Opinion Commentary & Media III

ferball

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Yeah, I disagree.

We made these changes despite the financial cost, and that now there is pressure to ensure we made the right appointments as their replacements for obvious on field and off field reasons. I for one am sick and tired of being almost rans, not surprised a north supporting journo is critical of what we have been of late
We've looked more likely to achieve success since we made the changes than before them tho. Barrett should have acknowledged that.

It seems from his article that we made those changes despite the financial cost because of the smaug (i'm leaving that typo, it seems appropriate) nature of the deal between Scott and Dilena.

Scott isn't even trying to coach a team to win the flag but is happy to sit there till the end of the year ... tanking^ ... and Dilena is okay with that. No fu**en wonder we've been mediocre for so long. Joyce - the GM of footy, thinks this is okay. If Arch is involved in these decisions then its no wonder. He'd know you can't have a coach like that or an admin that'll support it.

Why didn't Damo point out the obvious problems that situation causes? How much more damage would we have done to the club and in particular to the playing group if Buckley hadn't acted? If we'd tanked the season? Why didn't he simply accept that they had to act? Then fine ... put all the pressure he likes on because it is warranted to a point. It was their call, they made the decision and they have to wear the consequences. I'm cool with that tho. If it turns out a failure they failed trying to save us from a worse fate and that needs to be recognised.

He needs to look at where we are now. And how successful we were on field after Scott left as an indication of why that change needed to happen. And as an aside, imo one of the reasons Shaw has been a success is that he was dumped in it and had to rely on his own personal internal resources to actually coach the side.

North believes the appointment of Shaw will be proven to be a masterstroke, and he has impressed every single person at the club, partially due to a highly unusual quality for a person holding a senior position in AFL clubland – that of being refreshingly prepared to openly concede deficiencies in his make-up.

There you have it. Shaw is a no bullshit, up front individual who is capable of assessing his own character accurately and identify what he needs to do to "improve" as a person. (No wonder I like the guy. That's actual "role model" behaviour.) It's exactly what this team needs. Damo'd know if he was an actual footy journalist who cared for the club instead of a footy gossip columnist. If Rhyce can do that to himself he can do it to the players, and he has also shown he can get the best out of them by believing in their ability to get the best out of themselves (what he said at 1/4 time against Hawthorn is my proof of this.) Why wouldn't you give someone like that a chance at coaching given the circumstances and especially once he started winning? In his first game as official coach he broke this years premiers.

Barret isn't prepared to say that. Or can't see it cos he's such a miserable prick (hi Damo.) But if he wanted to find something positive for us to read then he could have, and still maintained that pressure on Buckley and Archer that they have to wear the consequences of their actions early this season. Even tho they probably had the full support of most members.

There's one other bit of that that troubles me.





^fu**en well tanking. That is what it is. 🤬
 

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Passmore

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Sounds like he is saying he has first- hand knowledge of something
Well if Barrett is "one of us but won't admit it" then he's really not "one of us". Of that part I have no doubt.

He's an AFL mouthpiece trying to gain some credibility with this. A real North person wouldn't put their name to this tripe.

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ferball

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Less than half that deal later, early in the 2019 season, Scott is exited. At the same time, North Melbourne chairman Ben Buckley decides the chief executive officer and general manager of football, Carl Dilena and Cam Joyce, will also be departing.

Financial arrangements pertaining to Scott, Dilena and assistant coach Leigh Tudor, who has also parted, will tally about $1.5 million on the 2020 books.
(Didn't Lurkers choose to leave? How is that an impost? And ... are those numbers accurate?)

That is serious impost for Ben Amarfio, even before he walks in to the club later this month as its new CEO.
...
The regularly struggling club - the one which took 50 years to win its first VFL premiership, which was forced into a private ownership structure in the 1980s as a last-resort survival project, which the AFL was desperate to move to the Gold Coast in the late 2000s – is again in a vulnerable state.

AFL headquarters has been an interested, and occasionally concerned, observer of the North Melbourne goings-on this year.
(They could easily have been concerned at our shitful start or the whole situation around Maj but this implies its about us in general.)

That the AFL needs to, after 2021 when deals to play games in Tasmania by North Melbourne (Hobart) and Hawthorn (Launceston) expire, finally and emphatically resolve its own business strategy in the Apple Isle is both a worrying and exciting backdrop for the Roos as they attempt to work their way out of their latest period of uncertainty.

There is clearly a deal to be made for North in Tasmania, a potentially lucrative one which could see the club maintain an 11 "home" game arrangement in Melbourne as well as servicing eight or nine matches in Hobart and Launceston.
(I've got a triangular block of land for sale. Its 100m on one side 57 on another and the third side is 43m long. Its in the middle of the CBD and I'll sell if for $150K which is a massive bargain. Any takers?)

Unless the club quickly regains authoritative control of its own operations, though, any deal will be made on its behalf. (I thought this was exactly what we did when we sacked Scotts, Joyce and Dilena. Yet he's saying we didn't and using that to imply we aren't good enough to control our own destiny and that's the AFLs excuse for de facto shipping us to Tassie. This is actually very dangerous writing.)




The italics are from Damo's article and the normal font in brackets is my own thoughts on what he has written.

Notice that at no point in that article did he mention we have successfully paid of our debt, started VFL and AFLW teams and begun a process to upgrade our home ground and eventually even develop a large chunk of inner Melbourne in the process. IE grown the club massively in response to the GC relocation threat. Because then he wouldn't be able to maintain the "we are useless morons" narrative he's been pushing. Even tho its all stuff that happened while Scotts, Dilena and even Joyce were involved in the club and is more reason to put pressure on Archer and Buckley if it all goes pear shaped.

The reason something seems off about this article is something is off about it. Someone is trying to frame Arch and Buckley's (so far successful) attempts to maintain authoritative control of our club and its direction as an excuse for the AFL to take control of our affairs and effectively ship us off to Tassie. Not just that, they want to do it in a way that fu**s us even more by splitting our games between Hobart and Launnie, diluting any home ground advantage we might get from playing in Hobart.

There's more I could say to criticise him but I need to go to bed soon. If I'm up for it I'll do it tomorrow night.
 
