if you’re a right footer.

    Roos were stiff. Still not sure about the Cats.

    Love ya work.

  7. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great that you still have the passion Smokie. Fantastic write up, keep turning back the clock!

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