National call-up boosts Barton’s A-League ambitions
HAVING good mates Dylan Wenzel-Halls and Alex Parsons playing in the A-League inspires Darryl Barton to keep aiming high.
The former Ipswich Grammar School trio have been prolific goal scorers at school and club level for a number of seasons.
As Wenzel-Halls and Parsons focus on their Brisbane Roar careers this season, Barton is being monitored by the Central Coast Mariners having trialled with the A-League club before COVID.
"I've spoken to Dylan a few times about what it takes to make the A-League and how he's doing and stuff like that,'' Barton said.
"I always say congratulations if I see him now.''
Parsons made his A-League debut with Roar this season, following the rise of Wenzel-Halls the past few years.
"That's my longer-term goal now, definitely,'' Barton said of wanting to join his former IGS and Western Pride mates in Australia's top domestic competition.
Barton has also played with Dylan's younger brother Declan, who he is joining at the Ipswich Knights this season, having switched from Western Pride.
That family connection strengthens Barton's resolve to learn from those already in the A-League.
"They (Mariners) said they'd keep an eye on us,'' Barton said, having trialled with Pride talents Joshua Boyle and Jermaine Chiuta in 2019.
"With COVID and that, me and a few other boys didn't really get a chance to go on last year so I'm not sure what's happening now.''
While he's waiting to see what eventuates with the Mariners, Barton has received another elite opportunity.
He was the youngest footballer chosen in the Australian Indigenous Roos team that played Queensland's National Premier Leagues champions Peninsula Power in an exhibition match last weekend.
Although Power won 6-1 at Redcliffe, Barton savoured his first national representative match as a proud Indigenous footballer and for a higher level chance to learn.
"Especially playing with older, experienced players and stuff like that,'' Barton said.
"It was a good experience to learn off them.''
Barton played 70 minutes in a striker/wing role in the team mentored by Australian football great and former A-League coach Frank Farina.
He hopes more similar opportunities arrive in the future having been involved with Indigenous football since 2018, including through Ipswich Grammar School.
Barton, who turned 18 on February 11, is affectionately called Buddha having been a chubby baby.
He doesn't mind the nickname having shed the kilos to become one of the Ipswich region's most exciting football prospects.
"I love it,'' he said. "Most of the commentators call me Darryl 'Buddha' Barton.''
Among Barton's achievements was scoring 35 goals in 24 games for Western Pride during the 2019 National Premier Leagues under-16 season.
His leading haul featured five goals against Peninsula Power and Gold Coast Knights that year. He also scored four against Redlands United and a hat-trick against Sunshine Coast Fire.
Last season, he netted a late equaliser in the final game against Mitchelton that helped Western Pride secure the under-18 Queensland Premier League premiership.
The Pride youngsters won eight games and drew three in an undefeated season.
Barton was regularly Ipswich Grammar's top goal scorer in GPS and other school competitions.
Having switched from Pride to the Knights this season, Barton is reuniting with his brother Darren.
After making his senior team debut with Pride last season, Barton hopes to secure more game time with the Knights in the 2021 Football Queensland Premier League (FQPL) competition.
"I want to develop as a player and play first grade,'' the painter said.
"We've had pre-season and I've been playing striker for the first team, so that's been good.
"I've scored a couple of goals.''
The Knights first 2021 FQPL match is against Mitchelton at Eric Evans Oval on March 12.