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Luke72

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Damo should concentrate on getting a clear answer from HQ about the Tassie strategy. We are one of the dominoes in the line that falls depending on decisions starting with them.

If they had the knackers to say Tassie will never be given a team then his co/re-location angle has some merit but while they dangle another license as a possibility anything else is speculation and fear mongering.

If I were Tasmanian I would want a brand new team. The 4 home games we have scheduled there are pretty terrible and we have consistently had a majority of poor quality opponents when we play there. Hawthorn are clearly in it just for the money. It would be hard to commit to a team that can’t have your interest as it’s number 1 priority.
 

Ryz

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Yeah, I agree. He points out the obvious from the past few years to create a narrative to further support his point we better have nailed these decisions.

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To win football games, we need to score more than the opposition.

With that level of analysis I just provided, im pretty confident Damo would hire me.
 

shintemaster

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Anyway, Geelong should be complaining about the "replacement games" system because several times they've had to play home games at Etihad/Marvel to accommodate our Hobart setup. It's not fair on them and it's a temporary salve at best.

We need to be out of Tasmania.
They play home games at Etihad because the AFL chooses to play them there. We are in no way responsible as we have no choice in where we play.
 

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RobZombie

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This is what he said in response to someone pointing out Barrett's petulance

Read a couple more of his tweets - he's a Barrett apologist. Suggests that Damo is still "one of us" who does work "behind the scenes". I call bullsh!t on that.

For clarity, NO he isn't one of us and NO he hasn't done anything beneficial to the club behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes doesn’t mean shit when you’re shit canning publicly
Yeah this is my issue with Ben's reply. I’m not all that bothered by his original stance - that somewhere in Barrett's article is some important truth - but ...

If you have a position of public influence, what you choose to do with it is who you are. Just like there’s no separate Scott Morrison who somehow isn’t torturing children and refouling Sri Lankan refugees while he whips up a cheeky Sri Lankan curry with Annabel Crabb, there’s no separate Damo, no matter what he does behind the scenes, who doesn’t use his AFL media pulpit to take continuous potshots at the NMFC, for what seems to be mostly petty personal grudges.

Getting someone with an agenda to return your calls and running whatever they tell you isn’t journalism.
 

Passmore

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The author of that tweet genuinely is a top quality north person and a long-standing highly respected poster on here.
I'm sure he is. North people generally are top quality. That he is being seduced by Barrett's bullshit is concerning.

If a rusted on North person is buying it, imagine what the "softer" North barracker is thinking.

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Boro

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The author of that tweet genuinely is a top quality north person and a long-standing highly respected poster on here.

I think plenty know who wrote it...that doesn't mean he hasn't got a poor/incorrect take on the point of article though does it?

Damo = Uncle Tom...He's doing the AFL's bidding, which is fine...it's time we stepped up and started proving people wrong again.
 

the flying ham

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I'm sure he is. North people generally are top quality. That he is being seduced by Barrett's bullshit is concerning.

If a rusted on North person is buying it, imagine what the "softer" North barracker is thinking.

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Perhaps I'm missing the point entirely, and this is my final query re: this article but can you explain what of the article is bullshit?

That we haven't done anything field of note for a while?
That we have significant financial costs under the soft cap for 2020?
Or that without improvement on field we are in danger of being pushed into a market we already have a foothold in?

All legitimate and fairly logical conclusions I would have thought. We don't need smoke being blown up the clubs arse because we sacked a shit coach, whose contract we extended not long ago. I'm all for the blowtorch being applied. We need wins.
 

Orange Peanut

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The author of that tweet genuinely is a top quality north person and a long-standing highly respected poster on here.
Former or current poster? I spend half my time on NorfTwitter trying to match tweeters to BF, and after following Ben for a couple of years was convinced he wasn't a regular on here.
Can attest that he is a top quality tweeter and North fan though, it's why I thought his take (being polar opposite to how we saw it) was a good one to add to the conversation.
 

LuvtheKangas

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Perhaps I'm missing the point entirely, and this is my final query re: this article but can you explain what of the article is bullshit?

That we haven't done anything field of note for a while?
That we have significant financial costs under the soft cap for 2020?
Or that without improvement on field we are in danger of being pushed into a market we already have a foothold in?

All legitimate and fairly logical conclusions I would have thought. We don't need smoke being blown up the clubs arse because we sacked a shit coach, whose contract we extended not long ago. I'm all for the blowtorch being applied. We need wins.
Perhaps you're missing the sub-text that we're reacting to; here's Snake's snapshot of the high level negativity.

tumultuous
haemorrhaging
fractured
desperate
vulnerable
ruthlessly applied a figurative flamethrower
crucial to the future.
it is make or break time
embarrassingly poorly
serious impost
regularly struggling
again in a vulnerable state.
latest period of uncertainty.
tumultuous
blowing up


I sometimes wonder if Damian gets too emotionally over-invested in North.
 

Marstermind

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Here's another view from The Mongrel Punt (HB Meyers)


It’s not often I read columns by Damian Barrett with interest, but one caught my eye this morning. He addressed the North Melbourne Football Club and what he perceived as an uphill battle for the club that has perennially been tagged as ‘struggling’ by those in the AFL media to remain at their spiritual home of Arden Street.


Yep, here we go again, right?


North is not a powerhouse club . Odds are it never will be. It is a suburban Melbourne club with a home ground that ceased being used as a V/AFL venue in 1985 – I’m guessing many people reading this weren’t even born at that stage. I was. This old-timer used to attend games there as a kid.


I would hear jokes about the way the Kangaroos would recruit, or more to the point, how other teams would use the North Melbourne facilities as the comparison when showing off their own. “You could come to Carlton and use our state of the art facilities, or go to North Melbourne… and do push ups in the mud.”


North were a bit of an easy target for shots like that. And it was other stupid comments akin to that which led to Carlton players having the shit punched out of them in London at one stage… but that’s a story for another time.


Barrett may believe that North are up against it, and his intimations indicate that the Kangaroos could still be a Tasmanian team before all is said and done, but that plucky team from Arden Street has made a habit of proving people wrong over the journey. Whilst the bespectacled journo has laid the challenge at the feet of the new North coach, Rhyce Shaw, the new CEO Ben Amarfio, and new General Manager of Football, Brady Rawlings, I prefer to look at what the team is capable of on-field, and as we scan the list of the footy club, North are looking well-poised heading into the next few years.




