For much of their first five decades in the VFL, North Melbourne didn't do much. That all famously changed in the early 1970s with the introduction of 10 year rule and the appointment of Ron Barassi. While their identity has been malleable, The Kangaroos can comfortably lay claim to being in the top bracket of Victorian clubs since 1970 – with four flags to their name, and a bevy of finals appearances as well. For all their September glory, they've had some terrific days between March and August too. Here are the Roos' top five home and away wins.
1. Kangaroos v Richmond ( Round 11 2003, Telstra Dome)
In essence this was a win more for humanity than a football team, showcasing the power of one man to recover from life-threatening injuries and haul himself back to the football field for one final night of courage. Jason McCartney was brandishing the numbers "88" and "202" on his jumper against the Tigers, symbolising the amount of Australians, and people overall, who were killed in the Bali bombings. Even if Dean Laidley's side had been beaten badly it would have been a good news night for the Roos. But that they toppled the Tigers in a prime time thriller, with McCartney kicking a final term goal before playing a central role in Leigh Harding's clincher, was something else altogether. McCartney promptly announced his retirement on the ground after the game. Football may never have had a more uplifting night.
Jason McCartney is chaired off after his team's victory over Richmond. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
2. Carlton v North Melbourne (Round 10 1976, Princes Park)
Winning at the Blues' fortress has rarely been easy, not least when Carlton are second on the ladder, as they were entering this game. The hosts had led at every change, but Barassi's team hung in the game with Malcolm Blight a central figure. Marking just before the siren with his side five points down, a fifth goal for the day seemed a stretch too far for the South Australian. But Blight's ensuing torpedo remains arguably the most famous kick in home and away history. Mike Williamson's call for Channel Seven told the tale, even if he exaggerated the distance of the kick. "Now Blight would have to kick this, oh, he'd have to kick it 85-90 metres. But he's going to have a kick all right. It's not over yet; what drama here at Princes Park!"
Malcolm Blight is chaired off after his winning kick. Image: Channel Seven
3. Port Adelaide v Kangaroos (Round 1 2002, Football Park)
There can have been only a handful of crises in VFL/AFL history that have affected a club to the extent that the Wayne Carey saga rocked Arden Street in March 2002. Forced to recover from the scandalous loss of their dual premiership captain, not to mention arguably the greatest player of all time, Denis Pagan's team travelled to the City of Churches to face a Power side that had just won the pre-season cup, and were among the flag fancies. Defying their status as heavy underdogs, the Roos took an early lead and staved off the hosts' challenge to win by 11 points. Shannon Grant (20 disposals and three goals) took the three Brownlow votes, ensuring it was a sweet night for newly installed captain Anthony Stevens, and Glenn Archer, who was playing his 200th game
The Roos did it for Anthony Stevens in Adelaide Pic: Angela Wylie
4. Sydney v Kangaroos (Round 19 2004, SCG)
If there was one man for whom the Roos would routinely lift, it was Archer. On this Saturday night in Sydney they faced a 40-point three quarter time deficit against the Swans, in a match crucial to both sides' finals chances. Never mind. Up stepped Daniel Harris (21 disposals and 11 clearances), providing service for Sav Rocca (five goals), Corey McKernan (three goals) and Corey Jones (three goals). Jones' third – bent back from the pocket after a final minute free kick – capped the comeback. Gloss was taken off the triumph when it emerged that Swans trainer Wally Jackson had suffered a heart attack in the last quarter, and had not survived.
Glenn Archer is chaired off after his 250th game Pic: Anthony Johnson
5. North Melbourne v Essendon (Round 9 1976, Arden Street)
Having used both of their reserves (yes there was was a time before interchange!), North lost defender Ross Henshaw to a broken collarbone in the third quarter. Entering the final term trailing by five points, with just 17 fit men and kicking into the breeze, the odds were stacked against the Roos, yet they found a way to topple the Dons by four points. Rob Smith kicked four of the Roos' eight goals, while Barry Cable had 26 disposals and snagged a major.