Whether it be through lack of games, lack of news or lack of interaction, the off-season is one of the most frustrating and most difficult periods of the footballing calendar for so many passionate fans.

For players though, each off-season has the potential to end are impact their AFL dream. With the trade, free agency, draft and delisting periods all running back to back, there are players across countless teams who are told their time is over.

North Melbourne made that difficult decision yesterday regarding the futures of Charlie Ham, Tom Campbell, Trent Dumont and Shaun Atley, delisting the quartet.

With 234 games under his belt, Atley will go down in club history as one of North’s most consistent, reliable and professional players, missing just 11 games in 11 seasons.

North coach David Noble says the defender has been an enormous contributor across his career.

“Shaun’s been an enormous stalwart of our football club and a very well-loved player, and, particularly internally, highly valued and highly rated,” he told Sportsday.

“There were some ongoing discussions with Shaun in regards to where things were laying. We have to make some changes [and] continue to grow the list.

“There’s a level of unluckiness in some of those players, and there’s a number of them across the competition at every club, where they cycle out of contract at the wrong time.

“There’s a number of different elements in the overall decision, but Shaun and Trent (Dumont) have been fantastic players for our football club.”


As is the case every year, those outgoing players must be replaced, and the club has already gone some way to filling out its list with the acquisition of young ruck/forward Callum Coleman-Jones.

The addition of Coleman-Jones and the retention of Tristan Xerri sees Todd Goldstein provided with more than ample backup in his role, with the veteran ruck set to be a mentoring figure for the two young players.

“The aspect we like is whenever ‘Goldy’ went forward (this year), he kicked goals,” Noble said.

“His time forward for the number of shots on goal is probably behind ‘Larks’ (Nick Larkey) but in front of Cam (Zurhaar). He was probably our most effective forward.

“He’s awkward to match up on. There aren’t too many teams that have two defenders who are a couple of hundred centimetres, so it throws that element to the opposition.

“He’s quite mobile, he’s good below his knees, his defence isn’t too bad … and we know ‘CJ’ and Tristan can both play forward.”

With his first season as a senior coach under his belt, Noble is looking forward to a bright future at Arden Street.

While success is the ultimate goal, the continuity in the project he and his coaching staff is building must continue in order for the club to climb up the ladder.

“The group of coaches we’ve assembled is fantastic. We’ve got some great experience, we’ve got some youth, we’ve got some versatility with guys who’ve come from different clubs, so that’s been important,” Noble added.

“Having support within your coaching group is really important, the guys who keep you well rounded in the sense of who needs to have a conversation, are we on track, are we not on track, are we going too hard in meetings.

“As coaches we’re all in a hurry to gain success but we’ve got to do it methodically. We’ve got to do it the right way, and success will come.”