Round 3 – North Melbourne v Melbourne: Three Decades

Shift work. With the exception of their nearest and dearest, only those who work it, or have worked it, will ever truly understand the effects that punching the clock at ungodly hours has on one’s emotional state. And no-one truly knows just how much time shift work shaves off one’s life. Years, someone once told me.

Come Bloomsday – June 16 – I will have been working shift-work for 30 years. Three fifths of my life. That is three decades of walking dead in the days between and after night shifts. Three decades of moodiness. Three decades of a life ruled by an all-knowing all-seeing shift roster. Three decades of constantly consulting a schedule to determine whether I will be at work when I should otherwise be at a wedding or a party, or with my wife on our anniversary, or merely at the pub with mates on a Friday night. And, it follows that it will be three decades also of checking my work roster against North Melbourne’s season fixture. Which games can I attend? Which games can I watch on tv before or after work? Which games will be on while I am working for the man?

Brent Harvey hasn’t being playing for the Kangaroos for three decades. Not yet anyway.

I walked into this job straight from a totally unrelated university course. Wide-eyed and completely unprepared. A world of stop-work meetings, go-slows, work-to-rule and wild-cat strikes. Twelve blokes on a shift, all with wildly divergent personalities and in varying states of moodiness. Some shifts would be a riot of laughter and raucousness. Other shifts would be an exercise in treading softly on eggshells, lest someone’s moodiness caused them to take umbrage or feel slighted. Old-timers, such as myself I guess, look back upon the ‘good old days’ with a sense of fondness, not in the least part because there are so few of us now – only five blokes on each shift.

Whilst the plant at which I work can potentially be dangerous to me and even the community if things do not go right, for the most part things run smoothly. It seems ridiculous when I reflect on it now, but when I first started we were not permitted to have so much as an AM/FM radio in the main control room. Now we have the luxury of a wide-screen television and Foxtel, which means that – if the plant is running as it should – there is the opportunity to catch the footy. But always with the risk that a bell could ring, an alarm could sound, and the shit could well and truly hit the fan if something breaks down.

It was with these thoughts swirling around my mind that I watched North Melbourne hosting the Demons at Blundstone Arena in Hobart. Such an enjoyable encounter. A match of which I caught more than the usual snippets and snatches here and there as I attended to tasks out in the plant. The danger is that work can be ignored when a sporting contest tightens up. But it is fair to say that, during the last minute or so of the match, when Melbourne desperately pushed the ball forward, nothing could have averted my eyes from the screen. Not even the plant evacuation alarm sounding to herald Fukushima II.


NORTH MELBOURNE    8.2   10.4   17.7   21.10  (136)?

MELBOURNE                     2.2   11.5   14.7   20.11  (131)



North Melbourne: Harvey 6, Goldstein 5, Waite 4, Petrie 2, Gibson 2, Ziebell, Macmillan

Melbourne: Kent 4, Watts 3, Hogan 3, Oliver 2, Gawn 2, Jones, vandenBerg, Dunn, Tyson, Harmes, Viney



?North Melbourne: Harvey, Goldstein, Waite, Ziebell, Cunnington

Melbourne: Vince, Gawn, Viney, Oliver, Hogan, Kent


Umpires: Nicholls, Kamolins, Ryan


Official crowd: 12,607 at Blundstone Arena


Our votes: 3 T. Goldstein (NM), 2 B. Vince (M), 1 B. Harvey (NM).


About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. That explains everything Smoke!

  2. Smoke – so you work at the Lower Plenty Hotel then.

  3. I get it Smokie. As an 18 yr old shift work , night duty, rosters trying for a reasonable block of holidays etc it was a rude shock that blasted me out of the naïveté of my youth.

    Congrats for sticking it out

    Like the writing too.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Smokie 100 per cent spot on I did 13 years of nursing in a old folks home,I left that vocation over 10 years ago do I miss the residents yes do I miss shift work and n particular night shift,NO.
    A report which I agree with every word thanks,Smokie

  5. E.regnans says

    Appears to be wherever they serve Chainsaw, (Prickly Moses), Dips.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    I thought you owned a brewery with the penchant for Chainsaw and Prickly Moses. Do they give you a more reasonable shift roster in September when the Roos are playing?

  7. Lots to like here Smokie.

    Ah, Bloomsday. Just happens to be my birthday, and this is significant because I’ve Irish ancestry as my mum is an O’Keefe. I bought Ulysses at uni and it took me over twenty years, and many false starts to finish it. Visiting Ireland and Dublin, and more particularly, Temple Bar, gave me the necessary context to persevere with this huge book when I was home with our eldest a few years’ ago.

    Every afternoon for about two months he’d have a sleep, and I’d flop on the bed and read some James Joyce. Sometimes, you may be surprised to hear, I’d have a nap too. And one day I’d finished it! However, I only got about a quarter of it, if I’m honest. Coped best with the bits about pubs and horse racing. Down the track, I’ll re-read it.

    Well done on thirty years of shift work. I know a few folks who’ve done some too. To an outsider, it looked bloody hard! To compensate, the Roos have eased the journey with four flags.

    Thanks fella.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    30 years of shift work. Pity Malcolm got rid of knighthoods, you deserve one Smokie!
    A widescreen with Foxtel at work-first item for discussion at my next work meeting….
    Is there any ChainSAW in your work fridge?!!

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