October 05, 2010By australianrules.com.au
September 06, 2010By Les Everett
July 08, 2010By Les Everett
Can’t get used to losing you
July 08, 2010By Les Everett
Coming to grips with Michael Barlow's broken leg...
IT’S all pretty gloomy in greater Fremantle. That’s despite the team sitting in the top four and looking better than it ever has. And despite the team recording an easy 10-goal win in its last outing.
Michael Barlow’s broken leg has hit us hard.
At the ground on Saturday afternoon the crowd went quiet, not when Barlow went down but when he tried to get up and take his kick but couldn’t stand. And when he put his hands to his head in the way players do when they know an injury is bad.
After the game the players didn’t celebrate the way they usually do and the crowd made its slow way out of Subiaco Oval looking like they’d just witnessed a loss.
On the way home we visited Bunnings for something they didn’t have. A staff member asked: “What are they saying about Barlow? Is it his knee or a broken leg? I think a leg would be worse.” We told her we’d heard nothing certain on the radio. I thought a broken leg would be better than a buggered knee. Better. My mood slumped further.
It took just one look for Freo fans to warm to Michael Barlow. Right back in February when he showed us his funny running style, his honest no-nonsense approach and his ability to get the ball and use it to the team’s advantage – hallelujah. A family I know in Perth has developed a tradition of shouting ‘Barlow’ in unison whenever their favourite player gets the ball. Others interchange the words Barlow and Brownlow at will. Tradition. Favourite player. Brownlow. This is a rookie-listed player who was playing for Werribee in the VFL last year.
Recently the club finally allowed him to front the media. Then came Peter Hanlon’s great family story via The Sunday Age. Fremantle fans grew to love Michael Barlow even more.
Then came round 14.
We headed north on the Monday after the game. In the roadhouse at Eneabba the woman behind the counter nodded at the horrific photo on the back page of the The West and said: “It’s terrible isn’t it?” Outside I came across a stranger with purple, green and red stripes on his car. “Awful about Barlow,” I said. “He’ll be hard to replace,” said the stranger.
Time and footy seasons go on and Fremantle must find a way of replacing Barlow. There will be adjustments to the team and, as you can’t replace one with three, the situation will require an all-hands-to-the-wheel approach. Matthew Pavlich will spend even more time in the midfield; David Mundy, now suddenly an elite midfielder, will be required to do more, Paul Duffield can win clearances and will be used but the trump card may be another crowd favourite.
Hayden Ballantyne drives defenders mad. Many want to belt him because he’s annoying but what really gets to them is that he’s so hard to avoid – you can never feel comfortable when Ballantyne is around – he’s the best chaser in the AFL. Expect him to spend more time in the centre square and expect him to cause trouble.
We’re not writing Michael Barlow’s eulogy but it is worth noting the impact this unassuming person has had on Australia’s biggest sporting endeavour. He’s given cocky recruiting experts a kick up the bum and will make them broaden their vision and he’s helped turn the Dockers around. Just think what could happen if some of those World Cup clowns were shown footage of his reaction to a knock on the leg...he could change the world game too.
• Season over: Michael Barlow at Subiaco Oval. Photo by Will Russell. The Slattery Media Group