Round 4 – North Melbourne v Brisbane: Last stop, North Melbourne

If you’re ever city bound on the Upfield line en route to the footy at Etihad and can’t be bothered traveling through the loop and waiting at Flinders Street for ten minutes before finally arriving at Southern Cross, get off at North Melbourne and walk the rest of the way. I did this on Sunday.

Up on the street, I could’ve headed left and popped into the grand, old Railway Hotel for a quick one, where smoke haze still hangs in the air and if you let your imagination loose, you can hear the cheers and groans from back room two-up games and the scratchy race call on the wireless hanging from a hook above the bar.

Instead, I turn right down Railway Place that runs between tiny, white walled terrace houses and the train lines. I stop for a look at a railway viewing platform fashioned out of re-claimed iron. To the left is Etihad Stadium, slowly being swallowed up by sprouting office buildings and shiny apartment blocks spreading like a wild rose on a back fence. In front and to the right are cranes, docks, markets and tangled train lines searching north to distant hills. This is new Melbourne versus old. Corporate versus industrial. It’s brilliant.

Continuing down the hill, I run into the back door of Festival Hall. Besides the MCG and Flemington, is there another entertainment venue with such a say in Melbourne’s history? The original stadium was built by John Wren in 1915 only to be burnt down and rebuilt in time for Olympic events forty years later. Small, somewhat outdated nowadays with paint peeling off the walls, the House of Stoush has hosted them all. The Beatles, Bassey and Sinatra performed and Lionel Rose fought and received his final bell here. A crusty old slugger once told me the basement holds one of the finest collections of boxing memorabilia.

I arrive at Etihad early and wander around the dark, charmless passageways. The cheer squad is setting up and silver haired women shuffle about selling raffle tickets. I meet up with a few cousins and we take our seats on the flank in the Medallion Club.

In the first passage of play Wells kicks long to full-forward. Sudanese debutant, Majak Daw, bounds out, climbs over Irishman McKeever and marks strongly, sending a jolt of excitement through the small, relaxed crowd. He drills the set shot and he and North are away. Minutes later, Majak leans off Merrett and cradles a one hander. On an angle, he misses to the left. At the thirteen minute mark, Majak comes off to a rousing ovation.

Back on, Merrett tackles Majak without the ball. On the way down, he clashes heads with Cunnington and is subbed-off under wobbly legs. In less than a quarter, Majak has experienced footy’s highs and lows.

North dominate the first half with hard running and strong tackling. Ziebell is continuing his early season form. His mixture of skill and toughness reminds me so much of Nathan Buckley. Thompson, unnoticed by too many of the so-called experts, is out muscling Warrnambool boy Jonathan Brown who, after a match winning five goal effort last week, looks sluggish.

Brisbane give the impression they’d rather be somewhere else. Loose and undisciplined, their play lacks intent.

North by 32 points at half-time.

North have lost every third quarter this season – the worst effort was coughing up 11 goals to Sydney last week – but there’s little fear of the same happening today. Thomas and Petrie dominate, Thompson out marks Brown and Swallow throws his body around and lays smothers. The lead blows out to 11 goals.

The puff’s gone from the contest by the last quarter. The only highlight is offered by Mullett who gathers at half-back, runs past most of the Brisbane team and kicks truly from 30 metres. Lion first gamer, Paparone, kicks his third.

Final margin 63 points.

Any win’s a good win – particularly if it’s the first for the year – but the opposition were somewhere beyond terrible. We need a big scalp to build momentum and belief. Hawthorn will provide an immediate opportunity next week.

I hope Majak’s right to go – he made all Northerners smile today.

NORTH MELBOURNE 5.10 8.13 15.16 18.17 (125)
BRISBANE LIONS 1.2 4.5 6.5 9.8 (62)

North Melbourne:
Thomas, Petrie 4; Daw, Macmillan, Thompson, Wells, Adams, Hansen, Gibson, Ziebell, Mullett, Wright.
Brisbane Lions: Paparone 3; Bewick 2; McKeever, Rockliff, Green, Zorko.

North Melbourne:
Thompson, Ziebell,Thomas, Wells, Atley, Gibson.
Brisbane Lions: Leuenberger, Paparone.

Umpires Burgess, Schmitt, Pannell crowd 22,776 at Etihad Stadium

Our Votes Thompson (NM) 3, Ziebell (NM) 2, Thomas (NM) 1.


  1. I did the same on Easter Monday heading outbound on the Craigieburn line, getting off at Glenroy and walking to instead of getting off at Broadmeadows. It hasn’t changed much since I was at Kindergarten in 1989!

  2. The scenery is impressive, well said

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