How to lose a game of football

Speaking at a function, the founder of Champion Data, Ted Hopkins, was asked if there is a statistical trend which shows how to win a game of football. The short answer was no. However, there is a statistic which shows the easiest way to lose a game of football … poor kicking across half-back.

Hopkins went further. He believes that modern football teams must field their elite kickers of the ball in the backline.

North Melbourne find themselves at 2-7 due in no small part to turnovers in the backline. Poor kicking is killing us. It raises the question, who should play in North’s defence?

Nathan Grima is one of North’s most composed players, with great decision-making and accurate kicking. The early form of ‘Car Keys’ Delaney looks solid. ‘Hunter’ S. Thompson has rediscovered his form as a rebounding defender, and ‘Spud’ Firrito’s penetrating kicks, combined with his consistent grunt work, make him invaluable.

That leaves Pratt, McMahon and Rawlings.

Brady Rawlings: I'm nervous just looking at this picture

While I rate Rawlings as a club man, leader and negator, his disposal consistently makes all North fans nervous. He has an uncanny ability to get into the right spot, but too often undoes his work with inaccurate kicking. Even when on target, his looping kicks always give the opposition time to close down the defensive rebound. He has been one of the club’s most loyal servants, but at nearly 31 years, is it time he made way for someone else?

Both Pratt and McMahon have relatively strong kicking skills, usually taking the kick-outs from the goal square. But each are inclined to unexplained brain-fades. Whether it be an undisciplined act or choosing the worst option, they seem to infuriate Roo supporters at least once a match. How long can Brad Scott remain patient?

Daniel Well’s stellar form this season has been played largely on the wing, drifting back into defensive 50. His evasive skills and penetrating kick have enabled North to break the defensive zone on numerous occasions.

North need more of it, and recruited Cam Richardson from North Ballarat for this reason. Unfortunately, he looked like a rabbit in the headlights during his four AFL games and was dropped. He has found form at the VFL since – is it time to bring him back into the fold? Is Gavin Urquhart’s career over, or is he the answer to North’s rebounding accuracy? Has Jamie Macmillan’s recent form justified a permanent position, or is he better suited in the midfield rotations?

With a fully fit list to choose from, here’s my preferred defensive unit:

FB:  Thompson    Delaney    McMahon

HB:   Firrito       Grima      Macmillan

Sorry Brady, but I reckon it’s time.



Filed under On Field

8 responses to “How to lose a game of football

  1. kon

    Good call Rev. Brady has been a great contributor but its time.

  2. Murph

    Brady has worked hard to increase his disposal efficiency, in particular kicking. He’s improved it amazingly, to a point where he’s quite a reliable kick now. Think you’re being a bit harsh.

    • I agree his disposal has improved, but it’s far from damaging. Opposition teams are happy to zone off Brady, giving him 25+ possessions per match, because they would prefer he kicked his 9 irons than Firrito or Grima spearing 40m stab-passes. So I just don’t think he has a role in defence.

      And with tagging dead, I can’t really see a role for him anywhere else unfortunately.

      • Murph

        There’s no doubt his disposal is not punishing as such, but you don’t necessarily have to have every player back there to be elite. I think he still has a role to play because he beats his direct opponent week in and out.

        Maybe we need to have a ‘specialist disposer’ back across half back which we look to feed at every opportunity like Melbourne have done with Aaron Davey?

        Anyway, love the blog mate.

  3. Kr

    kangas arent going anywhere anytime soon…

  4. Kr

    we need to merge… perhaps with port? similar colours..

  5. sad to see Urquart fade away, i thought he had a great footy head, great kicking, was a rising star nominee (from memory), and just seems to have disappeared. ANy idea what’s happened, does he not fit into the coach’s plans?

    I really like scotty mcmahon, yes there are the fades, but i’ll take that for someone who is always on (reckon he was one of the best against the pies)

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