Kane Cornes takes aim at AFL after Dean Laidley's arrest

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured left is former AFL coach Dean Laidley and Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes on the right.
Kane Cornes says the AFL should be doing more to help former coaches like Dean Laidley. Pic: Getty

Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes has used the sad Dean Laidley saga to highlight the need for the game to provide better care for its former coaches.

Former North Melbourne coach Laidley was arrested outside a home in St Kilda on Saturday night, photographed wearing a long blonde wig and a dress.

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The photos of the 53-year-old in a police station interview room as well as his mug shot were disseminated on social media on Sunday after it emerged they were leaked by a senior police officer.

A Victorian police officer has since been stood down over the leaked photos and could face maximum penalties of two years in prison or $40,000 in fines.

Friends, family and former teammates have rallied around Laidley after the arrest of the former coach, who is facing seven charges including one of stalking.

On Monday night, Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph discussed how Laidley's drug use had been an "open secret" and that loved ones had tried to get him the help he needed.

Cornes said the situation is a prime example of how the AFL and the AFL Coaches' Association should be doing more to ensure the wellbeing of individuals who, for whatever reason, are no longer involved with the sport.

He said it’s no secret many former coaches, as well as players, struggle with life after football and the AFL has a duty of care to its former employees.

"It's going to be magnified with more coaches across the industry losing their job," Cornes told Channel Nine’s Footy Classified.

"I spoke to a coach today that had been sacked and he heard from the AFL Coaches' Association once in the time that he was sacked.

"The AFL needs to take some responsibility (as well as) the Coaches' Association to make sure we are supporting these coaches who do lose their job in the industry, and there's going to be more of them, to make sure that they are okay."

Friends and family react to Laidley’s arrest

Laidley’s mother Carmel Friburg said she was “gobsmacked” over his arrest.

“It’s just hard for me to believe - he’s always been level-headed, he’s never been in any trouble or anything like that,” she told the West Australian.

“He was here at Christmas time — he wasn’t well but he was OK and I spoke to him on Wednesday and he seemed to be OK.

“I’m just absolutely devastated because it’s just not him, it’s not him at all.”

Former North Melbourne teammate David King expressed his “overwhelming sadness” at Laidley’s plight.

“He’s done some things outside the law, and the processes will kick in from there, so you’ve got to put that to the front of the conversation. That’ll play itself out,” King said on Fox Footy Live.

“The second part is just overwhelming sadness, really, that he’s in this situation. That the family has to go through this situation. It’s a hard one.

“I didn’t have any idea that he was at this stage, but you send the text, you know he’s going to get better eventually, you tell him you love him and you want to help him whenever he’s ready.

“I don’t want to get involved in where he’s been and this historical stuff. It’s just overwhelming sadness at this whole situation.”


with agencies