THE LEADERSHIP




I don’t care who gets the official titles of leader at a club. I trust the eye test, and having watched North quite closely in 2019, there are some who stand out.





JACK ZIEBELL


For some reason I thought Jack was older than he is. At 28, the captain was redeployed into the middle more often in 2019, and with the emergence of a couple of young stars in the making up forward, we may see him spend even more time there in 2020.


So what does he bring to the table? What makes him a good captain?


There are few players in the league harder than Ziebell. At one stage, all he had to do was fart in someone’s general direction and he’d be rubbed out for three weeks, but after a couple of years of not running afoul of the match review officer, it seems as though Jack has found the sweet spot in terms of being relentlessly uncompromising when the ball is in the area, and not getting reported.


If he gets a full pre-season, Ziebell has the potential to be a game changer with the right support around him.





BEN CUNNINGTON


Just the lazy six games with 20+ contested possessions in 2019… you know, the same kind of numbers that the media wet themselves about when it was Patrick Cripps doing it.


Anyway, Cunnington is a definite “follow my lead” kind of player. He’s not out there with his head in the social section of the paper, he’s not sitting on every second panel show trotting out clichés or having columns ghost-written by blokes like me (heads up… I work cheap!). He plays footy.


Cunners plays it hard, plays it tough, and occasionally dumps a tagger on his shoulder when he gets a little pissed off. Remember the furore about his little love taps to the stomach last season? Remember the cries to suspend him for those? Geez there’s a lot of soy boys around, isn’t there?


Gimme Cunnington at a stoppage any day of the week – I’ll back him to win it. That’s leadership. No BS, no posturing – just tough work at the coal face.





ROBBIE TARRANT


I really felt for Tarrant last season. He was cruising along, playing his regular kind of unsung and underrated defence when some bozo on commentary decided to wheel out the stats that he hadn’t been beaten in a marking contest all season. It was something like 42 one-on-one contests in arrow at that stage.


It was like the Lou Richards’ kiss of death. By the end of the first quarter against the West Coast Eagles, Tarrant had been cleanly beaten in marking contests twice. It was bound to happen.


While other defenders around the league took the plaudits again, Tarrant compiled another stellar season down back for North. Like Cunnington in the middle, Tarrant is all steak, whilst many others supply the sizzle.




THE STARS




BEN BROWN


The most consistent full forward of the last three years, Brown has gone 63 goals in 2017, 61 in 2018, and 64 in 2019. Sadly, his efforts have yet to net him a Coleman Medal, OR an All-Australian berth… that somehow went to Tom Hawkins this season.


Brown has been lacking that genuine second option to take the heat off him at times, but as I’ll get to soon enough, North youngsters are showing signs that this might be about to change.


If Brown can have his fourth consecutive season at 60+ goals, he almost deserves an AA blazer as recognition for his work over recent seasons. Reliable, a beautiful kick, and an absolute workhorse, Brown has been the constant up forward for the Roos, and with help starting to come into their own, there’s the chance he might get even better.





SHAUN HIGGINS


The Rolls Royce… the Ferrari… the Jeep Compass… ok, I threw that last one in as a joke. Higgins was on track to crack 30 touches per game until he was injured very early in the Round 12 game against Gold Coast.


Still, he managed to post a career-high disposal average for the third season in a row, and at 31 years old, shows no signs of slowing down just yet. Whilst Cunnington is the midfield ‘yin’, Higgins just ‘yangs’ it up on the outside, where his run and carry can tear a game apart.


I love watching him stream toward half forward, but I have to admit there have been times when he has decided to blast it 55 metres to not much, when the forwards are all leading toward him. Maybe it’s the heat of the moment, but if Higgins can lower those eyes just a couple more times per game, it could be the difference between winning and losing.


Still, with the ball in hand, Higgins remains a potent weapon. It will be interesting to see whether some other North mids can make the next step into the top bracket and alleviate the pressure on him in 2020. North has a few that should be primed to take the next step.





TODD GOLDSTEIN


One of the best and most consistent big men of the last ten years, Goldy is now often overlooked in the wake of the Grundy v Gawn All-Australian tussles, but on any given day he can be the most important player on the park.


Ignoring overtures from other clubs to re-sign with the Roos, Goldstein’s tap work is integral to the midfield grunt of Cunnington being effective. Cunners had 10+ clearances six times in 2019 – how many of those first possessions were the result of Goldstein playing his role perfectly?


Whilst nobody expects him to challenge the big two rucks for the title of best in the game at 31 years old, Goldstein’s value to North will come in the way he aids young mids such as Dumont and Simpkin first use, helping them grow into their roles and supporting them via his tap work.




THE NEXT LEVEL




JARED POLEC


I’m a big fan of giving someone twelve months in a new environment to acclimatise before judging them, but a fair few people aren’t of the same opinion. The knives came out for Jared Polec at times in 2019 as he didn’t quite hit the same highs he did at Port in 2018.


There were little things I noticed, with players handballing to him as he was running onto his non-preferred foot, which caused hack kicks forward… those things start getting ironed out as players spend more time together. I’m pretty confident in stating that, injuries aside, we should see Polec post career-high numbers in 2020.


If he does that, those blokes in the top bracket will have some company, and the North forwards will be licking their lips at the prospect of long, direct kicks inside 50 giving them every chance.





TRENT DUMONT


This is the guy, right here. Entering year six at Arden Street, Dumont has all the tools to move into the upper echelon of midfielders. He’s24 years old, has improved his numbers every season since debuting and is now poised to take that next step.


And North Melbourne need him to.


The Kangaroos are a genuine class midfielder away from having a great midfield. Their kids coming through are excellent, but Dumont has to be that bridge between the old guard of Cunning/Ziebell/Higgins and the new breed of LDU/Simpkin and Scott. I would go so far to say as to that Trent Dumont will be North Melbourne’s most important player in 2020.


