Big, bad boundary rider
RETIREMENT from football can have sudden, debilitating consequences. A legend of the game can awake one morning to discover the prime source of motivation in his life is no longer there.
Gone is the adrenalin rush of competition, the discipline required to stick to a training routine, the fun in mixing with your mates all day, and the hefty pay cheque.
Barry Hall can understand why retirement can send a player into a downward emotional spiral. When the former St Kilda, Sydney and Western Bulldogs powerhouse hung up the boots in 2011, he was troubled about what the future held.
“I went through a bit of a rut … what was my purpose, what am I getting out of bed for?” Hall says of adjusting to retirement. “As a player there is always something to look forward to when you wake up – a training session or a game.
“When I finished I had no real drive to get up and get active.
“So I made myself a pact that I’d get out of bed at 7.30 and do something active and go to the gym.”
In a 15- year playing career, Hall was a gun forward and premiership player whose physical aggression made him, on occasion, harder to handle than a bag of snakes.
It was no great surprise when, early last year, he announced he was having a crack at professional boxing.
On the eve of his first bout, however, Hall dropped a bombshell – his post- footy life as a boxer was over before it had even started.
There was shock Hall was turning his back on a reported $ 500,000 payday, but his conscience told him it wouldn’t be right to climb into the ring if his heart wasn’t in it.
“It was a tough position to be in because a lot of people had put work in behind the scenes to make it happen,” Hall says.
“It would have been easy to just have the one fight and take a big, fat pay cheque, but people pay money to see you fight and I think it would have been unfair if I’d gone ahead with it.
“Deep down, I don’t know that I could have taken it [ boxing] much further.”
In his new job at Fox Footy, Hall will show he has brains to match the brawn. The 35- year- old, who had a guest role on panel show AFL 360 last year, will in 2013 be a boundary rider and appear across a range of other footy- related programs.
Hall confesses there were times as a player that he loathed the media comments directed at him, but knows there is no place for him in TV if he’s afraid to speak his mind.
“As a player, I didn’t take it well at all,” Hall says of negative comments and headlines.
“It really used to give me the s---when people bagged me.
“But as I got older I began to understand what the media was saying, even if I didn’t agree with it.
“I have a lot to learn about TV and all I can do is call it as I see it. My natural instinct will be to see things on the side of the player first.”
FOX FOOTY ( on Foxtel) will broadcast every game of the AFL home and away season live across Australia, with no ad breaks siren to siren.