Round 21 – North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: Home Truths

“It’s just another day at the office…We did a lot right in the game and had a horror 30 minutes. The Bulldogs kicked five goals in three quarters and eight in one (quarter)… We just had a bad period of play where we couldn’t get the ball and to their credit, they were able to go forward and score.”


You might be surprised to learn that the above lines are neither the wisdom of Confucius, nor the wit of Mark Twain. No, these words have been carefully selected from the post-match comments of North Melbourne’s coach Brad Scott, after he was totally out-coached by a man who will forever be in possession of what Brad will never have: a premiership coach’s medal.


But let’s be more honest, and call a spade a shovel. The quarter of which he speaks in such glib terms was by far the worst that North has played this season. It was a half-hour of football so shameful, so inept, so lacking in imagination, effort and accountability that it defies belief that North is still a mathematical chance to play in the finals. In real life, however, the saving grace is that pitiful quarter has most likely spared my fellow North supporters and I the embarrassment of another finals shellacking.


Amazingly, we were still in the game late in the last term, and only lost by 7 points, which is an indictment on the Bulldogs. This despite the Dogs having three players who accumulated 40 or more possessions. Not having Ben Jacobs in the team does not make that much difference. Surely?


For here is a fact that the Kangaroos players, coaching staff, and wider administration might wish to ponder. And it starts with the following observation: at the present time, the Kangaroos are further away from a premiership than in any time of my near half-century of supporting the club. And this includes the lost years of the mid-1980’s.  Why is this so, I hear you ask?


Well, let me issue a few home truths…


  1. North has very little outside run. Yes, the injury to Billy Hartung has affected the pace of the team, but the lack of leg-speed has been a recurring theme throughout Brad Scott’s 9-year(!) tenure, and is still yet to be adequately addressed.
  2. Brad Scott is a poor game-day tactician. When Dogs coach Luke Beveridge changed his game plan at half time, there was no response from his opposite number, which was further proof for my belief that Scott never has a plan b.
  3. The playing list will get worse before it gets it better. My pre-season expectations were for 5 – 6 wins this season, so we have for exceeded that number. But some impressive wins have only papered over what are yawning gaps on the list, starting with the afore-mentioned outside run and another key-forward.
  4. Key players are ageing. The injury-prone Jarrad Waite (who was extremely fortunate not to be suspended) virtually signed his retirement papers on Sunday. Scott Thompson was solid in the first half of the season but has really battled since the bye, unable to keep Father Time at bay. Despite some impressive debutants this season, Scott has still continued to display his reluctance to play youngsters, another hallmark of his nine(!) years at North.
  5. After years of incompetency in this area, player development is still a shambles. Kayne Turner is in his fifth(!) season at the club playing as a small forward and has kicked 8(!) goals for the season. He has gone backwards. Luke McDonald still gets selected despite weekly coughing up goals in the most laughable of ways. He is never going to be the player North thought he would be when he was selected in the top 10. Ryan Clarke has not come on, Mason Wood (when he is not injured) misses too many easy goals, and Marley Williams would not want to see a replay of his third quarter horror show.


Yes, North have had their share of injuries, but show me a club who has not. So spare me all the post-match clichés about focusing on becoming “a really good team”. Give me some truths. Like the home truths I have given you.



NORTH MELBOURNE             2.2       9.5       11.10   12.13 (85)
WESTERN BULLDOGS            1.4       4.7       12.9     13.14 (92)

North Melbourne: 
Brown 4, Waite 2, Wood 2, Walker, Turner, Atley, Higgins
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 3, Bontempelli 2, Schache 2, McLean, Johannisen, Greene, Gowers, Lipinski, Jong

North Melbourne:
 Cunnington, Anderson, Goldstein, Higgins, Brown, Thompson
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Hunter, Daniel, Macrae, Dunkley, Johannisen

OUR VOTES: 3. Bontempelli (WB), 2. Hunter (WB), 1. Daniel (WB).



About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Smoke the Roos, to be fair to Scott, probably don’t have the infrastructure of the bigger clubs and the power of the likes of Hawthorn to attract big players.

    But, as the Cat’s coach shares the same DNA as your coach, I largely agree. Our bloke has different faults but seems unwilling (or unable) to correct them. Just like Brad Scott.

    The question has to be asked: if you get rid of him which robot-in-waiting will replace him?

  2. Smokie – Time to move to Tassie. You are unbeatable there. Wet, windy, handkerchief size ground suits tough slow players which is your DNA. Ben Brown is a local legend, and you won’t lose him to Hawthorn as a free agent in a few years. Revives ailing Tassie footy, and its only a short ferry ride on a Friday evening for your supporter base (both of them).

  3. John Butler says:

    So I gather B. Scott is off the Christmas mailing list?

    North have been a hard team to read this season. Expected them to struggle, then they significantly exceeded those expectations. Then they started meeting them.

    Nine (!) years. The club has certainly backed him in.

    Shoulda stayed in Ballarat. :)

  4. Smokie- some brutal observations there, but of course, realism is the way to go.

    I note that Sunday’s Roos v Crows clash is on three hour delay here on 7mate. As we don’t have Foxtel I suspect we might instead be watching Russell Coight. Our boys love it. They’re the right demographic. Certainly our season has had some Russell Coight moments.

    Although we’re out of it I love it when the eight is only decided at the death. Good luck to your Roos!

  5. Andrew Starkie says:

    Smoke, caught up with Daff Friday night; he said to check out your piece.

    Totally agree with 1 and 2; pretty obvious. No 3, mmmm, not sure. Totally, totally agree with 4 and 5.

    I;m not big on footy stats – don’t believe they tell the real story. unlike golf, cricket.

    But, consider this from last week:

    The Dogs had 102 more possessions;
    77% of their stats were uncontested which shows how little pressure North were able to bring;
    3 Dogs had 40 or more touches, a league record;
    Bont had 35 and kicked 3 and was best on ground;
    Daniel played a loose man across half-back and collected 40 (which possibly exceeds his combined total for the season);
    Cunners had the ball the most for North with 26. Yes, 26.

    Scott has persisted with 5 forwards which has cost us wins against Swans a few weeks ago and the Dogs last Sunday. Alir was able to run free in the final term against the Swans. He dominated the quarter and drifted forward, unattended, and kicked the winner. The frustration and confusion with North players towards Scott;s lack of action on Alir was obvious. Last week, no one went near Caleb at any time – stoppages, throw-ins, after goals. Like against the Swans, if Scott had employed a 6th forward, both these players would have been forced to pick them up., nullifying their ability to accumulate stats.

    North’s inability to adjust, or even exert pressure against the dogs in the 3rd term was a real concern. It wasn’t rocket science, all the dogs did was lower their eyes. North looked spent, confused, resigned to defeat and slow ( as usual).

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