Barnes-Herdman: Kick it to me... or me

Wedderburn forwards Sam Barnes and Brady Herdman.
Wedderburn forwards Sam Barnes and Brady Herdman.

DUNSTALL-Brereton, Lockett-Loewe, Lloyd-Lucas, Carey-Longmire and more recently, Franklin-Tippett.

They are five AFL forward duos so damaging no first names are needed.

The central Victorian equivalent over the past three years has been the Barnes-Herdman forward combination at Wedderburn.

Star forwards of the calibre of Sam Barnes and Brady Herdman are a luxury for any football side - let alone both in the one team, as is the case at the Redbacks.

While Wedderburn is a team packed with talent across every line, there can be no coincidence since the establishment of the Barnes-Herdman forward partnership in 2011 that the Redbacks have won three North Central Football League flags in a row and are short-price favourites to add a fourth this year.

The goalkicking exploits of the pair were again on show last weekend in the most sensational of spectacles when both kicked 10 goals apiece in Wedderburn’s 97-point win over Boort.

Two team-mates kicking 10 goals in the same game is so rare that it has never happened in VFL/AFL history, although, the day Campbells Creek kicked its Australian record score of 100.34 (634) in 1990, five players booted at least 10.

Between them, Barnes (44) and Herdman (38) have kicked 82 goals this year in seven games, which is more than fellow NCFL teams Birchip-Watchem (77), Wycheproof-Narraport (64) and Donald (51) have kicked in total.

Their combined record since Herdman joined the Redbacks from Eaglehawk in 2011 is 525 goals from 112 games - Barnes booting 324 and Herdman 201.

So, how do the pair go about their business so smoothly and to such devastating effect inside the Redbacks’ forward 50?

“Brady works up and back really well, and I only tend to lead out if he’s too far up the ground,” said Barnes, who joined Wedderburn from Sandhurst in 2007.

“There’s always plenty of room for us and we don’t tend to crash into each other too much.”

As well as the Redbacks creating plenty of space for Barnes and Herdman to work into, communication between the pair is also a crucial element to their success.

“There were a few games when Brady first came up that we went for the same ball, but rarely now do we get in each other’s space,” Barnes said.

“If we do, whoever’s in the better position seems to come down with it.”

While Barnes and Herdman create plenty of the headlines with their goalkicking feats, like any forwards, they are only as good as the supply inside 50.

“A lot of it comes down to the work of our midfielders and half-forwards,” first-year Wedderburn coach Luke Rosa said.

“When our midfielders push back into defence, we’re finding they get a lot of easy ball on the way back and our forward line is open.

“Guys like Ben DeAraugo and Liam McCarthy play a really important role in hitting up across half-forward and creating space for Sam and Brady.

“When we get them one-on-one, they are both very hard to beat.

“But it’s not only the goals they kick. Barnsey lays great tackles inside 50 to force free-kicks and Herdy is much the same.

“They are both very exciting players.”

Herdman joined the Redbacks from Eaglehawk where he had also been a key member of star-studded forward lines alongside Matt Gretgrix and Kain Robins, including premiership years of 2007 and 2008 when the trio combined for 266 goals.

• The Barnes-Herdman forward combination:

2011: Barnes (95 goals), Herdman (58).

2012: Barnes (103), Herdman (70).

2013: Barnes (82), Herdman (35).

2014: Barnes (44), Herdman (38).


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