Tom Barlow achieves perfect attendance
November 11, 2023
A year ago, as the season was winding down, we noticed a strange trend: Tom Barlow wasn't starting (that wasn't the strange part), but he was... playing. Game after game, Gerhard Struber found a way to insert the "Big, Strong, Fast" striker into the lineup. Alas, the Austrian manager decided to hold Barlow out of the regular-season finale, so perfect attendance wasn't reached. (He then missed out the playoff game as well.)
With Struber out, surely Barlow couldn't strive for perfection in 2023? Enter Troy Lesesne, who actually made Barlow into a starter, for better or for worse. It was definitely for worse through long parts of the season, until the stretch run, when it became obvious that Barlow... had to start? Call it a case of Stockholm Syndrome, but in an attack where nothing seemed to work, the starting pair of Barlow and Elias Manoel somehow wasn't half bad. So Barlow continued to start. Hell, he even scored three goals in the last five games of the year. That's something.
So Barlow ended the regular season playing in 34 out of 34 matches, a rare feat that happened only 28 times in team history (Carlos Coronel added his name to the list for the second time this year.) But Barlow's perfection (didn't think we'll see those two words together, yet here we are) extended further: by appearing in every Open Cup, Leagues Cup, and playoff match, he entered an even more exclusive club: perfect attendance for all competitions. There are 12 members, and Barlow stands first by playing in 43/43 games. (Previously, the record was joint held by Luis Robles and Felipe Martins, 41/41 in 2015.)
So here's to Barlow's perfection! Let's hope we don't need to write this article again next year, Stockholm Syndrome be damned.