He started 2019 like a house on fire… actually, no – a house on fire kind of just burns to the ground and doesn’t go anywhere. He started like a Corvette Stingray and ended up like a Jeep Compass (yep, Jeep Compass again… can you tell what I drive?). In the first 14 games, he had under 21 disposals just once. But in the last seven games of the season, he dipped below 20 on four occasions.


Maybe another pre-season will help remedy that apparent fade out from Dumont? The spot in the midfield is wide open for him to walk in and claim. A midfield mix of Cunnington/Higgins/Dumont and Jacobs could provide a real handful for opposition coaches to combat, but Dumont will need to play his part at the expected level. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Dumont needs to be strong in 2020.





JED ANDERSON


This is the bloke who adds the back up to Ben Cunnington in the guts. If Cunners can’t get to the clearance, it’s Anderson’s job to get to the player who does, and drag them to the deck.


He seems to have kicked the injury bug now, playing 38 games over the past two years, and at 25 should be ready to well and truly enter his prime. It will be of interest as to how Rhyce Shaw uses him in 2020. If Ben Jacobs can’t get up, an accountable role for Anderson beckons, but if Jacobs is able to work his way back, it frees Anderson right up to wreak havoc at stoppages all over the park.


At 5.5 tackles per game, Anderson is North’s best exponent at the art of dragging an opponent down. If he can elevate that number toward seven and become one of the best in the league, North could have found themselves a genuine two-way player (I’m thinking an Elliot Yeo-type… in player type, if not in ability. Settle down Eagles supporters).





JASPER PITTARD


The pick of the 2019 recruits, Pittard didn’t need too much time to adjust to life at Arden Street, and finished in the top ten in the Syd Barker Medal.


Pittard is not your regular kind of running defender. He reads the ball well but can be a little… hmmm, wayward at times. Is that fair? Not that he is alone in that regard – plenty of the elite runners in the game seem to get a little lost when they take off from half back. Just watch Adam Saad.


If Pittard can improve on what was already a very solid debut year for North, things are looking very rosy.




THE KIDS COMING THROUGH




LUKE DAVIES-UNIACKE


The progress has been slow and steady for LDU over his two years. Whilst it is unfair to expect more at this stage, there would be quite a few at Arden Street hoping he has his breakout year in 2020, an quite a few disappointed if he doesn’t.


He has shown flashes of his immense ability, holding the ball for an extra second or two to assess the positioning further up the ground demonstrated the poise that classy players possess, and you’d have to think that North would be eyeing him off as a potential replacement in the midfield for Shaun Higgins in the long run.


With almost 15 touches per game to his name in 2019, LDU should be looking for 19-20 disposals per contest next season – minimum.





JY SIMPKIN


Consistency. That’s all that’s required now from the 21 year old. He has proven he can get plenty of the ball, but needs to do it more often to take the pressure off the Cunnington/Higgins combination.


He had 25+ disposals on four occasions in 2019, but had 12 or less six times. The gap between his best and worst needs to close dramatically, because North are a team that needs consistency. Wild fluctuations in output not only hamper the gameplan, but leave coaches scrambling to compensate for a player’s inability to get involved.


With 56 games now under his belt, Simpkin should be ready to start firing more often. This will be the season he cracks 20 touches per game, and if he can exceed that by a couple of touches, we could see him emerge as a player to rival the young midfield stars getting all the press.





NICK LARKEY


19 games to his name, two bags of five goals in 2019 and 26 goals for the season… North have found their marking option at centre half forward.


Coming into 2019, there was much speculation as to who would stand up and take the heat off Ben Brown. Many though Mason Wood could provide that target, and though he had a decent year, it quickly became apparent that he was not going to be the long-term solution.


But Larkey could be.


His 1.4 contested grabs per game may not sound like a heap, but it was the way he took those clunks that should be opening the eyes of both supporters and potential opponents. Taking the body contact and still pulling down one-grab marks is something so many young players cannot do. Hell, it’s something experienced players can’t do, but Larkey is doing it often. At 21, he has a couple of years to fill out, but in terms of young forwards, you’d look at a bloke like Aaron Naughton, then maybe Mitch Lewis, Esava Ratugolea and Larkey making up ground behind him.


Have loved what I’ve seen of him thus far.





TARRYN THOMAS


It’s so hard to pick how a second year star will go. Thomas showed enough in flashes to indicate he had special talent, but to expect too much too soon is to set him up to fail.


He had a steady year, bobbing up in games to kick a couple here and there, but didn’t grab the game by the scruff of the neck… not that there’s anything wrong with that; in his first year you wouldn’t expect him to.


Thomas looks to have the support around him to continue to develop at a pace that benefits him and the club. The talent is undoubted, but it will be how long that talent takes to morph into consistent form that will be on the minds of North supporters.





BAILEY SCOTT


Scott jumped out of the blocks in Round One, picking up 21 touches and kicking a couple of goals. North fans must have been thinking they’d hit the jackpot with the then-18 year old, but after a foot fracture in July, Scott didn’t get back into the senior team, playing just four games for the season.


He will be like a new recruit this season, only with a second pre-season under his belt. I was almost tempted to throw him to the x-factor category due to the way he plays the game and the potential for him to be a break out star in 2020, but erred on the side of caution.


Look, Scott could jump out of the gates again in the new season, and if he does, it’ll be another reason as to why the Roos are a team to watch.




THE X-FACTORS




CAMERON ZURHAAR


This is the bloke I’ve wanted to write about. If you’re not familiar with the work of this young man, keep your eyes and ears open as we start the 2020 season; you will soon be painfully aware of who he is.


An old-school player with the skills and finishing ability of a modern player, Zurhaar emerged as a potent forward who is unafraid of putting his body on the line. After nine games over 2017-18, Zurhaar played 19 in 2019 and emerged as the missing link in the North forward half. He finished with 26 goals for the season, but it was his attack on the man and the footy that impressed most.


As a forward, he finished with 11 tackles in North’s win against the Tigers in Round 11 – one of the main reasons the Kangaroos’ pressure was able to match that of Richmond, and he backed it up with nine tackles against the Hawks in Round 20 – a win that ruined the Hawks’ finals campaign.


