While North Melbourne’s young list is deeper than most people might think, there are still a few key players who’s form will play a major role in the team’s success. Reverend Shinboner takes a look at who North will rely on most to win matches this season. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Matt Campbell
The big difference on-field last week was Daniel Wells. He played off half-back most of the night, and consistently set-up attack for North with great decision making and defence splitting kicks. Exactly what had been missing most of the season to-date.
After watching him cut up Port, I can’t help but wonder if half-back is where Wells should be playing? Instead of moulding Wells in the shape of Chris Judd or Leon Davis, perhaps Andrew McLeod and the revitalised Aaron Davey are better role models? Wells has struggled under a heavy tag, but that’s a whole lot easier to shake at half-back. And he becomes the go-to man running out of defence, naturally bringing himself into the game and allowing his penetrating kicks to dictate play. I say keep him there.
Matty ‘Flash’ Campbell
The other missing ingredient from North has been polish, speed and accuracy in the forward line. Flash delivered it in spades. Lindsay Thomas looked heaps better with Flash worrying the defenders. Then he strained his hammy (the other one).
Had a great first match of the season. Seems capable of filling the role that Wells occasionally played in the midfield. Line-breaking runs and accurate, penetrating kicks: scarce in North ranks up until last Saturday. It made me wonder why selection was delayed 6 rounds. Apparently he’s got a bit of attitude around the club … ?
Asked about playing four ruckman in one team (Hale, Petrie, Goldstein, McIntosh) Laidley made an interesting comparison to St Kilda with Gardiner, King, Riewoldt and Koschitzke. No-one seems to question them, why do people question North’s selection? Fair point I reckon.
Playing career best footy. I can’t believe supporters were calling for his head after the off-field dramas in the pre-season. He was always going to be a great team contributor.
Deserved nominated for the Rising Star Award this week, but will miss out on the Geelong game with ‘leg soreness’. More likely he’s just getting rested up as the coach has eluded to a number of times. After a big workload in the first 7 rounds it’s probably a sensible decision.
Set to debut against Geelong, I’m surprised to see him get the call-up so quickly. The Dale Thomas lookalike (in both hair and playing style) from North-East Victoria was earmarked as a development player in the pre-season. While known as a game-breaker, Laids didn’t see him doing it for a season or two at AFL level, particularly with his slight frame. A couple of good matches in the VFL and now he’s thrown to the wolves: Geelong at Geelong. I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes.
Just like the team, I wouldn’t write him off just yet. He’s still extracting great performances from on an exciting young list. Deserves at least another year.
North Melbourne: 1.5 3.6 7.8 9.11 (65) lost to the
Western Bulldogs: 3.6 4.10 8.13 11.14 (80)
With the advent of Docklands, it seems like a rarity to watch wet weather football. But both sides had to reassess normal game plans today due to intermittent downpours at the ‘G, with slippery conditions creating problems for everyone involved.
The first half, where most of the rain fell, was riddled with errors – both teams fluffing a number of chances. But North seemed to take longer to adjust than the Dogs, playing a bit too cute at times resulting in some punishing turnovers. Brad Johnson’s polish was the difference at half time, kicking three of the Dogs’ 4 goals.
The second half continued with similarly lacklustre skills, penetration and finish; and soon the Dogs were 28 points up. But then something started to happen. North lifted. Campbell, Thomas and Wells – all inside North’s forward 50 – started creating. All of a sudden the gap was just 11 points at 3 quarter time with the crowd sensing momentum with North.
And the last quarter delivered the cracker football the fans smelt. All the run was with the Roos – Footscray’s kicking into the forward line was errant, and North’s rebound was exhilarating to watch. All of a sudden it was a 2 point ball game. The Dogs turned it over on the wing, North were on the counter-attack and Scotty McMahon – solid all day – dropped what he should have taken 45m out on a slight angle. And that was the ball game. The Dogs kicked the next two in quick succession and North’s run stopped.
Post Match Thoughts:
- ‘Hunter’ S. Thompson – A bit patchy in the first half, but did some great stuff thereafter. Kept Johno goalless after half-time and provided some run from the backline.
- Matty ‘Flash’ Campbell – Won’t feature on the stats sheet, but gee he was creative. Was often the marking option against 2-3 talls, but still managed to make something of it.
- Lindsay Thomas – See above. (Sorry, I know they are two very different people, but their contribution today was almost identical.)
- Hamish McIntosh – Backed up last week’s BOG with a strong around the ground performance.
- ‘Boomer’ Harvey – It’s not often he’s well down on his best two weeks running, but that’s what’s happened. I’m tipping some anger against the Hawks next week.
- ‘Spud’ Firrito – I love seeing him playing through the middle like he did today. Didn’t dominate, but he’s bloody handy when you need a pack broken open.
- Andrew Swallow – Again proved himself a must-have clearance player.
- Jack Ziebel – Did enough in the second half to want him back next week.
- Adam Simpson – Keeps doing what he does best.
- Todd Goldstein – his selection seems a little perplexing. While he wasn’t terrible, playing 4 big men always seemed a weird choice against the Dogs, and with the weather the way it was, almost ridiculous. Ben Ross seemed a more likely game breaker.
Laidley seemed happy with the showing. And in many respects, I was too. A shame not to grab the points in the end, but there was nothing in it. It was frustrating to wait for two and half quarters before seeing North take the game on, but frickin’ great to watch when they did. With such an inexperienced lineup (which the Junk Yard Dog keeps emphasising) it is understandable.
At the end of the day, North were able to sort out their structures and gameplan in time to win the match – fate just bounced the ball the wrong way a couple of times. Their fitness and decision-making was solid in a frentic final quarter and a half, and the new defence did well once settled. Given a few more matches and more consistent 4 quarter efforts, I’m thinking we’ll see North beat most teams this season.
One of North’s big improvers of 2008, Matty ‘Flash’ Campbell, continues to look the goods, this time for the Indigenous All-Stars in their win against Adelaide. Awarded the Polly Farmer Medal for best on ground, Campbell has come a long way since carving up the dirt in Alice Springs for the Pioneers.
The transition for Indigenous players from the bush to big city football can’t be easy. Campbell has Arrente (Alice Springs region) and Arabana (around Lake Eyre) heritage and spent a fair bit of his childhood living on his grandfather’s land outside Alice. English is still his first language, but there would be plenty of other cultural barriers to be confronted with in the big smoke – many of which us whitefellas don’t even think about. ‘Sorry business’ (death in the family/community) is the most obvious, but even the simple Aussie ritual of going to the pub can present issues.
But if the barriers for Matty Campbell are big, spare a thought for Melbourne’s newest recruit, Liam Jungarrayi Jurrah. Liam is an initiated Warlpiri man from Yuendumu, a traditional Aboriginal community 300km north-west of Alice. Liam had never seen a gym until he came to Melbourne. His journey is an amazing one already (Martin Flanagan tells it as well as anyone) but far from complete. It has the potential to go anywhere.
I’ve previously written about the contribution Indigenous players have made to footy. But it’s fair to say that footy’s contribution in return is immense. It is perhaps the only aspect of mainstream Australian culture which offers real hope for Indigenous Australians (given the exploitative nature of commercialising traditional Indigenous art).
Liam Jurrah is the AFL’s biggest test yet. I worry about what might happen if things don’t quite work out.
But then again, what are the possibilities if they do … ?