Troubled AFL legend Ben Cousins looked in fine form during a training session last week as he prepared for an upcoming charity footy match.
The 43-year-old, who has battled drug addiction and various legal issues in the past, is set to play for the Crusaders against ex-Brisbane player Des Headland’s Spartans in an all-stars match to support Footy for Life, which raises funds for The Happiness Co Foundation and Lifeline WA.
The game will take place at Perth‘s Leederville Oval on January 22.
Fighting fit: Troubled AFL legend Ben Cousins looked in fine form during a training session last week as he prepared for an upcoming charity footy match
It will be the first time Cousins has walked out as a team captain since the AFL Grand Final in 2005.
His teammate Tim Brayshaw shared his disbelief that he was set to play alongside the AFL great in a Facebook status last week, alongside a picture of Cousins training.
Cousins, who is now working as a demolition tradie, looked ripped in the mid-action photo, showing off his muscular arms in a black tank top and matching shorts.
Ripped: At his peak, Cousins was undoubtedly the best player in the AFL, but suffered a rapid demise and subsequent total unwillingness to rid himself of negative life influences. Pictured in February 2006
‘It was a pretty surreal experience to wrap my mits around a 30m lace out pass from Ben Cousins tonight. To be playing along side of him and other ex-AFL legends is another story,’ Brayshaw captioned the image.
At his peak, Cousins was undoubtedly the best player in the AFL, but suffered a rapid demise and subsequent total unwillingness to rid himself of negative life influences.
In 2020, he decided to turn his life around after being jailed for the sixth time in 13 years.
Change: Before his well-overdue epiphany, Cousins had been in and out of jail since 2010 on drug and domestic violence charges. Cousins is pictured outside court in 2016
The former West Coast Eagles captain was convicted on November 4, 2020 and sentenced to seven months jail for stalking his former partner Maylea Tinecheff.
He was released just two weeks later from Hakea Jail in Perth due to time already served.
Buoyed by the knowledge that getting clean and healthy was the key to being a good dad to his children, son Bobby, nine, and daughter Angelique, seven, he soon started talking to Susan Backshell, a mental health support worker.
She issued him a blunt ultimatum soon after they met: ‘Give your all, or forget it entirely.’
Hard: In 2020, Cousins decided to turn his life around after being jailed for the sixth time in 13 years. Pictured leaving Fremantle Magistrates Court in Perth in 2017
Since then, he has volunteered at several events in and around Perth with Ms Backshell’s community group KALT Collective, acting as a beacon of hope for disadvantaged youths, addicts and reformed criminals.
He was even named as employee of the month at a Perth construction company in October 2021, in another sign he has truly turned his life around.
The flow-on effect has seen Cousins able to spend more time with his children.
Before his well-overdue epiphany, Cousins had been in and out of jail since 2010 on drug and domestic violence charges.
Return to the spotlight: Ben, who was awarded a Brownlow Medal in 2005, even made his long-awaited return to the ceremony in September last year alongside his date Kelley Hayes
‘I appreciate the support of everyone and how many chances they have given me, more than I deserve and more than I would have given anyone else,’ Cousins said in September 2021, according to The West Australian.
Ben, who was awarded a Brownlow Medal in 2005, even made his long-awaited return to the ceremony in September last year alongside his date, WA FIFO worker Kelley Hayes.
While they appeared very happy holding hands on the red carpet, it’s not known if the pair are still together today.
‘I’m just very fortunate that I got the opportunity to come to one of football’s great nights,’ Ben said on the red carpet.
‘It’s definitely a big night, it’s been a while since I’ve been to one of the football industry nights so I’m looking forward to it.’
Stronger: Since 2020, he has volunteered at several events in and around Perth with Ms Backshell’s community group KALT Collective, acting as a beacon of hope for disadvantaged youths, addicts and reformed criminals
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