Tougher on head knocks

As printed in The West Australian – Wednesday 8th September 2021

Exclusive by Steve Butler

A former Fremantle Docker has given a startling insight into his WAFL preseason match bout of concussion as WA football administrators get set to reveal bold new plans to tackle the modern game’s biggest scourge.

Brady Grey said being concussed in March, while playing for Perth, had left him so confused he had to watch a video replay of the incident to convince himself he had not been able to take the resulting free kick after being struck to the head.

Grey, pictured below, was actually carried from the ground and suffered headaches for several days.

“It’s the first major concussion I’ve had and before I’d seen the vision, I thought I’d just walked off the field by myself after taking the possession,” Grey said.

“You look back at the vision and I was actually carried off by the trainers and that’s the scary part. There’s this little period where you don’t actually know what happened.

“When you get a head knock, you’ve got to make sure you’re 100 per cent right because your longterm health is more important than coming back on in the fourth corner of a final. I want to be a normal person post my footy career.”

Fears around concussion escalated when WA football legend Graham Farmer was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. West Coast premiership player Daniel Venables retired recently because of ongoing issues related to concussion and teammate Brad Sheppard had lingering issues after an incident in last month’s western derby. Western Bulldogs forward Cody Weightman is expected to miss this Saturday’s preliminary final against Port Adelaide due to a concussion.

Grey’s admission comes with the WA Football Commission to today detail an action plan to try to prevent concussions and raise awareness for best-practice management for players. It is likely to include tougher penalties for dangerous tackles and head-high contact.

It will also be underpinned by a new memorandum of understanding with Connectivity Traumatic Brain Injury Australia, a not-for-profit organisation raising awareness of concussion and traumatic brain injury.

WAFC chief executive Michael Roberts said the WAFC wanted to assure parents it was safe to send their children to play football. “The commission has said nothing is off the table and we’ll look at any rules associated with it to make the game safer for players,” he said.

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