Whilst the AFL media went into raptures about the exploits of Connor Rozee in Port Adelaide, with his bag of five goals against the Lions making the footy world sit up and take notice, Zurhaar’s five goal haul against Carlton didn’t receive the same amount of attention. Nor did his bag of five against the Saints. Whilst Rozee finished the season with a career high of five goals on one occasion, Zurhaar did it twice!


Ladies and gentlemen, Cam Zurhaar had his breakout season in 2019. If he builds on this in any way in 2020, North have found not only the answer to their question of who will be the beguine second forward option to help Ben Brown, but they’ve found someone that will pose so many questions for opposition coaches that even when he has an ordinary day, he causes headaches.





MAJAK DAW


Now here’s an interesting one. There was a point where it looked like it was career-over for Majak. After things looked at their most bleak, and we all put footy aside in the hopes he would be okay, there has been a bit of a spark, and Daw may yet play senior footy again. But at what level?


He was really starting to come into his own in 2018 as a key defender. He was reading the play better, taking intercept grabs, and making thumping spoils. With his physical gifts always apparent, the footy smarts were starting to come to the fore as well.


Can he get back to where he was? Can he slot into that back six to aid Robbie Tarrant and company stifle long kicks inside 50? If Daw can make it back and play good footy, it will be like having a new, ready-made recruit in defensive 50 to compensate for the loss of Scott Thompson.


There’ll be many eyes on Majak as pre-season progresses.





BEN JACOBS


The last of the x-factors, Ben Jacobs sat out 2019 and watched his title as best tagger in the game bounce to Matt de Boer. We have short memories in footy, and on his day, no one is harder to beat than Jacobs.


His impact on this North Melbourne team over the past five years has been immense. He is all but guaranteed to shut down one of the best opposition midfielders, and wins plenty of the footy in the process.


There will be plenty of eyes on Jacobs as he starts his pre-season. If those concussion symptoms are a thing of the past, North are an infinitely better side immediately. Don’t believe me? Check the win/loss record with/without him in recent years. It’s eye-opening.





So I’ve talked up the Kangaroos a bit. After thinking they may drop a fair bit last season, I’m of the opinion we could be seeing the re-emergence of North Melbourne as a finals team in 2020. They’ll need a bit of luck (all teams do) but with the right players firing, and the injury gods smiling on them, 2020 may not be as bleak as Damian Barrett would have you think.


And how nice would it be to throw his doom and gloom scenarios back in his face
 

Masked Avenger

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Nov 25, 2014
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Whether Barrett is embittered, an AFL stooge or some Svengali type secretly looking out for his beloved club, is irrelevant. For me, it's the message not the messenger The message is that the AFL has plans for our Club and it's called Tasmania. Exhibit 1 is the 2020 draw. More Sundays than an Ice creamery, 5 free to air games and playing our "marquee game" against the other lowest drawing Victorian team is simply us being cut from the herd. They're attempting to weaken us. It's history repeating. They picked off the weak in South Melbourne and Fitzroy when they were legacy planning and make no mistake we're in their sites. Like the beligerent bastards we are, we defied them over the Gold Coast and they're gonna do us slowly. Rather than whinging about Barrett, we should be doing real things such as renewing memberships now, encouraging family and friends to join up but most of all turn up to games.
 

LuvtheKangas

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Mar 11, 2006
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Whether Barrett is embittered, an AFL stooge or some Svengali type secretly looking out for his beloved club, is irrelevant. For me, it's the message not the messenger The message is that the AFL has plans for our Club and it's called Tasmania. Exhibit 1 is the 2020 draw. More Sundays than an Ice creamery, 5 free to air games and playing our "marquee game" against the other lowest drawing Victorian team is simply us being cut from the herd. They're attempting to weaken us. It's history repeating. They picked off the weak in South Melbourne and Fitzroy when they were legacy planning and make no mistake we're in their sites. Like the beligerent bastards we are, we defied them over the Gold Coast and they're gonna do us slowly. Rather than whinging about Barrett, we should be doing real things such as renewing memberships now, encouraging family and friends to join up but most of all turn up to games.
All true.

If Barrett was truly "one of us", then he should use the influence he has to encourage such increasing memberships and attendances, rather than (metaphorically) screaming at people to run away and never come back.

I whinge about Barrett because he delights in being part of the take-down of NMFC. He wants to see us destroyed so he can revel in the fact that he played a part in it. This is the only explanation for the nature of his articles on the club over the past few years.
 

Boozeroo

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Aren’t we in a better position off field and had a stronger season on field than bloody st Kilda ?

And yet Barrett the turd burglar keeps slinging shit our way
Seems pretty absurd to steal all those said Turds just to then fling them senselessly towards us.
 

Snake_Baker

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Apr 24, 2013
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Here's another view from The Mongrel Punt (HB Meyers)


It’s not often I read columns by Damian Barrett with interest, but one caught my eye this morning. He addressed the North Melbourne Football Club and what he perceived as an uphill battle for the club that has perennially been tagged as ‘struggling’ by those in the AFL media to remain at their spiritual home of Arden Street.


Yep, here we go again, right?


North is not a powerhouse club . Odds are it never will be. It is a suburban Melbourne club with a home ground that ceased being used as a V/AFL venue in 1985 – I’m guessing many people reading this weren’t even born at that stage. I was. This old-timer used to attend games there as a kid.


I would hear jokes about the way the Kangaroos would recruit, or more to the point, how other teams would use the North Melbourne facilities as the comparison when showing off their own. “You could come to Carlton and use our state of the art facilities, or go to North Melbourne… and do push ups in the mud.”


North were a bit of an easy target for shots like that. And it was other stupid comments akin to that which led to Carlton players having the shit punched out of them in London at one stage… but that’s a story for another time.


Barrett may believe that North are up against it, and his intimations indicate that the Kangaroos could still be a Tasmanian team before all is said and done, but that plucky team from Arden Street has made a habit of proving people wrong over the journey. Whilst the bespectacled journo has laid the challenge at the feet of the new North coach, Rhyce Shaw, the new CEO Ben Amarfio, and new General Manager of Football, Brady Rawlings, I prefer to look at what the team is capable of on-field, and as we scan the list of the footy club, North are looking well-poised heading into the next few years.




