North peeps have been excited about the forthcoming 2009 season more than usual. But on Friday night North got flogged. Not in a glamorous way; in a slow, directionless and pathetic way. In contrast, Carlton looked young, exciting and purposeful. There were some particularly concerning signs for North:
- Full back – Josh Gibson played at full back most of the night; Fev dominated. Where was the much-hyped new look backline with either Nather Grima (not playing) or ‘Hunter’ S. Thompson (beaten on the half back line) at full back?
- Ruck – McIntosh and Goldstein have been earmarked as a potentially dominate rucking combination. Hitouts to advantage seemed to go Carlton’s way, and around the ground the influence of H and Goldy was negligent.
- The need for speed – Wellsy’s pace was sparkling. He was alone.
- Handball, handball, handball – Too many shit handballs. No apparent structure out of the middle or going forward.
But in truth, it all could be a good sign. Early in Laidley’s reign North always showed up to play in the pre-season cup needing whatever membership boost they could get. In the lead-up to Friday’s match, Laidley made it clear that North’s pre-season training came before winning a glorified practice match. As well as the obvious physical effects this would have on the players, there’d be a significant psychological impact and it showed. But there are two far more important deductions that can be made from this: (1) the footy department have high expectations for 2009, and (2) the administration are backing them to the hilt. Perhaps the administration have finally realised that if NMFC need to win pre-season matches to attract members than they’ve already lost the battle?
Despite my disappointment on Friday night, I take the optimistic view.