Barbuto shines on biggest stage, again

Kane Barbuto (Ljubica Vrankovic) 362605_16

Tara Murray

Premiership number three was extra special for Keilor captain Kane Barbuto.

Having been part of the 2016 premiership and then skippering the side in a best on ground performance in 2019, this year felt different.

Barbuto had to step away from playing last year at his beloved Keilor due to work and his family.

This year, he returned and took back up the captaincy to lead the Essendon District Football League premier division side.

On Saturday, he captained the side as it completed the perfect season.

“This one was a completely different experience to what I’ve felt before,” he said. “I’ve played in three and there’s something special about that one and the group that we’ve got.

“It’s been a weird last four years with COVID.. We reached the heights we did in 2019, got the season cancelled in 2020 and 11 games in 21.

“Then last year I had to step away personally, just my family and make sure my job was all good.

“I had a little bit to repay the team for that. No one has ever told me that but I knew personally… I just needed this one for the boys I needed to repay this one a little bit.”

Barbuto said heading into the game was the most nervous he has ever been and was a wreck the last couple of days.

He said one the siren went, he was fine.

“The nerves were unbelievable,” he said. “Scoreboard pressure was massive. To capitalise and get on the scoreboard early, even me personally gives you a bit of confidence to kick another.

“For the group to stay that lead five goals going into three quarter time and to kick early goals and we knew that we had that run on that we weren’t going to be stopped.”

Having been part of one of the greatest EDFL comebacks on Windy Hill against Strathmore, Barbuto said it was only when they were 10 goals up with 15 minutes to go they knew they had done enough.

The umpires awarded Barbuto the Reg Rose Medal as the best player on the ground. He also won the medal in 2019.

Having lost a number of key players at the end of last season, Barbuto said they didn’t know what to expect this season.

He said once they got half way through the season, that they were onto something special.

“To be honest we didn’t know what to expect coming into this year,” he said. “We’ve got to trust Mick [McGuane], he is mastermind behind what we do.

“I’ve never played in a team that chaotic and that freely before one of the best teams I’ve ever played in.”

For Barbuto, he’ll celebrate the premiership and then work out what the future holds.

“I had to cap off a good career at Keilor, I don’t know if I go it or not.”