Past player - Ben Cousins (1996-2007)

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Miguel Sanchez

A punter
Aug 10, 2006
40,707
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Shandong Gold Stadium
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Ben Cousins

Nickname: Cuz

DOB: 30/6/78

Height: 179cm

Weight: 78 kg

Playing number: 35 (1996 – 1997), 9 (1998 – 2007)

Arrived: As a father-son selection in the 1995 national draft, from East Fremantle

Debut: Round 4, 1996 vs Geelong – 100th Eagles player.

Games: 238

Goals: 205

Won: Premiership medal in 2006
Brownlow Medal in 2005.
All-Australian in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006.
Club Champion in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005.
AFL Rising Star in 1996.
AFL Goal of the Year in 1999.
Team 20 selection in 2006.

Departed: Delisted at the end of the 2007 season.

The son of former Geelong and Perth player Bryan Cousins, before he had even graduated from Wesley College Ben was the subject of intense competition between West Coast, Fremantle and Geelong, all of who had the ability to sign him as a father-son selection. History will show that Cousins chose West Coast and went on to become a great of the club, before spiralling into drug addiction and destroying his Eagles career.

Cousins was made to wait until round 4 of his rookie season to make his debut, but had an immediate impact with 2 goals and remained in the side for the rest of the season. Used mainly as a clever small forward, with occasional midfield stints, Cousins kicked 34 goals in 20 games including a five-goal haul against St Kilda that earned him a Rising Star nomination. He ultimately won the Rising Star, the first (and so far only) Eagle to do so, although he was somehow pipped for the West Coast Rookie of the Year award by Andrew Donnelly.

Despite missing a string of games with an ankle injury, Cousins continued to improve on the field in 1997 as well as gaining in popularity. In 1998, now almost a full-time midfielder, he earned the first of many All-Australian selections and finished runner-up in the Club Champion award. Cousins backed that up in 1999 with a third-place finish and his second All-Australian jumper. The silky-skilled centreman began to forge his reputation as an elite runner, picking up a large chunk of his possessions in the final quarter of games as opponents began to tire.

In 2000 he finished fourth in the best and fairest despite playing just 17 games. After playing his 100th game in the final round of 2000, Cousins was appointed co-captain alongside veteran Dean Kemp for the 2001 season. Cousins was virtually the sole shining light in a horror 2001, winning the Club Champion award in a landslide, finishing fifth in the Brownlow Medal and being selected in the All-Australian team for a third time.

With Kemp’s injury-enforced retirement, Cousins became the sole skipper in 2002 and led the side back to the finals, assisted by young midfielders Daniel Kerr and Chris Judd. He was rewarded with a second Club Champion medal and yet another All-Australian jumper.

Despite another ankle injury in 2003 Cousins won a third straight best and fairest, again leading the team to the finals where he kicked 3 goals in the loss to Adelaide. A back injury kept him out of the side for most of the second half of 2004, but he was able to return in time for the elimination final.

In 2005, Cousins had possibly the best season of his career. He made his 200th AFL appearance, kicking 4 goals and earning maximum Brownlow votes in a big win over Brisbane at Subiaco. He went on to win the Brownlow by a single vote ahead of Kerr, before later that week captaining the club to its first Grand Final since the 1994 flag. While Cousins wasn’t able to add a premiership medal to his overflowing trophy cabinet (well, not yet), he did add a fourth Club Champion award and a fifth All-Australian selection (as vice-captain).

2006 started disastrously when news emerged during the pre-season that Cousins had done a bolt from a booze bus while returning home from a friend’s wedding. Although his only charge was obstructing traffic, he was stripped of the captaincy following the incident. Despite the off-field turmoil, he continued to perform to the usual lofty standards on the field. Cousins was again picked as an All-Australian, finished third in the Club Champion and as the side’s “spiritual leader” was welcomed onto the dais alongside new captain Chris Judd to hold up the 2006 Premiership cup.


