The curse is real?

When Russ flew into Brisbane, his mood was pensive.  It was that damned curse.  He couldn’t shake it.  North was going to lose.  He believed in the curse more than he believed in his club.  Form didn’t matter.


Russ spent three hours in the sunshine with Adam G at the Breakfast Creek Hotel.  It soothed his mood but by seven o’clock unease had set in.  He refused all offers of a beer.  We took joy in Essendon’s loss to Geelong.


On Saturday, over dinner and beers at the German Club, Russ spread the curse like a true believer.  He offered a blunt assessment.


‘This is the fifth time I’ve come to Brisbane and I’ve never seen North win.  If we lose it’s because I’m here and it means the curse is real.’

North should’ve been five goals up at quarter time.  We should’ve been eight goals up at half time.  Instead, we played careless, listless football, slow and reactive, playing from behind.  The midfield drifted aimlessly.


We couldn’t keep up with Aish, Zorko, Redden and Green, who found pace, space and time.  Brisbane kicked seven goals in the second quarter and took a 21-point lead in at half time.


Nearby Brisbane fans were talking to Russ about the curse and thanking him for coming.  AJ was offering cheek until I outed him as an Essendon fan and people in the crowd booed him.


It was raining as Jonathon Brown was honoured.  Immediately afterwards, thousands of Brisbane fans filed out from the ground, going home.  Possible victory was meaningless.  They’d turned up to honour Brown and the past, not his teammates and the future.


I pondered the timing of Brown’s retirement.  It gave Brisbane a reason to win.  It also provided irrefutable evidence that something unpredictable happened each time Russ came to Brisbane to watch North.


Midway through the third term the lead blew out to 33-points.  Two late goals to North reduced the margin to 20-points at three-quarter time.


The final quarter was frantic and dreadful.  North panicked in space and without pressure.  Targets were missed.  Guesses were made instead of decisions.  Brisbane repeatedly drove North backwards.


Aaron Black couldn’t make the distance from 50.  Brent Harvey missed a long range snap.  Drew Petrie had a chance to put North in front and kicked the ball out of bounds.


The final margin was just four points, but Brisbane kicked five behinds in the last term and might’ve won by four goals.


North finally showed some fight after the final siren, when Rockliff hacked off at Brent Harvey.  Rockliff should be embarrassed.  When a man who has achieved nothing picks on a legend, it doesn’t reveal suppressed passion, it shows rampant stupidity.


When Brad Scott became involved in the pathetic squabble, the stupidity doubled and the North Melbourne football club was twice embarrassed.  Rockliff played well.  There was no point arguing.


Afterwards, back at home, the post-game commiseration raged for hours.  Russ was insistent.  His curse had struck again.


‘I don’t believe in curses, I believe in reality,’ Adam G said.  ‘And that is a shit coach, a shit game plan and a lack of enthusiasm.  Scott’s been there five years and we haven’t improved and I won’t be happy until he goes.’


‘That loss has stuffed our season,’ I said.  ‘I’d like to see Scott be honest like Pagan was after we lost to Fitzroy in 1993.’


‘I’ve always believed in the curse,’ Russ said.  ‘Maybe I shouldn’t come back next year.

It was all too much for Andy.  ‘Don’t ever come back Russ,’ he said.  ‘Fuck off back to Melbourne you fucking Victorian.  Who do you think you are bringing your filth into Queensland?’


It was an impassioned, slightly misplaced rant because Andy follows Brisbane.  He mightn’t believe in the curse but he likes it.


There is no science that can prove the curse exists, so I’m trying to remain sceptical.  The facts though, bear examination.


North has been favourites each time Russ has come to Brisbane.  Each time they have lost.  It no longer seems a coincidence.  And six weeks ago, North beat Brisbane by 87-points.


I can’t prove Russ’s curse exists, but I can’t argue it doesn’t.




BRISBANE LIONS 1.1 8.4 10.5 10.10 (70)

NORTH MELBOURNE 3.5 4.7 6.9 9.12 (66)


Malarkey Votes:   3 J Aish, 2 P Hanley, 1 S Martin
Goals: Brisbane Lions: J Green 3 C Beams 2 J Aish 2 D Merrett D Zorko M Close

North Melbourne: D Petrie 4 A Swallow 2 B Harvey L Thomas S Gibson
Best: Brisbane Lions: Hanley, Aish, Bewick, Taylor, Rockliff, Redden

North Melbourne: Petrie, Dal Santo, Gibson, Swallow, Harvey
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Craig Fleer, Andrew Stephens

Official Crowd: 15,862 at Gabba.

About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. It may be that a fan driven crowd sourced campaign sponsor Russ’ next trip to Brisbane is about to break out…

  2. … campaign to sponsor…

  3. Russ is welcome next time Richmond play North

    You could rent him out as a bad luck charm

  4. I’d reached the conclusion that my girlfriend was a Carlton curse after they lost the first two games she went to with me.

    Now they tend to lose regardless of whether she’s there or not, so that curse is now somewhat redundant.

  5. Thanks Matt. It’s quite a curse that one. This was supposed to be the year of busting hoodoos. wasn’t it?


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