Sport

Leigh Hall — it’s a long story

By Andrew Johnston

FEW in the KDL will make it to 400 games in the league.

Truth be told, few in any league, anywhere, will come within coo-ee of a number that big.

So for anyone who makes the magic milestone, it is a point worth celebrating.

But for the newest member of the 400 club, Stanhope’s Leigh Hall, the celebration could easily have been a low key affair.

All for one simple reason — he didn’t realise it was happening.

‘‘I knew I’d played a few games, but I didn’t quite realise it was this many,’’ he laughed.

‘‘I’ve never really kept count or any of that. I’m 44, when you get to my age they all start to blend together.’’

After a thirds career across two leagues, Hall settled in at his home club of Merrigum in the mid 1990’s, beginning his near quarter century journey through the KD.

‘‘I spent a decade at Merrigum to begin with,’’ he said.

‘‘It was a fantastic club, I loved my time there and made a lot of great friendships through it. It was the start of my journey in football, so I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity.’’

It was also the place where Hall had what he rates as his best moment in football.

‘‘I rate the two thirds premierships in 2002 and 2003 as career highlights,’’ he said.

‘‘There was a young group of kids who in the years before were regularly being belted by 100 or 200 points in almost every game. It’s tough to keep coming back when you are in that position, but these guys did.

‘‘As a coach to watch how hard they worked through it all and see them come out the other side and win back-to-back premierships, it meant a lot to me. I was so happy to see them succeed.’’

Though his time at Merrigum remains important to him, it came to an end in the mid 2000’s.

‘‘We had a difference of opinion, and I decided to make a change,’’ he said.

‘‘The first club to really make contact with me was Stanhope. I had a lot of friends there who urged me to come and play with them, so I made the move and have spent the past 13 years with the club.’’

Stanhope would go on to deliver more personal success for Hall, with senior premierships in 2007 and 2008, as well as reserves premierships in 2010 and 2018.

Hall intends to play for as long as he can, though it may not be for much longer as a regular player.

‘‘My son Brayden plays as well,’’ he said.

‘‘He’s currently playing juniors on a Sunday which allows me to play on Saturday’s with no issue, but in the next few seasons he will move into playing 18s at a GVL club, so he will move to Saturday, so it will be about watching him for me after that.’’

After a quarter century in the league, Hall says his love of the game is as much about the people around him as the sport itself.

‘‘I love being around football clubs,’’ he said.

‘‘The atmosphere and the people are just incredible. They become your social life during the winter, you spend a lot of time with them so you all become incredibly close. It really is a fantastic thing to be a part of.’’