Is the media all too often looking for heroes and glorifying the dead? Or has Australia’s obsession with sport simply gone too far? This effort from the Herald Sun in 1997 is one of the worst examples we’ve seen of a media outlet glorifying the wrong bloke and then having to embarrassingly correct their story the following day.

Herald Sun

Brawl death spurs team

By Karen Collier and Philip Cullen
10 June 1997, page 4

A FOOTY club captain-coach fatally stabbed in a street brawl lived for his team. And mates at Brunswick Amateur Football Club vowed yesterday to put their heart and soul into winning this year’s flag to honor him. Family and friends of Daniel James Hall, 30, said he was a battler on and off the field.

“The club was Dan’s home away from home,” said his widow, Donna.

“He even talked football in his sleep.”

Mr Hall’s mother, Patricia, said footy was her son’s passion.

“He could sing the Collingwood theme song before he could say Mum and Dad,” she said.

Devastated family and players said yesterday the doting dad lived for the red-and-white jumper of his beloved Brunswick Amateur football team. But his life ended tragically in the car park of the West Brunswick club on Sunday night after suffering a stab wound to the stomach.

The killing is believed to have flared after a mate claimed to have been run over by a car. The team vice-captain and another player were also stabbed and were recovering in hospital. A nearby resident, 32, suffered a cut to the head and was assisting police with inquiries.

Mr Hall’s wife, Donna, said her husband was a battler who had earned respect on and off the footy field.

“There will never be another one like him,” Mrs Hall said from the Melton home they had moved to on Friday.

“He wanted to get away from violence and didn’t go out of his way to cause trouble.”

Police yesterday retrieved a knife from Peacock St. Mr Hall was discovered metres from the Dunstan Reserve clubrooms where he had been drinking at a social barbecue throughout the day.

Ambulance officers resuscitated Mr Hall at the scene and again at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where he later died. Homicide detectives believe the brawl erupted at 9.15pm after a woman driving a red car was accused of running over one of the players.

Mr Hall had left the locked clubrooms with a group of friends when an argument flared in the car park and spilled into the street.

Det. Sen-Sgt Ron Iddles said a group including Mr Hall approached a man in a parked white car over the unsubstantiated hit-run allegation. Then two women in their mid-20s were chased to a nearby house where they sought refuge in a back yard.

A confrontation which included another man broke out on the front lawn.

“It is apparent that his initial action was to help the women,” Det. Sen-Sgt Iddles said.

He said the driver of the white car and the women were not associated with the club. Mr Hall’s brother-in-law Mark Sayers said Mr Hall died “sticking up for his mates”.

The fitter and turner and Collingwood fan moved from a Broadmeadows flat on Friday to “start a new life” and set up a painting business. Mrs Hall said her husband had adored daughter Taylor, 3, and stepson Corey, who turns eight tomorrow.

The 190cm ruckman played with Preston, Moomba Park, Broadford and Southbank before lifting the Brunswick Amateur third-division seniors side from wooden-spoon status in 1995. A highlight was playing in a Victorian Amateur Football Association side against South Australia in 1993 and Brunswick’s 1992 premiership.

Deputy vice-captain Michael Barker said Mr Hall had saved the club from folding and recruited dozens of players in his two years as captain-coach.

A day later the Herald Sun revealed a very different side to Danny Hall, more a kin to violent hooligan than valiant hero:

Herald Sun – Footballer’s violent streak
By Geoff Wilkinson and Karen Collier

11 June 1997, page 4

THE dark side of Danny Hall emerged yesterday as detectives continued to probe the death of the football club captain-coach. A man bashed by Hall in a hotel fight said the slain footballer, who had a history of assault convictions, was “no local hero”.

The man, who has had two operations and is awaiting a third to correct facial damage inflicted in the fight, said he was “king hit” by Hall after a minor altercation.

When he was stabbed to death last weekend, 30-year-old Hall was still subject to a suspended two-year jail sentence for intentionally causing serious injury in another hotel assault.

The County Court was told Hall stomped on the head of a man lying unconscious on the road outside a Brunswick hotel after a fight inside. The injured man suffered a fractured skull in the attack. The wife of a man bashed unconscious by Hall on another occasion said yesterday her husband’s face “looked like a potato” after he was kicked in the head in a hotel toilet.

She said Hall dragged her husband out into a lane after the attack, left him lying unconscious in a gutter, then went back into the hotel.

Court records confirmed yesterday that Hall had been convicted of assault at least three times in the past two years. In February 1995, he was convicted at Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court of intentionally and recklessly causing serious injury and sentenced to four months’ jail to be served as an intensive correction order.

In May last year, he received a two-year suspended sentence in the County Court after being convicted of intentionally causing serious injury. Four months later, he was convicted and fined at Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on an assault charge.

A detective who dealt with Hall several times said yesterday he was “a fantastic fellow sober, but a different bloke altogether on the turps”. He said Hall, captain-coach of the Brunswick Amateurs, was known as “a bit of a bash artist around Brunswick – always in a blue when he was drunk”.

Police are still considering whether any charges are to be laid over Hall’s stabbing.

Det. Sen-Sgt Ron Iddles, of the homicide squad, said detectives were also investigating the possibility of assault and affray charges being laid against men involved in a running fight before Sunday night’s fatal stabbing.

A West Brunswick man who has been interviewed by detectives in relation to the stabbing of Hall and two other men, suffered cuts and bruises during a violent confrontation outside his home.

Det. Sen-Sgt Iddles said the man questioned by police had rung for police and an ambulance shortly before the stabbings after seeing a group of men assaulting several women near his home about 9.15pm on Sunday.

When the man opened his front door a few minutes later, two terrified women ran into his house and he was confronted by three or four men in his front yard. Hall was stabbed with a kitchen knife during the fight that followed and staggered from the front of the house to the nearby football club carpark.

The resident was on the ground being assaulted by two men when police arrived at the scene. Police said Hall and the injured men had been drinking during the afternoon at a social barbecue at the football clubrooms in Dunstan Reserve. The man who was questioned by police yesterday refused to comment.

A friend cleaning blood from the street said the father-of-two was upset the confrontation had ended in death.

“These days, you have got to protect yourself,” Jamie Baldacchino said. “I think if I had two girls knocking on my door like that, I would let them in.”

Another woman known to the family described them as “wonderful people who minded their own business”.

A frightened resident who ran outside in her nightgown after hearing Sunday’s commotion said Hall threw a rubbish bin at her and threatened to kill her unless she retreated.

The stabbing, which left full-forward Steve McBride in hospital with a knife wound to the stomach, his brother and vice-captain Mick McBride with minor injuries and full-back and Hall’s brother-in-law Brett Sayers with a stab wound to the back, has sparked community fears of revenge attacks.

Mourners yesterday laid flowers at the club’s entrance. About 60 past and present players and members met at the clubrooms last night to appoint a new coach.

Club president Gil Huckstepp said the team – third-division seniors in the Footscray District Football League – would take to the field on Saturday without a captain as a sign of respect for their dead leader. Steve McBride remained in the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a stable condition yesterday.