Werribee wins AFL star

By Ewen McRae

Werribee Football Club has pulled off a recruiting coup – enticing favourite son and former AFL player Michael Barlow back to the club for the 2019 VFL season.

The former Fremantle and Gold Coast midfielder will return as a playing assistant coach under new coach Mark Williams.

Barlow’s 38 games for Werribee culminated in a stellar 2009 season in which he finished second in the J.J. Liston Trophy and won both the Fothergill-Round Medal as the VFL’s most promising young player and the Bruce Montgomery Trophy as Werribee’s best and fairest.

That led to Fremantle drafting him in the 2010 rookie draft and playing 126 games in six years with the Dockers before playing a further 15 in his two years at the Gold Coast.

Barlow said he was excited to commit to Werribee early in the off season.

“I’ve always had a really strong affiliation with the place through the opportunities it first gave me,” the 30-year-old said. “It all feels pretty familiar, though there’s obviously a really new exciting facility.

“The ability to continue to play and get that fix while upskilling myself under Mark Williams in an assistant coaching capacity and working with some really driven players appealed to me pretty strongly.”

His AFL career highlights include being named the AFL Players’ Association’s best first-year player in 2010 and winning the Ross Glendinning Medal as best afield in the Western Derby in 2010 and 2013. He was one of Fremantle’s best in its narrow 2013 grand final loss to Hawthorn. Barlow showed great tenacity throughout his time in the AFL, bouncing back from a serious leg break in his first year at the Dockers and another in his first year at the Suns.

Werribee football operations manager Stuart Balloch said Barlow was a massive signing for the club.

“To say the club is thrilled would be an understatement – it’s a great coup,” Balloch

“We have followed Mick’s journey since getting drafted, and to see him come back and continue to develop in our program as a coach is testament to the direction that our program is headed and also demonstrates his passion for our club.

“He is a hugely respected and popular person within the industry, so I have no doubt he will be welcomed by all and that he still has much to offer on the field, given his 2018 AFL and NEAFL form.”