As tough as they come, Michael Firrito was one of North Melbourne's best through the 2000s and 2010s as a pivotal part of the club's backline and sometimes as a tagger.

Ultra-competitive with the ability to play on both small and tall forwards, Firrito played 275 games through a period many Kangaroos fans remember fondly.

NMFC Media caught up with 'Spud' - as he was affectionately known - recently to flash back to some key moments in his career and how he was travelling back at the football club he grew up around, Gembrook Cockatoo.

Since chatting, Firrito has been appointed senior coach of Gembrook Cockatoo in the Outer East Football League, after returning there following his AFL retirement at the end of 2016.

Firrito on going back to Gembrook Cockatoo Football Club after North Melbourne

"I grew up there playing junior footy and everything, so it was good to go back to country footy. I went back there for one year to retire and four or five years later I was still playing.

"Obviously, I still love the game and was pretty fortunate with my body despite it still being a bit broken after a long AFL career."

On getting the No.11 guernsey from Glenn Archer

"He's one of the great blokes but also one of the great footballers of our club so to be bestowed that honour was pretty special.

"I wore it for a short time which was an honour to and then passed it onto Luke (McDonald) who has done some great things like becoming a leader of the club alongside Jy (Simpkin) so that's great.

"And seeing my son Lenny run around in it on Father-Son Days is even more special."

On his 2016 farewell

"I spent a bulk of time with those guys (Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Nick Dal Santo) so it was sad and there was a whole lot of other mixed feelings after losing that final.

"But it was pretty good to do my farewell with them. But you're competitive when you're in the thick of things like we were that day so that was at the forefront of my mind."

On his special moments

"The two preliminary finals later in my career (were special), but they obviously didn't end how we wanted them to.

"I think even in 2016 we won a stretch of games to go 9-0 before injuries had an impact, but probably my favourite was in 2007 when we made a prelim after a really tough 2006 season.

"It was just a special year under Dani Laidley – so the prelims probably standout even though all three of them were losing ones, but those journeys through the finals series were so enjoyable."

On his International Rules appearance

"It was awesome. I was never asked back so I don't think I was much good with the round ball, but it was a great experience.

"Mick Malthouse coached, and I got to play with 'Boomer' (Brent Harvey), Drew (Petrie), and Matt (Campbell) so that was really cool.

"And you get to meet some of the other boys at other clubs that you don’t really know but when you're in each other's pockets for two weeks you get to know them pretty well and I made some special mates over that journey."

On watching North Melbourne now

"We've got a good crop of young talent.

"It's good to see guys like Harry Sheezel coming through and all of those younger players – we've got a good batch of them so it's positive for us that they can all grow up together in the system."


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