Years at NOBs: 1994-2002, 2004
Joseph Barker arrived at NOBs in 1993, after stints with Pascoe Vale and VFA club Coburg. Joey eventually found his way to the Gillon, as he is an old boy, and it was NOBs that was his “home”.
Who is Joe Barker the footballer? Well Barks had one of the best pair of hands known to man. One out, either on the lead or in a wrestle, you’d back him in nine times out of ten. Furthermore he was a thumping kick of the footy too. And did he love a torpedo!!! There are some players at the club who are still mesmerised by his after the siren barrel goal from 60m against Old Haileybury in 2000. And then there is the Big Arms. Joe has the biggest arms you’d ever come across. Although his mother must take most of the credit here as in a past player profile Joe said that the best advice his mother gave him was “Thou shalt bench press and arm curl”….. And doesn’t he love the nickname Big Arms, even incorporating it in his email address!!!!
Everyone has a Joey memory, as he was a huge figure around the club-the heart and soul-who made others stand up and take notice when he had something to say. Like at the B&F count in 1999, when he gave an emotional speech from the bottom of his heart that was an indication of his love of the club.
When asked to summarise his time at North, Joey says that he “loved every minute of playing at NOBs. Meet a lot of great guys (not you Ged) who have become mates. Had the chance to play under fantastic coaches and in an environment where you could bring anyone down to the club and they were made welcome.” And he adds that he hopes he will be “remembered as a guy who gave 100% every time I played in the purple and white.” No worries there.
When he looks back at the memorable games during his career, Joe says that a clash with Thomastown at Thomastown is a day that will forever be etched in his memory. Joey lined up against a bloke named “BASHER” whom he said thoroughly deserved that name. It was a tough gig playing footy out there, with Joe claiming, “I thought the ghetto was in New York.”
Another memorable day was the 1997 C-Grade Grand Final v Marcellin. It was Joe’s only Grand Final appearance, and to put it kindly he looks back to the loss as very disappointing. He counts it as a career lowlight, as it was an opportunity missed. We had beaten Marcellin 3 times that year, and were arguably a much better side than them, but Joes says that “maybe we went into the decider with too much confidence”, which led to our downfall.
1997 was an important year for the club. It was our first year in C-Grade since the late 60’s, and it was a real test to see if we could fight back. And fight back we did with a scintillating season that saw the club finish the home and away rounds on top of the ladder. However in the 2nd Semi against St Bedes Mentone at the Trevor Barker in Sandringham we were four goals down at the half. Cue a NOBs revival; with Barker and his old mate Boyle getting in on the act up forward to guide North home and straight back to B-Grade.
Another day to remember for Joey was the 1998 B-Grade 1st Semi v Old Trinity at Elsternwick Park. NOBs found themselves 7 goals down at one stage during the game, but thanks to a Dunell brain-wave, which resulted in Barker being thrown into the ruck, NOBs stormed back to within less than a kick, only for Trinity to stead and hold on for the win.
Joey missed the 2000 B-Grade 1st Semi against De La with his first child being born, and then returned to the side for the prelim against Mazenod, but we went down by 4 goals. And then in 2002 as NOBs were in the 1st Semi again at Elsternwick Park- against Mazenod- Joey had a day out. Modestly he says “Personally I had a good game” but that is understating it significantly. Joey reigned supreme that day at Elsternwick, with a virtuoso performance that won the game.
It was against a team which had beaten us on the past four occasions, and after we got off to a flyer they reeled us in and we were headed in the straight, only for North to steady and steam roll the Nodders in the final fifteen minutes much to the joy of the purple & white faithful. What was so special about his performance that day? Everything. As the key forward Joseph took countless marks, including a couple of beauties running back with the flight of the ball into a pack. He finished with 4 goals and was clearly best on ground.
But its not just the finals that are remembered. For Joe there was a day out in the south-east rain belt against Mazenod in 2000 that he won’t forget quickly. He estimates it was -5C, and rained monsoonally all day. And to top it off he played in the ruck against “Magilla Gorilla” and he claims that the ball was thrown up 4,657 times!!! Needless to say come 5.00pm the big fella was black and blue.
And what is his greatest memory from playing with NOBs? Well it comes as no shock that it is playing with younger brother Michael. There a tight knit family the Barkers, and heaven help someone who raised a matter with young Michael whilst old brother Joseph was on the field. Cue trademark Barker headlock.
Also playing with good mate LJ (Luke Boyle) was a great memory. And together they have made the pump action handball what it is today. Lukey was the brains behind the operation, as he invented it, whilst Joey was the front man, who made it popular through his use and constant spruiking of this new type of handball.
Another great story about Joe involves his infamous love of a Dim Sim. It was a well-known fact that he liked his Dimmies, and one particular Sunday was a perfect illustration of this love affair. There was a double header of AFL on the box, and in preparation for this Joey opened up a bag of Dimmies, and cooked them up. He worked his way through a few, then felt he needed to spice things up a little so he headed down to the local KFC and ordered and took care of a bucket of chicken. He then headed home and polished off the remaining Dim Sims. Come the next Sunday arvo as he gets the Dim Sim bag out and empties the contents into the pan, but there is only six left. He looks at the bag and sees it is a pack of 30, and realises that the week previous he consumed an amazing 24 Dim Sims, as well as the bucket of chicken. A phenomenal effort in anyone’s book.
As for career highlight he says that there is too many to mention. It’s probably true, but just to mention a few he was runner up in the B&F at NOBs, was a winner of the Cashen-Fogarty Award and won the goalkicking on a number of occasions.
The best players Joe has played with in his time at NOBs are;
* Luke Boyle- Fantastic goal kicker, never handballed after the full back line.
* Brett Collison- Mr Consistent.
* Owen Abrahams- Tough and hard as old boots. Always gave %100.
* Steve Brazil- Sensational.
And ever the punter Joey gives you a wink and a nod and predicted years ago that current club captain Chris Hosking could be a 200+ gamer and multiple B&F winner.
And Joey being Joey is hard to pin down when asked about best opponents, as he doesn’t rate many of them!! But eventually he gives some names, saying the legendary Old Xavs ruckman Mick Blood was a “very good” player, who you never had beat, and Matt McConville (Ormond) was another top adversary.
And his thoughts on the other members of the Fab Four;
Paul Booth; Fantastic footballer who had great endurance and was a great clubman.
Luke Boyle; One of NOBS best forwards who was stronger than he looked! Great servant of the club who loved playing in the purple and white.
Brett Collison; Super consistent and was rarely beaten. Great longevity and was fantastic to see him play 200 games.
And heaven help amateurs backman in 20 years time when Joe’s two sons (Thomas and Daniel) are the key forwards dominating the league for the COBBERS, with proud father Joe watching on as he tucks into a few dimmies with his form guide in hand as they race at the Valley.