Round 4 – Geelong v North Melbourne: North have manned up

Maturity. It comes to us all, apparently. For some, the progression through adolescence to adulthood is relatively seamless. A bit of harmless trouble here and there, nothing too serious, and before you know it, you’re a tax paying, auskicking, daycaring citizen.


However, for others, the journey can be a bit more winding. One day, your 40’s are full of fun, footy, frothies and skullduggery. The next, circumstances unexpectedly change and life hits you in the back of the head like a ton of bricks, forcing a more somber and honest look at life.


I’ll let you ponder which pathway you’ve been down (or expect to)…


The North Melbourne Football Club finally decided to grow up and take hold of its destiny during the third quarter of last season’s Elimination Final against Essendon. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment – perhaps Gibbo’s gut-running, Brown Dog’s goals, or Lindsay’s Lord of the Flies bellow at the night sky – but North issued a collective ‘Enough!’ and declared themselves masters of their domain.


But maturity and self-belief can fluctuate. North got the late shakes against the Cats the next week and were rag-dolled by Sydney in the prelim. Round 1 this year against the Adelaide flat-trackers, North were at their subservient best.


Things turned last week against Port Adelaide. The old North would have meekly folded and accepted a good pantsing, with the coach afterwards muttering something about ‘aberration’, ‘not what we’re about’, and the old chestnut , ‘Shinboner spirit’. But North chased Port all night and gained more in defeat than the 14 goal victory the week before over Brisbane.


Against the Cats on Sunday, North trailed by over three goals at quarter-time and a good old-fashioned Cattery thumping was on the cards. Goldy and Cunners had started well, but as you’d expect, Selwood soon began wrestling the ball from stoppages and Blicavs’ height and pace were allowing him a bucket load of touches. North over-possessed, turned the ball over and with our defence stretched, Clark kicked two.


From where I sat behind the City end goals, things didn’t look good. When Squeezebox Wally, the taxi driving rockstar, just back from a barnstorming tour of South Africa with Mick Thomas, turned around and said ‘Pathetic’, he was spot on.


North could have caught an early bus back up the highway, but didn’t. They dug in and won clearances through Swallow, finally emerging as a true leader. Waite kicked a couple, while at the other end, Tarrant, who fingers crossed, just may be the gorilla we’ve lacked in defence, took intercepting marks. North led by half-time and Wally and I had seen enough to feel confident.


The third quarter was a grind with play dominated by inside work and stoppages. The Cats came again and Hawkins dedicated a goal to his recently passed mother. North hung in and held onto the lead. Hawkins’ opponent, Thompson, Wright, loose in defence, and Boomer in a new linking role across half-back, repelled attacks. They wasted a few chances, but against this Geelong team, deep in generational change, I sensed North wouldn’t be made pay.


Stevie J came on as sub start of the last term and kicked two goals, however it was Dumont, North’s sub who had the bigger influence. He set up a major with his first involvement and then kicked one of his own, a cheeky check-side number. North finally wore Geelong down with a handful of goals, including two to Nahas. Many of the home fans had packed up their rugs and headed for the gate by the time the siren sounded. The final margin was 16 points and Wally and I and the small band of Roos in the outer, celebrated.


On the drive back up the highway, I contemplated North’s continuing development. They no longer rely on emotion to win games, instead drawing on character and belief, and for the first time in years, contribution is spread. Suddenly, there is depth in the players’ list. Wells and Dal Santo are certainties to return when fit, however Hansen, Grima, Black, MacMillan and McDonald, will have to battle for spots. I’m not convinced Nahas, Dumont and Turner are in North’s best twenty-two, but their impact is keeping those trying to get back in on their toes. And this can only be a good thing.


Our votes: Goldstein (NM) 3, Tarrant (NM) 2, Thompson (NM) 1.









  1. On reflection Andrew, I might have to upgrade my assessment of the game more towards yours. It was a solid and professional effort indeed, and the sort we’ve been waiting for. Also shows less reliance on the likes of Boomer, Petrie and Wells as Wright, Tarrant, Jacobs did a lot of the heavy lifting.

    Agree with your take on the Port game too.

    We’ll write off Adelaide as the aberration that is not what we’re about.

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