THE LEADERSHIP




I don’t care who gets the official titles of leader at a club. I trust the eye test, and having watched North quite closely in 2019, there are some who stand out.





JACK ZIEBELL


For some reason I thought Jack was older than he is. At 28, the captain was redeployed into the middle more often in 2019, and with the emergence of a couple of young stars in the making up forward, we may see him spend even more time there in 2020.


So what does he bring to the table? What makes him a good captain?


There are few players in the league harder than Ziebell. At one stage, all he had to do was fart in someone’s general direction and he’d be rubbed out for three weeks, but after a couple of years of not running afoul of the match review officer, it seems as though Jack has found the sweet spot in terms of being relentlessly uncompromising when the ball is in the area, and not getting reported.


If he gets a full pre-season, Ziebell has the potential to be a game changer with the right support around him.





BEN CUNNINGTON


Just the lazy six games with 20+ contested possessions in 2019… you know, the same kind of numbers that the media wet themselves about when it was Patrick Cripps doing it.


Anyway, Cunnington is a definite “follow my lead” kind of player. He’s not out there with his head in the social section of the paper, he’s not sitting on every second panel show trotting out clichés or having columns ghost-written by blokes like me (heads up… I work cheap!). He plays footy.


Cunners plays it hard, plays it tough, and occasionally dumps a tagger on his shoulder when he gets a little pissed off. Remember the furore about his little love taps to the stomach last season? Remember the cries to suspend him for those? Geez there’s a lot of soy boys around, isn’t there?


Gimme Cunnington at a stoppage any day of the week – I’ll back him to win it. That’s leadership. No BS, no posturing – just tough work at the coal face.





ROBBIE TARRANT


I really felt for Tarrant last season. He was cruising along, playing his regular kind of unsung and underrated defence when some bozo on commentary decided to wheel out the stats that he hadn’t been beaten in a marking contest all season. It was something like 42 one-on-one contests in arrow at that stage.


It was like the Lou Richards’ kiss of death. By the end of the first quarter against the West Coast Eagles, Tarrant had been cleanly beaten in marking contests twice. It was bound to happen.


While other defenders around the league took the plaudits again, Tarrant compiled another stellar season down back for North. Like Cunnington in the middle, Tarrant is all steak, whilst many others supply the sizzle.




THE STARS




BEN BROWN


The most consistent full forward of the last three years, Brown has gone 63 goals in 2017, 61 in 2018, and 64 in 2019. Sadly, his efforts have yet to net him a Coleman Medal, OR an All-Australian berth… that somehow went to Tom Hawkins this season.


Brown has been lacking that genuine second option to take the heat off him at times, but as I’ll get to soon enough, North youngsters are showing signs that this might be about to change.


If Brown can have his fourth consecutive season at 60+ goals, he almost deserves an AA blazer as recognition for his work over recent seasons. Reliable, a beautiful kick, and an absolute workhorse, Brown has been the constant up forward for the Roos, and with help starting to come into their own, there’s the chance he might get even better.





SHAUN HIGGINS


The Rolls Royce… the Ferrari… the Jeep Compass… ok, I threw that last one in as a joke. Higgins was on track to crack 30 touches per game until he was injured very early in the Round 12 game against Gold Coast.


Still, he managed to post a career-high disposal average for the third season in a row, and at 31 years old, shows no signs of slowing down just yet. Whilst Cunnington is the midfield ‘yin’, Higgins just ‘yangs’ it up on the outside, where his run and carry can tear a game apart.


I love watching him stream toward half forward, but I have to admit there have been times when he has decided to blast it 55 metres to not much, when the forwards are all leading toward him. Maybe it’s the heat of the moment, but if Higgins can lower those eyes just a couple more times per game, it could be the difference between winning and losing.


Still, with the ball in hand, Higgins remains a potent weapon. It will be interesting to see whether some other North mids can make the next step into the top bracket and alleviate the pressure on him in 2020. North has a few that should be primed to take the next step.





TODD GOLDSTEIN


One of the best and most consistent big men of the last ten years, Goldy is now often overlooked in the wake of the Grundy v Gawn All-Australian tussles, but on any given day he can be the most important player on the park.


Ignoring overtures from other clubs to re-sign with the Roos, Goldstein’s tap work is integral to the midfield grunt of Cunnington being effective. Cunners had 10+ clearances six times in 2019 – how many of those first possessions were the result of Goldstein playing his role perfectly?


Whilst nobody expects him to challenge the big two rucks for the title of best in the game at 31 years old, Goldstein’s value to North will come in the way he aids young mids such as Dumont and Simpkin first use, helping them grow into their roles and supporting them via his tap work.




THE NEXT LEVEL




JARED POLEC


I’m a big fan of giving someone twelve months in a new environment to acclimatise before judging them, but a fair few people aren’t of the same opinion. The knives came out for Jared Polec at times in 2019 as he didn’t quite hit the same highs he did at Port in 2018.


There were little things I noticed, with players handballing to him as he was running onto his non-preferred foot, which caused hack kicks forward… those things start getting ironed out as players spend more time together. I’m pretty confident in stating that, injuries aside, we should see Polec post career-high numbers in 2020.


If he does that, those blokes in the top bracket will have some company, and the North forwards will be licking their lips at the prospect of long, direct kicks inside 50 giving them every chance.





TRENT DUMONT


This is the guy, right here. Entering year six at Arden Street, Dumont has all the tools to move into the upper echelon of midfielders. He’s24 years old, has improved his numbers every season since debuting and is now poised to take that next step.


And North Melbourne need him to.


The Kangaroos are a genuine class midfielder away from having a great midfield. Their kids coming through are excellent, but Dumont has to be that bridge between the old guard of Cunning/Ziebell/Higgins and the new breed of LDU/Simpkin and Scott. I would go so far to say as to that Trent Dumont will be North Melbourne’s most important player in 2020.


He started 2019 like a house on fire… actually, no – a house on fire kind of just burns to the ground and doesn’t go anywhere. He started like a Corvette Stingray and ended up like a Jeep Compass (yep, Jeep Compass again… can you tell what I drive?). In the first 14 games, he had under 21 disposals just once. But in the last seven games of the season, he dipped below 20 on four occasions.


