2020 In A Nutshell
Last year was disastrous for the whole world with ramifications and fall out to be felt for years to come. In the AFL North Melbourne started pretty well winning their first two games. The feeling of accomplishment was short lived however, the Club winning only one more game for the season. The worst season since the 70’s.
North Melbourne Football Club finished the year in turmoil and seemed somewhat fractured, prompting a rebuild. The lockdown took its toll on the coach who resigned citing personal issues after one year. Some of the club’s favourite players were let go and supporters were left stunned as the Club seemed to lose its heart and soul. Hopefully bringing in some new blood with great potential, like Jayden Stephenson and Will Phillips (with the number three pick) will help the Club rise again.
The fixture for North looks reasonable, starting the season playing three out of the first four games at Marvel Stadium. This should give North Supporters a good close look at the fresh potential ‘stars’. We don’t play in Sydney; we do however play Hawthorn at the University of Tasmania Stadium and play both Fremantle and West Coast in Perth .
Even with this fixture there will be no easy games this season during the North Melbourne rebuild. There will be opportunities though to watch for signs of future success.
Five Fearless Predictions
1. Cunnington back to his best
After sitting out most of the 2020 season with injury, there is one player ready and raring to go. Our bull Ben Cunnington. He will be leading a young and inexperienced midfield and I am looking forward to seeing him rack up 30+ possessions in at least five games in 2021.
2. Nick Larkey to Step Up
With Ben Brown no longer the main man in the forward 50, that challenge has now gone to his deputy Nick Larkey. I am sure he is more than up for the job. Larkey will be the main target up forward and could also be a surprise Coleman contender. I expect him to kick at least 40 goals.
3. Jayden Stephenson to earn All-Australian Selection
Along with Ben Cunnington, Jayden Stephenson will also come out firing. After a shock trade at the end on the season, he has fire in his eyes and I expect that to translate into All Australian selection. Collingwood will rue the day they traded him, and North will reap the benefits.
4. Next Rising Star
North has brought in some exciting recruits that are oozing with talent such as Will Phillips, Tom Powell, Charlie Lazzaro and Phoenix Spicer. Based on this crop of young blood we may have the next Rising Star on our hands, perhaps Jayden Stephenson can give them some advice. I expect two, if not all four to be nominated at some stage in 2021.
5. Jy Simpkin to win best and fairest
One positive that came out of last year was Jy Simpkin taking his AFL career to the next Level. He will continue his great form and win the North Melbourne best and fairest. With Ben Cunnington back, Jy won’t be taking the tagger on every week and will be left with more freedom to run and carry the ball with class.
Where will they finish?
This being a rebuild year I don’t expect much from North in 2021. I am looking forward to seeing these young blokes in action, I would imagine a lot of errors and learning experiences as they find their way at this level. It will result in North finishing either 16 or 17 this season. Although new coaches; new players; its a new team and anything is possible.