- Nov 14, 2010
- AFL Club
- North Melbourne
Still leaning towards Lmac he bleeds blue and white
Yeah okay okay, I'll admit it, I voted for Jy and then I read this and it turns out that strangers on the internet can change your mind after all.I just want to put in more than my two cents for Jack Ziebell.
Seems to me - how do you get through 3 incredibly tough seasons (one spent mostly in a mental health ruining bubble, when playing at all) with massive turnover of coaches, staff, and players, and still have a playing group where no one actually wants to leave, the culture and attitude of the players excellent and improvement is gradual but noticeable? Good leadership is how, and that starts with the captain.
The thing that stuck out to me about 2020 was that there were 4 clubs at the bottom of the ladder that year - us, Hawthorn, Sydney and Adelaide. 2 were in the bubble - us and Hawthorn. Hawthorn had one of the most experienced and successful coaches in history at the helm. We had a first year coach who (quite fairly, but unfortunately) found it too hard. And the club didn't get the support levels right either. Yet the playing group stuck fat and toughed it out. What little grumbling there might have been was bloody minuscule given the situation. That requires leadership to keep everything from falling apart. The club and the coach couldn't offer that, so I'll bet it was Jack and the rest of the leadership group that kept things from going pear-shaped. That's ******* shinboner spirit, right there.
We haven't had internal rumblings, off field scandals (other than some really minor stuff), players breaking up into cliques (especially likely with a young group - see Gold Coast), senior players behaving like idiots (see Fev at Brisbane) , lay down sallies (see Carlton) or any of that.
What we've seen over the last 18 months is a playing group that has been underdone, overinjured, too young and undercoached (not badly coached, just too many of them), stick fat and build up some self-belief through adversity. That requires quality leadership from within the playing group, and that starts with the captain.
On a personal level, he's had to eat a big slice of humble pie being put in defence. He won't have missed the not so subtle message that is putting the captain in the back pocket cos he's a liability everywhere else... What has he done? Been a man about it, not cracked the sads as many would (cough Polec cough) and is probably playing some of the best footy of his career. That too is leadership. He's sent a big message to the playing group, especially to the kids, that no-one from the captain down is bigger than the club (in case they were wondering).
I'm more proud of this playing group than any playing group North has had since...possibly forever. This forum has been talking excitedly about all these talented kids on our list, and those kids have been talking excitedly about the club. Who can forget Will Phillips tugging the jumper when he kicked his first goal? Yet if these kids came into a club full of internal divisions and cliques and poor morale (see Melbourne not that long ago), then those kids will quickly develop the mercenary mindset and be on their way out the door quicker than you can say "contract negotiation". That's not the prevailing mentality at Arden Street, as instead we have kids excitedly signing back on way before they need to. They want to be here. That kind of culture comes from leadership. Which starts with...you guessed it.
It all starts with the Captain. I reckon Jack has had his fingerprints over every reason we're bloody excited about the future of this football club, and he doesn't get anywhere enough credit for it.
So personally - based on the last 3 years, Jack has more than earned the right to captain the club for as long as he bloody well wants, and I fully trust him to know when it ends. And in my mind, the one remaining thing he needs to be declared the greatest captain this club has had is to lift that Cup - and I bloody well hope he gets to.
I think 2022 is still JZ's as captain. It's hard to captain a premiership side, but I'm guessing it's just as hard to captain a wooden spoon side - to keep every player focussed on the longer term, to keeping to the game plan, to keep morale up while losing, the media scrutiny, etc. JZ did pretty well AND had to adapt to a new position. So I think he did a good job so there isn't a pressing need to change. Jy emerged last year and would be a worthy captain, but he hasn't forced the change. LMac had a nightmare year but it would be wise to see how he responds in 2022. Those two have another year to develop and really push for captaincy in 2023. Good times ahead.McDonald needs to get into ripping shape and have a huge year across HB to be any chance of Captain. He may be a player that is the social glue of the group and have everyone's respect, but if you can't get any consistency with your game, you will make a mediocre leader.
This may be harsh, but he has had one year of elite football in eight. He really needs to bring it in 2022. I really hope he does as he has proven to be such a weapon with his intercept marking, general defensive play and run and dash to set up our forward thrusts.