I have several of the North Melbourne v West Coast Eagles games from the 1990s tucked away on a hard drive. I am sure some of you have done the same with games you’ve always wanted to go back and watch.
I’ve plucked this one out at random to start with. There is no rhyme nor reason to it – it just is what it is. I sat back to enjoy this one without reading reports or stat sheets and, as I do for every game from the era before advanced stats, had a notebook beside me to take down some of the more important numbers that were not yet being captured.
For this game, I looked at intercept possessions, contested marks, clearances, Get out of Jail marks, and spoils- all of which were not counted in the early 90s.
The West Coast v North Melbourne games have always held a place in my heart. Firstly, you have the epic series between Wayne Carey and Glen Jakovich to occupy you. Then you have some of the best players to ever pull on a jumper for either side. Guy McKenna, Brett Heady, Peter Sumich, Chris Lewis, and Chris Mainwaring were just a few who made up the nucleus of the dominant Eagles teams of the first half of the 90s. On the other side, Glenn Archer, Mick Martyn, Anthony Stevens, David King, and John Longmire wore blue and white stripes.
On paper, it looked great – the two teams of the 90s going head to head. The Eagles were in the midst of their first golden era. North were about to embark on their own successful run. As always seems to be the case, there were wrinkles to this game I was not aware of until I sat down and genuinely concentrated.
So, if the mood takes you, the link to the game online is provided below, and the view of the game, using more of a modern take on things, is part of the Mongrel Time Machine Review.
Hope you enjoy.
North had no real answer for the versatile McIntosh who started forward and stayed there the entire game.
He cycled through a number of opponents as he used his speed and athleticism to see them all off. John Blakey, Glen Archer, John Longmire, and Mick Martyn… none of them had quite the right combination to keep him quiet.
When I remember McIntosh, I remember the young kid who seemed all arms and legs at the time, powering the Eagles from defence in the early 1990s, so getting to watch him ply his trade as a forward was a bit of a treat – he was damn good at it!
A monster performance from Carey in a losing side. An absolute class in bodywork and attack on the footy.
Do you know what the official record is for contested marks in a game? You will in a second – it’s ten, held by Wayne Carey.
Contested marks started to be recorded in 1999. Had they been recorded earlier, I reckon Carey’s name would be at the top multiple times. He took ten contested grabs in this game, with eight of them coming in direct opposition to Glen Jakovich. When you assess Carey, you simply have to factor in the quality of the opponent – he was spectacular in this one, collecting 21 touches and five goals in an outstanding display.
He just looked stronger and fitter than every other midfielder on the ground in this game. He would run hard, and when the pressure came, he would lean into his opponent and ease them off the line of the ball, either creating space for himself or a teammate.
With ten touches in the first quarter, he helped set the tone for the Eagles, and though he was quieter after the main break, 25 touches playing on the wing is a great return.
He might be my favourite Eagle to watch, ever. He possesses superb balance, great vision, and complete and utter composure whenever he finds the footy.
Glenn Archer started forward in this game and Guy McKenna had the job on him. The result saw McKenna able to run off Archer and slam through a first half goal, which kind of set the cat amongst the pigeons for North. With McKenna playing his usual composed half-back role, North were forced to start making switches, and the Eagles ate up players being played out of position.
McKenna finished with 21 touches, including six intercepts as he seemed to read the ball better than most, sagging off to chop the footy off at crucial moments.
He is often forgotten when you talk about excellent mids, but he could sure as hell find the footy at a stoppage. He finished with eight clearances to lead all players and was handy all over the park as he amassed 23 touches.
Unlike quite a few others, Pyke was considered with his ball use, often taking an extra second or so to surmise the situation ahead of him. This was in stark contrast to several North Melbourne mids who threw the footy on the boot without looking and played right into the Eagles’ hands.
THE KEY MATCHUPS
BRETT HEADY V DEAN LAIDLEY
Laidley switched off Heady after halftime, and it was probably a good thing he did. Heady was just too classy for him and used his footy IQ to either get Laidley to overcommit to a contest, or get to the right position and take the footy with those clean hands he was renowned for. Laidley was quick. Heady was quicker.
Though he finished with just one goal, Heady looked dangerous whenever he went near it, and with 17 disposals to his name, he was near it quite a bit. Laidley was moved onto the wing after halftime, thus ending their one-on-one clash, but the points went to Heady, who seemed to relish the attention and actually faded after the main break.
WAYNE CAREY V GLEN JAKOVICH
This was the one people paid money to see, and it was a big win for Carey – a huge win in the context of the game and their rivalry.
That said, there was a quarter and a half after the halftime break when Jakovich really got on top of The King. Four of Carey’s five goals came in the first half, with three in the first quarter. Jakovich looked sluggish and the commentators speculated that he was carrying an injury – it would not surprise me if that was the case. The way Carey was able to beat him in body-to-body contests was very Un-Jako-Like and may have been one of the instances that gve Carey the impression he could continually beat the defender in physical marking contests.
I thought Jakovich fought back hard after halftime, taking front position on several occasions and winning his share of contests to finish with four intercepts and seven spoils, but you cannot argue with ten contested grabs and five goals from Carey. There is a reason he is so highly regarded as a player, and If you decide to give this a watch, you’ll see why. His attack on the footy and the contest is phenomenally good and he walked where angels fear to tread on several occasions.
One blight on their contest was a terribly soft free Carey received in the first quarter – I still cannot work out, under the rules of the time (arm chops were permitted) what the free kick was for. That said, I will take the confusion over hearing the umpires’ voices consistently in my ear as I do with the modern game.
