HE grew up as a keen Geelong fan but Herb Barlow these days is a proud soldier of the Purple Army.
Herb will be part of the full-of-voice minority cheering on Fremantle today as it makes club history in the AFL grand final against Hawthorn.
The North Warrnambool Eagles defender is the brother of Dockers onballer Michael Barlow and will be on the edge of his seat at the MCG today.
The brothers are two of five children — four boys, one girl — who grew up at Shepparton.
They played for Goulburn Valley league club Shepparton United as juniors and boarded at Assumption College in Kilmore.
“We had some fair hit-outs as kids,” Herb said.
“I’m the oldest and there’s only five years between me and the youngest boy.
“We’ve run around and knocked into each other a fair bit, given each other blood noses. It was all fun growing up.”
Herb said he marvelled at what Michael, 25, had been able to achieve in football.
Fremantle took him as a mature-age recruit for 2010 after two breakout seasons at VFL club Werribee.
His emergence from rookie to livewire onballer has helped change the attitudes of recruiters towards drafting players out of their teens.
“He didn’t bloom that late, he just never got the chance that he deserved at a younger age,” Herb said.
“He stuck with it and, as you saw when he kicked off his debut season, he went straight into it like he’d been playing for years.”
Herb and Eagles teammate Liam Ryan were among the thousands at Subiaco for the preliminary final win against Sydney last Saturday.
He said his brother playing in a grand final was “pretty surreal”.