13/04/2024

Brent Staker in action for the Eagles. Picture: Brent Staker.

It was one of the first of its kind witnessed in modern day AFL, the hit to Brent Staker’s head by Barry Hall. 13 years on from the infamous incident, Staker shares on how the hit is still perceived by the sporting community.

It was one of the first of its kind witnessed in modern day AFL, the hit to Brent Staker’s head by Barry Hall.

An “80’s incident in the year of 2000s” as Staker described it to The Inner Sanctum.

The footage went global, causing much outrage amongst both the sporting community and those who were left uncomfortable viewing the incident.

However, 13 years on from the infamous incident, Staker shares with The Inner Sanctum the way the knock is still perceived by the sporting community.

Staker laughs at himself at the way he describes his piece of history, ‘my eyes rolling back in my head will always be there’, but the humour shortly stops as he shares what it was like to play in the Queensland State League.

After Staker’s retirement in 2015 from the Brisbane Lions, he continued to play football in Queensland for one more season.

Fans of the opposition would use the head-knock as trash talk against the former Eagle and Lion.

“It was the ammunition that a lot of the opposition in the crowd would use against me,” Staker told The Inner Sanctum.

“I’ve heard many, many times, ‘that’s the guy that Barry Hall punched’ or ‘how’s your jaw’.”

Still to this day, people with little knowledge on the incident itself, or for head knocks in general refuse to engage in educational conversation about the effects that concussions and head trauma can leave on an individual.

Staker says it’s important to talk about such incidents and is happy to answer questions by those who want to educate others.

It’s those with ignorance or want to be “smart” about it is when Staker refuses to acknowledge what is being said.

“I’m totally happy to talk about. It’s just when you come across people that are a bit of a smart ass that don’t really want to know the answer, those people I avoid and don’t bother engaging in conversation,” Staker said.

For those willing to listen and understand the severity of such knocks, Staker will say that he believes his hit was the pivotal moment which opened the eyes of the AFL and make them understand that such aggression on the field could no longer be tolerated.

“I think the AFL has totally shifted. My incident was one of the first where the game started to change, where they started to say, ‘hey that’s not on anymore’,” Staker said.

“It got highlighted it was made a story, and I think for the good of the game. It needed to happen.

“[Intentional head-knocks have] evolved since, and the AFL really do care about the safety [of their players] because if they don’t, pretty much it’ll come back to bite them.

“They have to give a damn about their players, and they have to care about our brains, because you only get one brain and we can’t rip it out and throw another brain in.

“They care if anything happens on game day now, how you get assessed, all for the betterment of the player.”

It was a matter of time and moment for Staker, who looks on the incident on being nothing personal, but just being the player who felt the repercussions of Hall’s anger on the day.

“It could have been another player, it just happened to be me in that instance, and it happened to be Barry Hall,” Staker said.

The hit that will forever remain in history, is one that Staker has been able to move on from.

In 2017, Staker and Hall sat down together for the first time and watched the incident together on The Footy Show.

Whilst on the show, he admitted the uncomfortable feeling having to watch the hit alongside Hall and that he will always be remembered at the guy that Barry Hall hit.

Ultimately, Staker was able to come out of the incident with minimal injury and could still continue his career.

It is now the sporting community’s job to advocate in a similar style to Staker that much more needs to be taught about head-knocks and that intentional hits have no place on any sporting ground.

“I’m very lucky with that I don’t have any (long term head injuries), I could have lost teeth that day or fractured a jaw,” Staker said.

“So, I’m just very lucky that nothing severe happened to me at the time.”

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