A happy and healthy-looking Ben Cousins made his first appearance at a Brownlow Medal ceremony in Melbourne in 18 years on Monday night - and he brought his sister along with him. Cousins has been getting his life back on track in the last few years after a staggering fall from grace since his retirement from the AFL.
The former West Coast Eagles captain has battled drug addiction and spent a number of stints behind bars, but appears to have turned a corner. He recently landed a job reading the morning sport headlines on Channel 7 in Perth, and was in attendance at the Brownlow Medal ceremony at Crown Palladium in Melbourne on Monday night.
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Cousins attended the 2021 Brownlow ceremony, but that was held in Perth. Monday night's appearance marked the first time in a whopping 18 years that he was at a Brownlow in Melbourne - when he won the medal in 2005.
In a touching move, he brought sister Melanie as his partner for the night. “I’m somebody that hasn’t been given a second chance. I’ve been given a third, fourth and fifth for whatever reason. But that’s what it’s taken," Cousins told The Australian on Monday ahead of his Brownlow attendance. “I want to make sure that other people in that sort of position are going to get the same understanding I do and the same help along the way I did."
Speaking about his new role on Channel 7, Cousins said: "I know I’m starting from a long way back but I needed to feel like I was making a contribution. Once I was released (from prison), I wasn’t quite at the stage where I felt I was in a position to get back into full-time work, so I connected with a community football club, just training a couple times a week over the summer...It was football for me that was a constant. I enjoy having a kick and it was that which got me back involved in the community. It played a really important part in my recovery.”
Cousins was one of the AFL's top midfielders during the height of his career and played a crucial role in West Coast's premiership triumph in 2006. He played 238 games for the Eagles, but off-field troubles cost him the captaincy in early 2006 and he was sacked by the club after the 2007 season. He returned to the AFL in 2009 and played 32 games for Richmond before he retired at the end of 2010.
He made his return to the footy field in 2021, playing for Queens Park in the Perth Metro Football League. He also worked in an assistant coaching role with WAFL side Perth Demons.
A triumphant return to the Brownlow red carpet.
Ben Cousins is back!
He looks happy and healthy. And very dapper. pic.twitter.com/B5aEZDTJWx
— Rhiannon Elizabeth Irons (@Ahlephia) September 25, 2023
Good to see Ben looking so healthy. Well done champ!
— Mel215 (@HDFatSlim) September 25, 2023
Knew he would be a standout. He certainly looks good and his sister looks awesome. Onya Benny boy 💙💛
— 💫CeeGee (@Georg_ie_C) September 25, 2023
Great to see a legend Bounce Back Brownlow Medal 2023: West Coast Eagles great Ben Cousins hits the red carpet in Melbourne https://t.co/UkRNWGIAIk
— Sasha Ristovski (@7326Sasha) September 25, 2023
Onya Benny… takes courage to do what you have done and continue to try and do. Well done!
— lil_miss_freo (@LilFreo) September 25, 2023
Ah Ben Cousins. So glad to see you back at the Brownlow. Respect. 💕
— H_the_Cricketlady 🏏 (@Cricket_Nuffy_H) September 25, 2023
Lachie Neale wins Brownlow Medal
Cousins watched on as Brisbane superstar Lachie Neale won his second Brownlow Medal. The 30-year-old, who also won the medal in 2020, polled 31 votes to win ahead of Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli (29) and Collingwood young gun Nick Daicos (28).
Neale stormed home with three-vote games in the final two rounds of the regular season, becoming the first two-time winner since former Fremantle teammate Nat Fyfe in 2015 and 2019. Neale is just the 16th player to win multiple Brownlow Medals, and also became the first player to win the top gong without being named in the All-Australian team since former West Coast midfielder Matt Priddis in 2014.
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