Maybe another pre-season will help remedy that apparent fade out from Dumont? The spot in the midfield is wide open for him to walk in and claim. A midfield mix of Cunnington/Higgins/Dumont and Jacobs could provide a real handful for opposition coaches to combat, but Dumont will need to play his part at the expected level. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Dumont needs to be strong in 2020.





JED ANDERSON


This is the bloke who adds the back up to Ben Cunnington in the guts. If Cunners can’t get to the clearance, it’s Anderson’s job to get to the player who does, and drag them to the deck.


He seems to have kicked the injury bug now, playing 38 games over the past two years, and at 25 should be ready to well and truly enter his prime. It will be of interest as to how Rhyce Shaw uses him in 2020. If Ben Jacobs can’t get up, an accountable role for Anderson beckons, but if Jacobs is able to work his way back, it frees Anderson right up to wreak havoc at stoppages all over the park.


At 5.5 tackles per game, Anderson is North’s best exponent at the art of dragging an opponent down. If he can elevate that number toward seven and become one of the best in the league, North could have found themselves a genuine two-way player (I’m thinking an Elliot Yeo-type… in player type, if not in ability. Settle down Eagles supporters).





JASPER PITTARD


The pick of the 2019 recruits, Pittard didn’t need too much time to adjust to life at Arden Street, and finished in the top ten in the Syd Barker Medal.


Pittard is not your regular kind of running defender. He reads the ball well but can be a little… hmmm, wayward at times. Is that fair? Not that he is alone in that regard – plenty of the elite runners in the game seem to get a little lost when they take off from half back. Just watch Adam Saad.


If Pittard can improve on what was already a very solid debut year for North, things are looking very rosy.




THE KIDS COMING THROUGH




LUKE DAVIES-UNIACKE


The progress has been slow and steady for LDU over his two years. Whilst it is unfair to expect more at this stage, there would be quite a few at Arden Street hoping he has his breakout year in 2020, an quite a few disappointed if he doesn’t.


He has shown flashes of his immense ability, holding the ball for an extra second or two to assess the positioning further up the ground demonstrated the poise that classy players possess, and you’d have to think that North would be eyeing him off as a potential replacement in the midfield for Shaun Higgins in the long run.


With almost 15 touches per game to his name in 2019, LDU should be looking for 19-20 disposals per contest next season – minimum.





JY SIMPKIN


Consistency. That’s all that’s required now from the 21 year old. He has proven he can get plenty of the ball, but needs to do it more often to take the pressure off the Cunnington/Higgins combination.


He had 25+ disposals on four occasions in 2019, but had 12 or less six times. The gap between his best and worst needs to close dramatically, because North are a team that needs consistency. Wild fluctuations in output not only hamper the gameplan, but leave coaches scrambling to compensate for a player’s inability to get involved.


With 56 games now under his belt, Simpkin should be ready to start firing more often. This will be the season he cracks 20 touches per game, and if he can exceed that by a couple of touches, we could see him emerge as a player to rival the young midfield stars getting all the press.





NICK LARKEY


19 games to his name, two bags of five goals in 2019 and 26 goals for the season… North have found their marking option at centre half forward.


Coming into 2019, there was much speculation as to who would stand up and take the heat off Ben Brown. Many though Mason Wood could provide that target, and though he had a decent year, it quickly became apparent that he was not going to be the long-term solution.


But Larkey could be.


His 1.4 contested grabs per game may not sound like a heap, but it was the way he took those clunks that should be opening the eyes of both supporters and potential opponents. Taking the body contact and still pulling down one-grab marks is something so many young players cannot do. Hell, it’s something experienced players can’t do, but Larkey is doing it often. At 21, he has a couple of years to fill out, but in terms of young forwards, you’d look at a bloke like Aaron Naughton, then maybe Mitch Lewis, Esava Ratugolea and Larkey making up ground behind him.


Have loved what I’ve seen of him thus far.





TARRYN THOMAS


It’s so hard to pick how a second year star will go. Thomas showed enough in flashes to indicate he had special talent, but to expect too much too soon is to set him up to fail.


He had a steady year, bobbing up in games to kick a couple here and there, but didn’t grab the game by the scruff of the neck… not that there’s anything wrong with that; in his first year you wouldn’t expect him to.


Thomas looks to have the support around him to continue to develop at a pace that benefits him and the club. The talent is undoubted, but it will be how long that talent takes to morph into consistent form that will be on the minds of North supporters.





BAILEY SCOTT


Scott jumped out of the blocks in Round One, picking up 21 touches and kicking a couple of goals. North fans must have been thinking they’d hit the jackpot with the then-18 year old, but after a foot fracture in July, Scott didn’t get back into the senior team, playing just four games for the season.


He will be like a new recruit this season, only with a second pre-season under his belt. I was almost tempted to throw him to the x-factor category due to the way he plays the game and the potential for him to be a break out star in 2020, but erred on the side of caution.


Look, Scott could jump out of the gates again in the new season, and if he does, it’ll be another reason as to why the Roos are a team to watch.




THE X-FACTORS




CAMERON ZURHAAR


This is the bloke I’ve wanted to write about. If you’re not familiar with the work of this young man, keep your eyes and ears open as we start the 2020 season; you will soon be painfully aware of who he is.


An old-school player with the skills and finishing ability of a modern player, Zurhaar emerged as a potent forward who is unafraid of putting his body on the line. After nine games over 2017-18, Zurhaar played 19 in 2019 and emerged as the missing link in the North forward half. He finished with 26 goals for the season, but it was his attack on the man and the footy that impressed most.


As a forward, he finished with 11 tackles in North’s win against the Tigers in Round 11 – one of the main reasons the Kangaroos’ pressure was able to match that of Richmond, and he backed it up with nine tackles against the Hawks in Round 20 – a win that ruined the Hawks’ finals campaign.


Whilst the AFL media went into raptures about the exploits of Connor Rozee in Port Adelaide, with his bag of five goals against the Lions making the footy world sit up and take notice, Zurhaar’s five goal haul against Carlton didn’t receive the same amount of attention. Nor did his bag of five against the Saints. Whilst Rozee finished the season with a career high of five goals on one occasion, Zurhaar did it twice!


