The 2010 to 2019 were not the best decade for North Melbourne for us supporters. The highlight years were 2014 and 2015 when the club made the preliminary finals. It was also a decade of change with Brent Harvey, Michael Firrito, Drew Petrie and Nick Dal Santo retiring from the club. It felt like an end of an era in many respects with new leaders. My top 10 players on this list represent what the true meaning of Shinboner spirit means with skill, love and passion for their teammates and for all of their supporters.
10. Lindsay Thomas
Lindsay Thomas wore his love for North on his sleeve. He was the Club’s leading goal kicker in 2010 and 2013 with 29 and 53 goals respectively. In the decade Lindsay kicked over 250 goals for the Club and his pressure and tackling was priceless in the forward line. Thomas had to overcome adversary when he developed the yips and sent back to the VFL, to gain back his confidence. To his credit he stuck with it and regained his place in the side. He was the lone ranger in the forward line at times over the years, helping North across the line in many crucial games. His contribution was not unnoticed. His passion for the Kangaroos throughout his time at the club was appreciated greatly by North Melbourne fans.
9. Robbie Tarrant
Robbie Tarrant was plagued with injuries from 2010 to 2014, playing only 39 games during that time. Since 2015 to 2019 he has hardly missed a game and is one of the most reliable defenders in the AFL. Great mark, excellent kick, plenty of pace, he is the whole package.
Robbie came to North as a forward however in order to fit in our side he had to change his role to defender. He is like a fortress in North Melbourne’s defence. He has been named in the 40-man All Australian squad on numerous occasions, however Rance has a lock on that position in the All-Australian team. Who knows this might be his year. Tarrant won the 2016 Syd Barker Medal and since 2015 has always finished high in the voting.
8. Drew Petrie
Drew Petrie could be described as North Melbourne’s heart and soul, he gave his all every time he ran out on the field wearing the blue and white. Drew’s marking and ruck work carried the Club to many wins. His defensive pressure in the forward 50 was incredible for such a big forward. Defenders thought they could outrun Petrie but the long arm would stretch out and “ball” would be the call. He was North Melbourne’s Leading Goal Kicker four times over the decade and All Australian in 2011.
7. Scott Thompson
Scott Thompson was an amazing player for the club over this decade, with his “never say die attitude”, he was a leader, and the Kangaroos General down back. An incredible reader of the ball he would take 461 intercept marks, collect 1604 intercept possessions and claim the Syd Barker Medal as North Melbourne’s Best & Fairest n 2013.
Able to play small or tall he was equally comfortable defending Buddy Franklin as he was marking Eddie Betts. With his reading of the play and anticipation he would invariably end up on top leaving big shoes for his replacement to fill.
6. Todd Goldstein
One of the best ruckmen of the decade, statistically Todd Goldstein was ranked first for hit outs and hits outs across the 2010’s. Rarely beaten, his standout season was 2015 when he won the Syd Barker Medal and was selected in the All-Australian team. With great stamina, he is still running as strongly in this last quarter as he does in the first. Extremely agile for a big man, great below his knees and can dish out quick handballs to the running players, he is also adept as following up his own rucking with groundwork.
5. Ben Brown
Rarely beaten in the air, Ben Brown is North Melbourne’s best forward since the great Wayne Carey. North’s leading goal kicker from 2016 – 2019, he has finished second in the Coleman Medal in 2018 and 2019. A real sharp shooter when going for goal. his accuracy is second to none. The crowd do have fun watching Brownie walk from Woop Woop to kick for goal. Bags of 63, 61 and 64 goals for the last three years show Brown’s class.
4. Andrew Swallow
After a good start to his AFL career in 2006 and 2007, form and injuries kept Andrew Swallow out of the AFL team for most of 2008. In 2009 he got his chance in the AFL team again and become an integral member of the side. He won the Syd Barker Medal in 2009, 2011 and 2012. His leadership had him being appointed Captain of the side. A role he held from 2012 – 2016. Swallow was rarely beaten for the ball. On the rare occasion where he was beaten he would bring his opponent down with his incredible tackling skills. AFL statistics have Swallow in the top ten players for tackles and clearances from 2010. Goldstein and he were an incredible force to be reckoned with.
3. Ben Cunnington
Ben Cunnington has made a name for himself for his clearances and contested work all over the ground. Last year he led North for contested possessions having averaged 15.6 per game and clearances averaging 7.3 He ranked fifth in the league for contested possessions. Every time he has the ball and breaks free from a tackle with his amazing strength, I know he will be able to find a man out wide with his incredible handball skills, I have never seen someone handball as well as Ben Cunnington. Winner of two Best & Fairests there is likely to be a few more before he is done.
2. Shaun Higgins
Shaun Higgins has been a great pickup for North. A very good player for the Western Bulldogs from 2006 – 2014, his game has gone to another level for North Melbourne. The Kangaroos forwards love seeing the ball in his hands as they know the ball will be delivered lace up. His decision-making and ball use has made him one of the best players in the competition reflected in Best & Fairests in 2017-18 and All Australian in 2018.
1. Brent Harvey
Brent Harvey is an absolute legend of the game; who played not in one decade but two to become the AFL record holder for the most games played. This is a player, who, in my opinion, was forced out of the game one year too early. Every time he went near the ball the crowd would rise to their feet in anticipation of something special, with the call of “Boomer”. Harvey’s pace, skill and ability to kick a “miracle” goal was unsurpassed. He won the Syd Barker Medal in 2010 and finished in the top five every year since then. Harvey is a player who brings supporters to the game. Five minutes of brilliance and the momentum of the game was changed.