A new-look Ben Cousins appears happy and healthy, posing for photographs with fans at a park footy match in Perth as he overcomes his drug demons and gets his life back on track.
The fallen AFL star, 42, who has battled ice addiction for about two decades, was all smiles on Sunday, snapping selfies with die-hard fans that still remember just how good he was in his prime.
The one-time Brownlow Medalist is now playing park footy for the Queens Park Bulldogs in Perth and looks to have turned his life around after multiple run-ins with the law, a crippling drug addiction and numerous stints in jail.
A new-look Ben Cousins (pictured second right) appears happy and healthy, posing for photographs with fans at a park footy match in Perth.
Cousins (right) is park footy for the Queens Park Bulldogs in Perth and looks to have turned his life around
Cousins snaps a pic with a West Coast Eagles fan at Optus Stadium in Perth
The fallen AFL star, 42, who has battled ice addiction for about two decades, was all smiles on Sunday, snapping selfies with die-hard fans that still remember just how good he was
He played his first match for the local club on May 16, impressing fans with three goal assists 11 years after he sensationally retired from the game in 2010.
But as Cousins overcomes his addiction battle, questions remain about the role of West Coast club officials who have been accused of turning a blind eye to the team’s rampant drug abuse.
A new book called The Boy’s Club by award-winning journalist Michael Warner, suggests blatant illicit drug use by senior players were swept under the rug for years.
The bombshell book details how Cousins was found semi-conscious outside the Melbourne Convention Centre in December 2006 – shivering and paranoid – just two months after premiership midfielder and teammate Chad Fletcher almost died in Las Vegas.
The Eagles were flying high after winning the Grand Final against the Sydney Swans by a point in 2006, so most of the squad headed off to America’s adult playground – Las Vegas – in October that year.
As Cousins overcomes his demons, questions remain about the role of West Coast club officials who have been accused of turning a blind eye to the team’s rampant drug abuse
Cousin’s snaps a selfie with a West Coast Eagles fan at Optus Stadium in Perth
Fletcher ‘apparently collapsed’ outside the MGM Grand after returning from a nightclub.
A top secret internal report by Victorian judge William Gillard QC – commissioned by the club – claimed Fletcher spent four days in hospital and was allegedly ‘flat-lined’.
Fletcher denied he had taken any drugs before the hospitalisation and it is not suggested any were taken.
According to Mr Gillard’s report, there were about 19 players and five club officials on the trip and although he interviewed a number of people, finding out what happened ‘has not been easy’.
‘Chad Fletcher himself says he has no real memory of what occurred,’ the report said. ‘He denied that he was taking any drugs’.
‘The official approach by the club is that they do not know what caused the illness and Fletcher will not produce his medical records’.
Cousins, the former West Coast Eagles captain has been plagued by drug addiction and legal issues since his retirement from AFL in 2010
Cousins is pictured here with his ex-partner and mother of his children Maylea Tinecheff
Cousins battled an addiction to narcotics stretching as far back as 2006 when he was a professional AFL player
Mr Gillard said the whole episode reflects poorly on the club.
‘It exemplifies the attitude which had persisted for some five years previously, and that was to ignore any suggestion of drug-taking,’ he said.
‘The official line was there was no evidence of drug-taking. But the circumstantial evidence cannot be ignored.’
For Cousins, the writing was on the wall months before Fletcher allegedly overdosed.
He quit as captain in February 2006 after he was found to have ditched his car and fled from the police after approaching a breath-testing station.
He lifted the premiership that same year and in December was found unresponsive on the streets of Melbourne.
A good Samaritan that tried to help Cousins told the Sunday Age at the time that the footballer was ‘sweating and paranoid’.
‘He had his hands over his face and was looking around as if he was frightened someone was chasing him,’ the witness said.
‘I think I can tell the difference between drunk and drugs and I’d say he was tripping out bad — his brain was fried on some hard-core stuff.’
Cousins is pictured with his Queens Park Bulldogs teammates on Sunday. The club are Perth’s Metro Football League reigning premiers
Cousins (pictured) helped guide his Queens Park Bulldogs side to a 40-point victory, setting up one goal and kicking one of his own
Cousins, who previously opened-up about how he went from 2005 Brownlow Medal winner to homeless drug addict, appeared in peak physical fitness
Cousins was eventually let go from the club in October 2007 after he was arrested for drug possession and refused to give a blood test.
