Round 8 – North Melbourne v Carlton: Correct me if I’m wrong


Brad Scott was the longest serving AFL coach never to win a flag.


He was at North for over a decade. That’s a lot of faith shown.


Then, halfway through last season, Scott decided he’d had enough and – maybe with an eye on his brand – up and left, leaving the club in the lurch.


Rhyce Shaw, who had been there for five minutes, was installed as caretaker coach. His honeymoon period was promising, the win against Richmond at The Dungeon the best result.


However, there was also that drizzly Saturday night at The Cattery when North kicked the first goal of the match and didn’t score again. I was in the social club with Cousin Moose, a Cat fan. It wasn’t a fun night.


Rhyce sat in the coach’s box with a stunned and embarrassed expression. He was a young coach out of his depth. Not his fault.


Instead of an exhaustive, nationwide hunt for a successor for Scott, North chose the easier option. Adam Simpson and John Longmire, premiership players at the club, premiership coaches elsewhere, received phone calls. Both had a chuckle and politely declined.


Then, in a so-called show of faith – before the end of the season – Rhyce was interviewed over a coffee and appointed full-time coach. To my knowledge, no other calls were made, nor was anyone else interviewed. Again, correct me if I’m wrong.


I was worried due to Rhyce’s lack of experience and the absence of apparent effort from the club to speak to others. Were they sure they had the right man, or couldn’t they afford anyone else? I haven’t followed footy much this season for a few reasons, but this is what I’ve seen.


Wins against the Saints and Giants were full of typical North character and even a bit of flair and dare – not typical. There was confidence around the team. But things have gone to seed pretty quickly.


Against the Dogs, Bombers and especially Richmond, North were headless, static, predictable and powerless to stop opposition momentum, or even switch play to the far side. Thommo would have found a way through Richmond’s forward press, even if he had to start a wrestle. Which begs the next question: where is North’s on-field leadership? We need a Selwood type.


Without Tarryn Thomas, that early ray of flare has gone. Rhyce has lacked a Plan B. Skills have been woeful. The delivery to Browny is cruel – you’d think his mates didn’t like him. Against Essendon, he was repeatedly double and triple-teamed by opposition defenders. Why weren’t their opponents making them accountable? What was the coach’s box doing?


The longest injury list in the comp hasn’t helped, but playing Cunners and Jack when injured rests with the coach and medical team and had panic and amateur hour written all over it. Wood, Atley, MacMillan, Garner and Jacobs need to go; Hall should never have been brought to the club.


Against Carlton – who are still ordinary – North chased a five goal deficit from early in the second term. In this short-quarter season, teams won’t win doing this very often.


The return of Zurhaar, LDU and Larkey gives hope. But Goldy shouldn’t be in our top two players still, and without Cunners, our on-ballers look lightweight. Too much is expected from Higgins and Simpkin.


North’s good bloke above all culture is admirable, but it won’t win flags. They need to be more ruthless with off and on-field decisions. I’m worried about the future.



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  1. I feel your pain, Starkers.

    Brad Scott was at North for far too long.
    We are still bearing the burden of his inability to develop young players.

  2. Gary Robb says

    I agree Smokie
    Scott`s refusal to select young players has produced the huge hole in the list . Some very ordinary recruiting has also contributed .Polec an average ,inconsistent player on huge money .
    Andrew -I would add Campbell , Tyson and Pittard to your `delist list `The recruiting of recycled players has been a flop although Walker might be an exception .
    Agree about Hall . His foot skills are abysmal , although he is not the Lone Ranger ! Simpkin another player that butchers the ball
    The loss of Cunnington has exposed the lack of genuine ball winners in the mid -field . We will continue to struggle until he returns .

  3. John Butler says

    Starkers, I’ll give you the Blues perspective.

    Last week your Roos were dreadful against Richmond. Headless chooks.

    But this week was viewed as a danger game by Carlton supporters. We remember the many floggings you’ve given us in recent years. For some reason, we struggle against you blokes.

    It happened again. The first term apart, we were a long long way below what we’d produced the previous week against Port. We hung on, but if Cunnington and Zeibell had been playing we probably wouldn’t have.

    It wasn’t a great game. The umpires played a part in that – they wouldn’t stop blowing the whistle. In spite of that, Cripps was regularly grappled by two of your blokes at almost every stoppage. Umpires no longer seem to have any game smarts or awareness. It has probably been instructed out of them.

    I concur with Smokie and Gary above. At least we’ve taken our medicine and rebuilt. A lot of pain has been absorbed, and there are still no guarantees, but North appear to be hedging their bets about rebuilding. The list looks neither here nor there.

    Was any effort made to get some experienced assistants for Shaw?

    Carlton have a long way to go, so we won’t be casting too many stones. But I reckon you have cause to be concerned.

    Hope all is well otherwise.


  4. matt watson says

    It’s been a long time of mediocrity. While Hawthorn were able to recruit players and turn them into premiership stars, we seem to recruit too many players that are replicas of those we already have on our list.
    We have 20-odd players out of contract this year, and there’s a lot we could safely let go.
    But we have to be measured in our approach.
    Remember in 2016 when we won 10 consecutive games to open the season?
    Then we lost a senior player to injury each week for the next seven rounds…
    Injury can ruin a team, and expose the kids and our depth players.
    North need to identify, as best they possibly can, why we are getting hammered by injury.
    And we have to realise our list has little depth and too many slow midfielders with poor skills.
    Last year, Rhys bought vigour and hardness to the team. This year, it has been mostly absent.
    And as a hangover from the Brad Scott era, we have a lapse in every game. One quarter where the opposition kick 4-5 goals and we get 0-1. Stamp that out and we’re a lot more competitive…

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Yes to everything said above.

    Going well, JB. Hope you are as well.

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