Trevor Barker inducted into Hall of Fame
One of St Kilda’s favourite sons has been elevated to the AFL Hall of Fame.
Trevor Barker, the high-flying, blond-haired No. 1 became the 16th St Kilda player inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight, rightly recognised in the pantheon of AFL greats.
No Saints player has been closer to the hearts of fans than Barker.
The kid from Cheltenham instantly attracted attention, not only for the soaring leaps that hauled in great marks, but also for his work ethic, flawless tackling and courage to always put his body on the line.
In struggling St Kilda teams, Barker often conceded inches and poundage to opponents because despite being best suited as a half-back defender, he was often forced to play key position.
Barker captured the imagination of the Saints faithful with his spectacular marking and fierce loyalty.
He had only played one year of senior footy in the Federal League with Cheltenham before coming to the Saints in 1975. After just a single game in the reserves, he won a senior spot.
Playing as a half-forward flanker, Barker was one of the best VFL debutants in 1975 and won the St Kilda award for Best First Year Player. Then, in just his second year, he was surprisingly switched to full-back by coach Allan Jeans and instantly succeeded.
Responsibility was quickly heaped on his shoulders.
“I always thought it was a good move (going to full-back). Probably because I could jump, it never worried me,” said Barker at the culmination of his career.
“I would go into team meetings and would be told that I was going to be on the opposition’s best player”
A breakout 1976 season saw him win the club best and fairest award at the age of just 20. A season later he earned the first of his seven Victorian guernseys, wearing the big V with enormous pride.
He won his second best and fairest award in 1981, playing as a half-back flanker which was the role best suited to his build.
Barker was renowned for his club first approach, famously donating a new car back to the cash-strapped club that had been promised for winning the best and fairest.
As the Saints slipped down the ladder in the 1980s, the club was forced into using him in key position where he received a constant buffeting. That took its toll on his body and a broken leg in 1985, shoulder injuries, a spur in his heel and even a reaction to a spider bite took great chunks out of his career.
Other clubs chased him and Melbourne made a huge offer as they sat before him in the MCG boardroom. But Barker didn’t sign. He never intended to leave Moorabbin.
Trevor Barker was the face of the club in the 1980s, and in many respects kept St Kilda afloat. He kept the Saints prominent in the public eye despite their perennial low place on the ladder. From 1980, he was the club’s promotions officer and his aptitude for teaching and imparting knowledge engendered a love of the game in countless young footballers at school and club level.
As part of the club’s Junior Development Department he was a key member of Ian Drake’s ground-breaking group.
After his playing days ended, Barker made a stunningly successful transition to coaching and guided Sandringham to two VFA flags in 1992 and 1994. He returned to the Saints as an assistant coach and we can only ponder at how events may have unfolded under his eventual rise to the senior post had he not passed away due to cancer in early 1996.
Barker was immortalised in the club’s pantheon when the best and fairest award was renamed in his honour later that year.
He will forever hold a special place in the hearts of St Kilda’s supporters.