Ladies and gentlemen, Cam Zurhaar had his breakout season in 2019. If he builds on this in any way in 2020, North have found not only the answer to their question of who will be the beguine second forward option to help Ben Brown, but they’ve found someone that will pose so many questions for opposition coaches that even when he has an ordinary day, he causes headaches.





MAJAK DAW


Now here’s an interesting one. There was a point where it looked like it was career-over for Majak. After things looked at their most bleak, and we all put footy aside in the hopes he would be okay, there has been a bit of a spark, and Daw may yet play senior footy again. But at what level?


He was really starting to come into his own in 2018 as a key defender. He was reading the play better, taking intercept grabs, and making thumping spoils. With his physical gifts always apparent, the footy smarts were starting to come to the fore as well.


Can he get back to where he was? Can he slot into that back six to aid Robbie Tarrant and company stifle long kicks inside 50? If Daw can make it back and play good footy, it will be like having a new, ready-made recruit in defensive 50 to compensate for the loss of Scott Thompson.


There’ll be many eyes on Majak as pre-season progresses.





BEN JACOBS


The last of the x-factors, Ben Jacobs sat out 2019 and watched his title as best tagger in the game bounce to Matt de Boer. We have short memories in footy, and on his day, no one is harder to beat than Jacobs.


His impact on this North Melbourne team over the past five years has been immense. He is all but guaranteed to shut down one of the best opposition midfielders, and wins plenty of the footy in the process.


There will be plenty of eyes on Jacobs as he starts his pre-season. If those concussion symptoms are a thing of the past, North are an infinitely better side immediately. Don’t believe me? Check the win/loss record with/without him in recent years. It’s eye-opening.





So I’ve talked up the Kangaroos a bit. After thinking they may drop a fair bit last season, I’m of the opinion we could be seeing the re-emergence of North Melbourne as a finals team in 2020. They’ll need a bit of luck (all teams do) but with the right players firing, and the injury gods smiling on them, 2020 may not be as bleak as Damian Barrett would have you think.


And how nice would it be to throw his doom and gloom scenarios back in his face

This bloke "gets" North Melbourne.
 

North1411

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Mar 12, 2018
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Perhaps I'm missing the point entirely, and this is my final query re: this article but can you explain what of the article is bullshit?

That we haven't done anything field of note for a while?
That we have significant financial costs under the soft cap for 2020?
Or that without improvement on field we are in danger of being pushed into a market we already have a foothold in?

All legitimate and fairly logical conclusions I would have thought. We don't need smoke being blown up the clubs arse because we sacked a shit coach, whose contract we extended not long ago. I'm all for the blowtorch being applied. We need wins.
We are not the first club to have costs from sacked staff to have to handle, and while it is not ideal, it is a 12 month cost, not an ongoing one. So it will affect us for one year at most. Hardly a reason to be forced into another market.

The first two I will give, but the third point is where he I disagree with him. The previous two points have nothing to do with the 3rd, and the soft cap issues is a 12 month issue at most, and considering the financial position of the club not one of big concern.

The tone of the article was one of gloom and doom, and that North have put them selves in the position where once again we will be at the mercy of the AFL. It rather conveniently forgets to mention that since we fought off relocation to the Gold Coast we have entrenched ourselves in Arden St precinct with not one, but two upgrades. These upgrades include a brand new administration and playing facilities, expanded the ground to be the same size as Marvel Stadium, resurfaced the oval, rebuilt the score boards, rebuilt coaches boxes and installed lights, making the facilities among the best in the AFL. While doing this a stand alone VFL team has been re-introduced, an AFLW team has been formed and from next year a stand alone VFLW team will be included, all while removing the debt that so nearly crippled the clubs.

When looking at facilities, business operations and debt levels we are light years ahead of MFC and SKFC, so no we are not a club that should be in danger of being pushed into another market because of a period of mediocrity (not terrible like Carlton or Melbourne) on field. This is especially so when the Adern St precinct is about to undergo a massive growth, and that the club has already demonstrated its importance to the local community through the award winning Huddle program (not such a waste now is it?) and has submitted plans to make its facilities the best inner city facility in the AFL, unlike * and Hawthorn (the family club who rips $20 million off families annually through pokies) who abandoned their traditional homes.

This article could have been framed as a club that has built it self up, one of the very few Melbourne clubs that is still connected to its heartland, that has accepted that on field it needs to do better, so made changes to its football department that by and large had been very stable for 10 years. That does not sound so bad does it? In fact it almost sounds responsible!

Instead it is an attack piece trying to re-frame the situation into one of trouble. Hence Damion Barret is now a persona non grata when it comes to North now. They have been trying for over 100 years to kill us. The club that shall not be named tried, Carlton tried to buy us out in the 90's, the AFL tried in the 2000's, but we are still here!

So what ever the fears we the members have final say over where we go, and if the board tries to shift us south, then we spill them and and put a board in place that recognise we are North Melbourne.
 

the flying ham

Club Legend
Dec 12, 2006
1,611
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All true.

If Barrett was truly "one of us", then he should use the influence he has to encourage such increasing memberships and attendances, rather than (metaphorically) screaming at people to run away and never come back.

I whinge about Barrett because he delights in being part of the take-down of NMFC. He wants to see us destroyed so he can revel in the fact that he played a part in it. This is the only explanation for the nature of his articles on the club over the past few years.
So in short, because he barracks for north he should write sonnets and avoid criticising the club, because that will influence potential members? As opposed to critiquing the club and what got it to this point? Here I am thinking winning games was key to memberships and attendance rather than puff pieces

On SM-G950F using BigFooty.com mobile app
 

RobZombie

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I think plenty know who wrote it...that doesn't mean he hasn't got a poor/incorrect take on the point of article though does it?
No, and given it was my reply to him that kicked off part of this discussion I think we’re in furious agreement on that.

I expect a lot of regulars do know who’s who, but it’s not my place to out people’s IRL identities. The way the conversation was headed I figured it might be useful context.
Damo = Uncle Tom...He's doing the AFL's bidding, which is fine...it's time we stepped up and started proving people wrong again.
Not quite sure where you’re headed with that take though. IMO Barrett’s agenda is entirely his own on this and nobody has to prove shit to him.
 

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