Round 9 – North Melbourne v Sydney: Bigger Losers than Labor


Saturday May 18, 2019, will forever be remembered as the night the ALP lost the “unlosable” election, a loss that many pundits did not foresee. On the same evening, the North Melbourne Football Club was arguably as big a loser as the Labor Party, turning in a performance as insipid as anything they have dished up in this most forgettable of seasons. Playing at their supposed “fortress” at Blundstone Arena, North were outrun and out-contested by a Swans team containing a large cohort barely old enough to have voted at the election.


Cunningham, Kennedy, Franklin, Smith, McVeigh, Grundy, Jack. This is not a roll call of electorates on which the ALP missed out. This was the Swans’ injury list, representing well over 1500 games worth of experience. As such, it was predicted that Sydney had no hope of winning this contest. Much like the conservative parties whom, after six years of disunity, scandal and dis-function, had no right to win this election. But political and football pundits alike did not reckon on an opposition lacking a clear,  decipherable and easy-to-understand game-plan.


Let me be frank: North absolutely stunk it up in Hobart, particularly in the second and third quarters, when a litany of skill errors and poor decision-making let the Swans back into, and then dominate, the game. And again, it was the same old culprits. If you are having trouble filling out this particular blue and white ballot paper, let me assist. Place a “1” in the box which says: “A Jamie Macmillan miskick will cost North a certain goal. Place a “2” in the box which says: “Luke McDonald will fumble and gift Sydney a goal”. Place a “3” in the box which says: “Scott Thompson will do a few stupid things”.


It is true that unlike Labor, the Kangaroos mounted a spirited and stirring final quarter comeback, reducing the three quarter-time margin of 27 points to just 5 at the final siren. But this was nowhere near enough to disguise the earlier errors. The Swans were under-manned, and almost out on their feet, but clung on to be first past the post.


What is the plan at North Melbourne? We continue to field teams whose average age is, well, not young. And this from a club that is supposedly rebuilding! Or is it? At least the ALP will believe that they have a chance in three years’ time. Years and years of gloom are staring North Melbourne in the face.


The finals, and the prospect of finishing anywhere the middle rungs of the ladder, are now but a dream for North Melbourne. But displaying his usual tin ear in the post-match presser, coach Brad Scott chose to dismiss the notion that getting more games into youngsters such as McKay, LDU, Bailey Scott and others was the right course of action. “We’re all about development, so it wouldn’t change if we were 7-2. For three years now we’ve said we need to build our midfield. We’ve got to develop those young players and that would be irrespective of win-loss. The balance was OK tonight and it will continue.” If ever there was evidence that playing youngsters is not necessarily a bad thing, the Swans team-sheet was living proof: 10 players aged 22 or younger, with only five players aged 26 or older. In contrast, half of the Kangaroos team was aged 26 or over, with four players 30+.


At least ALP leader Bill Shorten had the good grace to resign to allow the party to start afresh. What are the chances of Brad Scott doing the same?



NORTH MELBOURNE  3.1   5.3   6.7     10.12 (72)
SYDNEY                    1.4   8.6   10.10  11.11 (77)


North Melbourne: Turner 2, Brown, Wood, Cunnington, Larkey, Zurhaar, Simpkin, Tarrant, Polec
Sydney: Papley 4, Florent 2, Blakey, McCartin, Heeney, Lloyd, Dawson


North Melbourne: Ziebell, Anderson, Tarrant, Macmillan, Simpkin
Sydney:Hewett, Parker, Papley, Dawson, Lloyd, Heeney


Umpires: Hosking, Howorth, Chamberlain


Official crowd: 12,799 at Blundstone Arena


Malarkey votes: 3 Hewett (SS), 2 Papley (SS), 1 Parker (SS)

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Well, Smokie, I tipped North by 2 goals and Labor by 2 seats.
    Thankfully, I’m not a gambler.
    Thought Ziebell was brilliant. Gee he could do with a hand, though.

  2. No AFL coach is going to resign while they are all on $500,000+ per season. Resign = no payout, sacked = pay me out the contract term!

  3. Was saying to my sister about an hour ago, there’s no way I’d lose sleep or cry or be over-emotional over a political party’s loss, but certainly over a Swans Grand Final loss – actually a finals loss will do it. Funny game footy!

  4. Mark Duffett says

    A Roo coup?

    Good campaign, Smokie.

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Jaw dropping horrible, Smoke.

    The club has lost its way.

    Time for change season’s end.

  6. Place a “3” in the box which says: “Scott Thompson will do a few stupid things”. Ouch. Sometimes I wonder if Tex Walker is running on the same ticket. Still astonished by what I saw unfolding on the television in our King St digs last Saturday night.

    Thanks Smokie.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Smokie Dawson, faceless man of North Melbourne FC, gets another scalp.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Fascinated to see where North go now, an interim coach or make a long term appointment in the next few weeks as there is plenty of 2019 left. Do you have a preferred candidate Smokie?

  9. Keiran Croker says

    A week early Smokie! Will John Longmire join Rhyce Shaw? Not likely, me thinks. Young Swans are looking like a better group.

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