Social media in sport can be a wonderful thing. It allows fans to connect with the players and club they support so passionately in ways that were unimaginable just years ago.
It allows everyone to have an opinion and a voice, and one person using their online voice to back their club is former North Melbourne defender Troy Makepeace.
After 139 games for North in the early 2000s, Makepeace knows exactly what is needed to make it at the top level, having established himself as one of the great cult heroes of a generation.
He says the new game plan being implemented by senior coach David Noble may take some time to pay dividends, but the future is bright.
Best teams play on instinct and trust. Trust your mate to be there for a HB when u need him. Instinct to give the HB without thinking, knowing, you have options there. Early stages for Roos youngsters with new game plan to build that trust and instinct. It WILL happen. #havefaith— Troy Makepeace (@makoshark35) March 28, 2021
“We’ve got some pretty good youngsters coming through at the moment so that really does excite me,” Makepeace told North Media.
“From my point of view, it looks like they’re trying to build one particular area and they’ve focused on the midfield as the main foundation to build around.
“I know we’re struggling in the forward line but when you’re implementing a fast, attacking style like it looks like they’re doing, it’ll take a bit of getting used to and a bit of refining.”
Although Makepeace’s involvement with the club has waned since his playing days, he says he is trying to help bridge the gap between the club and its supporters by voicing his opinions in the public forum.
“Just because some people aren’t vocal on social media doesn’t mean they don’t care any less about the club, or have opinions that are any less valid,” he said.
“I sort of find myself trying to be that conduit between the club and the supporters, because they don’t get to see or appreciate what goes on behind closed doors, even though things have changed a lot from when I was there.
“We have to expect some negativity because we’re sitting at 0-6 at the moment … the players won’t be happy with losing, that’s for sure … but as hard as it is you have to be patient.”
With the cyclical nature of the AFL, it’s inevitable that teams will look to replicate those that not only win premierships, but define eras of the game.
North Melbourne was this benchmark in the late 1970s and 1990s, however it’s almost inarguable that Richmond is one of the defining teams of the last decade having won three of the last four Premierships.
Makepeace says you only have to look at how Richmond built its current midfield to see the strategy North is implementing with its list.
“Shane Edwards started in 2007, Trent Cotchin in 2008 and Dustin Martin in 2010. In the first four years those guys were in the midfield they didn’t make finals, the first three years of finals they bombed out, and now they’ve won three Premierships,” he said.
“That’s over a ten-year period, we can’t expect massive changes at North in just six weeks.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and that’s fine… [but] from what I read a lot of supporters are excited about the new game style, it just comes down to execution and decision making.”