North Melbourne Football Club is an interesting beast, and for many years it had been assumed that the club just couldn’t afford to bottom out lest it financially collapse.
North Melbourne may be light years away from the likes of Geelong and Collingwood, however not only is a finals spot is well within reach, it is expected of them in 2012.
The Kangaroos have frustrated their fans since their last finals appearance in 2008 when they were well beaten by Sydney in the elimination final. In 2009 they finished thirteenth, they were ninth in 2010 and another ninth placing last year.
2012 is the year North must deliver. Sure, it won’t be a premiership or even a grand final, however come the end of the final round, North must be in the finals – must.
There were excuses last year including several injuries to key players but the time for excuses is now over.
In the 2011 season, Andrew Swallow received the most votes of any Kangaroos player on Brownlow Medal night and that was backed up when he tied on 46 votes with Daniel Wells in the clubs best and fairest count. Drew Petrie and Brent Harvey were next in the count, followed by the promising yet underrated Leigh Adams.
In front of the big sticks, Petrie kicked 48 goals with 41 behinds, Aaron Edwards was very solid with 36 and eight, Harvey slotted 31 and the inaccurate Lindsay Thomas contributed 21 and 36.
North finished the season with 10 wins and 12 losses, seven of which came in the first ten rounds. Coach Brad Scott introduced seven debutants to senior football and congratulated three players, Wells, Swallow and Todd Goldstein on receiving All-Australian nominations and Petrie on making the team.
I foresee the Roos winning a minimum of nine games, with five more up in the air. These are the matches against Essendon, the Western Bulldogs and Richmond – all teams they defeated last year.
North has a sound playing list including the 34-year old Harvey, Scott Thompson, Lachie Hansen, Scott McMahon, Swallow and Drew Petrie – one of my favourite players. Todd Goldstein was one of the most improved players last year and outshined Dean Cox and Shane Mumford at the stoppages. Jack Ziebell now needs to take his game to another level, while Wells remains under a health cloud.
Leigh Adams and Ryan Bastinac are set for breakout years. Aaron Edwards is a dead-eye-dick when kicking for goal and they may need a boost from him.
Two players to watch this year are Aaron Black and Kieran Harper. Black showed class in his only appearance in the Kangaroos team last season and was accurate in front of goal for North Ballarat in the VFL. Harper, another forward, is an exciting youngster. What North fans should like about him is his tackling ability.
Expect improvement and a seventh or eighth finish.
It looks like the Roos are headed back to the finals.