A rejuvenated Michael Barlow has spoken candidly of his hurt at the way his Fremantle career finished, saying it “rips your heart out a bit” to be told he was no longer required by the Dockers after seven seasons.
The 29-year-old midfielder, picked up by Gold Coast as a delisted free agent last October, has been a pre-season star for the Suns, averaging more than 26 disposals a game, and will be a key to a recast midfield this season.
Barlow has a point to prove to his old club after being delisted by the Dockers at the end of last season, despite finishing eighth in the best and fairest after a serious shoulder injury restricted him to only 13 games.
“I’m really disappointed with the way it ended,” Barlow said. “That there wasn’t a little bit of a tree branch extended to say, ‘We might want to keep you on.’
“It’s looking a guy you really respect [Fremantle coach Ross Lyon] in the eye, and they say you’re no longer required. It’s a bit of a check to the ego when you get delisted.”
Barlow was dropped to the WAFL for two games early last season, but produced some of his best football after being recalled in run-with roles on the likes of David Zaharakis, Daniel Rich and Steele Sidebottom, also picking up 43 possessions in Fremantle’s win over Port Adelaide.
But Barlow had the AC joint in his left shoulder shattered in a collision with Geelong’s Lincoln McCarthy in round 17, and missed the rest of the season. It was then he was told that, with the Dockers going younger, he would be one of the first casualties.
After a nervous wait during the trade period, during which he rang Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade and asked to be given an opportunity, the Suns picked him up as a delisted free agent.
Barlow is still puzzled by the abrupt change of heart from his old club. “It was a really tough couple of weeks that trade period, essentially because I had this injury with some potential to go the other way and not allow me to keep going,” he said. “There was the timing of that, then a bit of bitterness that I was 28 and essentially kicked out the door for being too old. And it rips your heart out a bit, because you know what you have to offer.
“I had probably one of the best patches of my career for six or seven weeks, and a pretty significant injury which stopped it. That might have played a part, but at the end of the day you can’t dwell too much on what’s happened.
“They [Fremantle] have got a four-year plan, and Ross has got a little bit of security in his contract …
“[Moving] was the best thing that could have happened for me. I was really keen to move on regardless. But it’s made me a better person being at that club for a long time.”
Barlow believed he was playing football with more freedom at his new home.
“I think there’s a little bit more flexibility in the game plan here,” he said. “I just feel like the attacking side of the game here is really encouraged, and I reckon ‘Rocket’ has got that 100 per cent right, when you look at the list and see who we’ve got at our disposal, we’ve got some of the best athletes and natural players in the competition, so you want to harness that.”
The midfield veteran said the idea of being part of a club looking to make a name for itself from the ground up was exciting.
“We want to really rip the roof off this joint here, and I reckon we have the potential to in a short time. It will work here, and I want to be part of it,” he said. “If I can assist that push for this club to become a powerhouse, that would be pretty fulfilling.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.