That same month former West Eagles skipper Chris Mainwaring was found dead of cocaine overdose, with a coroner’s report later finding that Cousins had visited the 201-game veteran twice on the day he died.
Gillard said coach John Worsfold was told by at least three fairly reliable sources in 2002 that some players were taking illicit drugs and were mixing with undesirable persons and could get themselves into trouble.
Among the names mentioned was Ben Cousins.
‘They were spoken to by the coach, and the players responded that there was nothing to worry about.’
Although Gillard’s report was damning, no action was ever taken against club officials as the findings were only permitted to recommend punishment for incidents that took place after 2007 when the drug saga had mostly resided.
It marks the first time Cousins has returned to the field since retiring in 2010, overcoming a drug addiction and spending time in jail over possession of methamphetamine
Fallen AFL star Ben Cousins has been spotted posing for a photograph with a glamorous fan as the recovering ice addict begins his new career in park football
THE TROUBLED LIFE AND TIMES OF BEN COUSINS:
1996 – Makes AFL debut with West Coast and is named the league’s Rising Star
2001 – Named club captain of West Coast at age 23
2002 – Breaks his arm falling down a flight of stairs at a nightclub months after punching his teammate Daniel Kerr
2005 – (May) Is quizzed by police about association with underworld identities
– (September) Wins Brownlow medal as the AFL’s best and fairest player
Cousins after the 2006 AFL Grand Final
2006 – (February) Swims across a Perth river to escape a booze bus
– (September) Wins AFL premiership with the Eagles
– (December) Is arrested after passing out in front of Melbourne’s Crown Casino and spends four hours in jail
2007 – (March) Suspended by West Coast after missing training session
– (April) Goes to a drug rehabilitation facility in the US
– (October) Revealed to have visited fellow Eagles legend Chris Mainwaring twice on the night he died of a drug overdose
– (October) Arrested and charged with drug offences that are later dropped
– (November) Eventually sacked by West Coast and banned from the AFL for one year
2008 – AFL re-registers Cousins and he is signed by Richmond
2010 – Retires from the AFL but releases autobiography and documentary
Cousins has been charged with drug possession and refusing a drug test in 2007, but the charges were later dropped
2015 – Arrested three times before leading police on a slow-speed car chase
2016 – (June) Spotted behaving erratically and directing traffic on a highway
– (October) In and out of court over drug offences and breaches a restraining order taken out by his ex-partner
2018 – (January) Released from jail on parole just 10 months into his sentence
He takes up a community support role with the West Coast Eagles – a requirement of his parole conditions
– (May): Reports emerge he hasn’t been seen at the club for a month
The club confirms the he told officials in April he no longer wanted the job
– (August) Arrested and charged with drug possession and breaching a restraining order
2019 – (February) He was fined $1,750 for possessing meth and hiding it up his anus while in jail
(March) Cousins pleaded not guilty to 14 offences in court, including breaching a family violence restraining order and a count each of aggravated stalking and threatening to injure, endanger or harm
(April) Cousins is arrested in Perth with a Cousins is released from jail on bail after eight months inside.
2020 – (March) Tell-all documentary Coming Clean goes to air – Cousins opens up about his meth addiction and time behind bars.
(April) Cousins is arrested in Perth after allegedly being caught with 2.5grams of methamphetamine while asleep beside his car.
He is remanded in custody after pleading guilty to possessing methamphetamine and incurring a $1500 fine.
He is also charged with aggravated stalking of his ex-partner, Maylea Tinecheff.
(October) Cousins pleads not guilty to aggravated stalking and 20 counts of breaching a family violence restraining order relating to his ex-partner.
(November) He is convicted of stalking his ex-partner but acquitted by a Perth court of restraining order breaches. He is sentenced to seven months jail, which is backdated to April.
He is released from Hakea prison in late November.
2021 – Cousins returns to the footy field playing for the Queens Park Bulldogs in Perth’s Metro Football League