CHRIS MAINWARING V ANTHONY STEVENS
Credit where it’s due – Stevens was actually able to curtail Mainwaring after the main break, but he didn’t do a hell of a lot of damage with his own 14 touches.
Mainwaring was in a tie with Carey as the most influential player on the ground after the first quarter, with his blistering run and power in the contest too much for Stevens to contain. He was a beautiful footballer to watch, Mainwaring – just about had the complete package at this stage of his career.
Stevens was still a couple of years away from reaching his potential, and that is evident when you see the way Mainwaring was able to power away from him with repeat efforts.
MOVES THAT MATTERED
I’ll tell you what – Denis Pagan didn’t mind throwing the magnets around.
MCINTOSH STARTING FORWARD
He commenced the game at half forward, with John Blakey for company, and as described above, put him to the sword early in the piece. His pace and aerial ability was a combination that Blakey looked incapable of matching.
By the second quarter, and with three goals to his name, the play of McIntosh forced Denis Pagan to make a move and this, in itself, caused issues for the Kangaroos.
As they swapped and changed their defensive line up, North had Craig Sholl trying unsuccessfully to get to McIntosh. Laidley somehow found himself on a wing, which meant that Heady was a man without a direct matchup for a little while, and there was a genuine feeling of disarray amongst the North defenders.
To their credit, they settled, but you cannot feel that the damage was done amid the confusion amongst players. That was due to the spanner in the works known as Ashley McIntosh.
GLENN ARCHER STARTING FORWARD
My guess is that Denis Pagan would have liked Archer to have a similar impact to McIntosh at the other end, but it wasn’t to be. Not that he was poor, at all – far from it; he just didn’t have the same impact that McIntosh did.
He was quickly thrown into defence in the third quarter to attempt to keep McIntosh quiet, but Pagan again switched magnets, throwing Archer forward (which did result in a goal) and John Longmire into defence. Not sure about you guys, but it really seemed to me that it gave the North defence a disjointed feel with players switching in and out of roles
DID ANYONE LET THEIR TEAM DOWN?
He had a shocker in the first half. Could not get his matchup right, and as a result was soundly beaten by everyone opposed to him.
Could not get near it in the first half, and had a hard time getting away from Drew Banfield, who wore him like a glove.
Schwass finished with 13 touches, but seven of them came in the last quarter when the game was dead and buried. He may have had one or two touches in the first half, which goes to show just how well he was beaten.
When the Eagles were up and running, it was Stevens’ man doing a lot of the damage, with Chris Mainwaring having ten first quarter touches. Stevens was an invisible man until the second quarter, but with Mainwaring notching 16 touches to halftime, the lack of accountability from Stevens on his wing was a real concern.
HOW DID THE UMPS SEE IT?
I looked this up after I finished reviewing the game, just to make sure there wasn’t something I completely missed.
Turns out I didn’t (this time).
McIntosh got the three Brownlow votes, with Carey claiming the two in the losing side, and Mainwaring grabbing the one.
Good calls, overall.
ANY GENUINE HIGHLIGHTS PEOPLE SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR?
A huge mid-air collision between Carey and John Worsfold in the third quarter as Carey ran with the flight. Knowing Woosha, I would not have been surprised to see Carey stretchered off if he was feeling a little belligerent, but credit to both blokes – they kept their eye on the footy and both hit the deck.
Chris Lewis didn’t have to do a heap in this game, but his skills with the footy… he looks like a musician who just plays things by ear. There is obviously a lot of effort in doing what he does in this game, yet, he managed to make it look effortless.
Michael Brennan is someone I had not thought about in ages, but he was a very solid defender for the Eagles. He finished with six intercepts and six spoils as he played as the deepest defender most of the game.
Chris Waterman led all players with nine intercepts, happily picking off some really poor forward 50 entries from North.
Adrian McAdam… he threatened and threatened in this game after starting on the bench, but when he had the chance to kick to a one-out Carey v Jakovich contest in the last quarter, he instead tried a left foot torpedo from 60 metres and it went out of bounds. He could have been anything, this bloke, but you can see why he became a source of frustration for Pagan – and I am sure that feeling was reciprocated from McAdam. I wonder how he would have fared had he started at another side?
Peter Sumich was looking pretty potent before pinging a hamstring. He was a deceptively strong mark and could have finished with four or five contested grabs.
Some interesting faces out there – Alastair Clarkson was busy with four of his five clearances in the first half, but faded the longer the game progressed. David King was looking pretty trim and showed plenty of dash. I reckon he looks like an adult orc these days.
The umps really didn’t pay deliberate that often at all. Chris Mainwaring was pinged for tapping one out of bounds, but Mick Martyn was given the benefit of the doubt for handballing it straight over the line at one stage. Mick sure knew how t make things look difficult.
INTERCEPTS – Chris Waterman (9), Dwayne Lamb (7), Guy McKenna (6)
CLEARANCES – Don Pyke (8), Mark Roberts (6), Alastair Clarkson (5), Dean Kemp (5)
GET OUT OF JAIL MARKS – Wayne Carey (7 – most recorded thus far)
CONTESTED MARKS – Wayne Carey (10), Peter Sumich (3), John Longmire (3)
SPOILS – Glen Jakovich (7), Michael Brennan (6), Ryan Tunbull (5)
And West Coast fans, you won the game, but I am sure you’re looking for a game where Jakovich gets the better of Carey in their duel, right? I’ll see what I can do, but sometimes you just have to marvel at the brilliance of a player, and in this case, Carey gave Glen a bit of a touch up.
If you have a game you’d like to see get The Mongrel treatment, you know where to find me.