In an exclusive to Roo Beauty, North’s highly regarded CEO, Eugene Arocca, spent some time with Rev. Shinboner to discuss all things North Melbourne Football Club. Among other things, he provided some fascinating insights into the new world order that’s taking hold at Arden St this season.
Eugene Arocca is comfortable talking football. Despite his absolute passion for the administration role he’s in, he doesn’t baulk at questions on the team’s on-field performance.
In discussing the (under) performance of the leadership group, Arocca made the point that due to injury, the team has been in a state of flux, particularly given the number of kids that have come in. In the process, more accountability is being demanded of the playing group. Eug cites Laidley’s management of Daniel Harris as an example, pointing out that “Harris got 84 or 90 games in a row and sometimes his form was patchy, but the coach stuck by him. In the current environment you can’t afford to have too many bad games.”
So it should come as no surprise that Harris got dropped this week (again). But what was more marked was Aaron Edward’s omission. A solid contributor since his return in Rd 5, Edwards has worked hard to hang onto his spot, but loses it after one ordinary game. So while Edwards goes back to the VFL, Nathan Grima comes in for his third game and North names the most youthful centre lines I’ve seen in years: Ben Ross (20), Jack Ziebell (18) and, one of my new favourites, Sammy Wright (18).
Eug senses that the kids are looking at this season as a real opportunity to make their mark. “If you’re a young player at North Melbourne you can only be encouraged by what you’re seeing with the promotion of other young players.” Having blooded 5 debutants already (Ziebell, Wright, Grima, Ben Warren and Levi Greenwood), Eug seems pretty confident there will be more to come before the year is out. He cites Liam Anthony as a near certainly, but also suggests that Cruize Garlett, Robbie Tarrant and even Nathan O’Keefe could get a guernsey before the season ends. That would make nine debutants for the year, the highest since 2001. “It’s all about accountability and I reckon if the kids put their hands up, they’ll get a go.”
Sound like bottoming out? Almost, but not quite. I reckon they’re still going to have a crack. With Lachie Hansen due back any time now, and Boomer and Jesse Smith (touch wood) in the wings, the pressure on senior spots hasn’t been this intense in years. In the meantime, a new world order is evolving down at Arden St while no-one’s watching. And that’s exactly how Arocca likes it:
“We don’t get hung up on being seen by the media in a certain way, we just want to be seen by our supporters in a certain way… (We) just go about our business and we’re quite happy with that. Often people underestimate us at their own peril.”
Despite the naysayers, I reckon this season’s as fascinating as ever for North fans.