As shown above.​

If he thought his 2006 preseason was controversial, 2007 blew it away. The club announced in March that Cousins was suspended indefinitely, with it later being revealed (to the surprise of no-one) that he had a substance abuse problem. After a lengthy absence from the game including a much-publicised trip to California to attend a rehab clinic, Cousins returned to the lineup late in the season against grand final opponents Sydney. As a near-capacity crowd applauded what he had overcome, Cousins picked up 38 touches to show he had lost none of his on-field class. After playing six games in the run-in to the finals, disaster struck in the qualifying final against Port as Cousins ripped a hammy. The image of a distraught Cousins hobbling down the race at Football Park remains the last picture of him as an Eagle, as with Judd and Kerr also missing the following week the Eagles went down to Collingwood in extra time and fell out of the finals in straight sets. In October, just days after acting as a pallbearer at the funeral of Chris Mainwaring, Cousins was pulled over in Northbridge and arrested for drug possession. Although the charges were eventually dropped, Cousins was sacked by the club and subsequently deregistered for 12 months by the AFL.

After spending 2008 out of football, Cousins announced a desire to return to the AFL when his ban expired. Several clubs, notably Collingwood and St Kilda, expressed an interest but backtracked after doing their due diligence. At the last minute, Richmond rolled the dice on him, taking the troubled midfielder with the final pick in the pre-season draft. Cousins played 32 games in two seasons for Richmond before retiring, managing generally to stay out of trouble and earning plaudits during his time at Tigerland for his willingness to mentor his young teammates.

While his off-field issues mean he will always be a polarising figure, Cousins’ on-field record speaks for itself. Despite his West Coast career being cut short, he remains in the club’s top 10 in both games played and goals scored. His four Club Champion awards equals Glen Jakovich’s record, and his six All-Australian selections places him among the very elite of modern-day players.
 
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Lenny316

Team Captain
Dec 5, 2013
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I think his best years were 2000 and 2001. When the team was down and out. He stood up every week and played some amazing football.
 

UpForGrabs

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 23, 2006
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Gun.

An awesome, over-powering gun who was full of what made the great footballers great.

Ultimately though he was and still is a saddening figure.

Will always be a "what if" and I hope with all the hope I can muster that the final years of his football career aren't echoed in the rest of his life. He has far too much to offer footballers who aspire to be even half as great as he was.
 
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Matera92

Brownlow Medallist
Jun 9, 2009
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Champion,Gun,Elite whichever superlative you want to use, he lived up to.

A true on field leader who dragged his teammates over the line time and time again.

His ability to impose himself on a game remains second to none as a WC player as far as I'm concerned.

One of the all time greats.
 

Eagle87

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Aug 21, 2005
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Great player.
Third quarter, prelim, Football Park, 2006.
He willed himself to every contest, completely imposed himself on the game.
Absolute gun. One of the first picked in our all time greatest side...
 

jaxxon

Club Legend
Aug 12, 2007
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It's a shame, I always thought he would be our first player to 300 games. Would have gone close if he didn't go off the rails. Our best player in my mind.
 

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Keys

Looking for a cloud to yell at
Oct 11, 2006
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Gun. Watching that midfield of ours through 2005-07 was a thing of beauty and it is a footballing tragedy that injury robbed us of our best team come the finals in 2007. A full strength eagles going head to head with that Geelong side would have been a real contest

The unravelling of cousins footballing career and life due to his drug addiction was second only to the death of mainy as the saddest eagles supporting moment I've had
 

nameless

Brownlow Medallist
Feb 17, 2006
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Cousins

Our top 5 mids (not in any order) Cousins sits comfortably in that group, and for many - myself included - he is the top.

Brought another level to training and dedication to the game, achieved just about everything there is to achieve on the field and left no doubt that he loved the game, the team and success.
A role model on the field, produced excellent performances even when the team was on the ropes, the mark of a great player to be consistently excellent for a very long time.
As with many, injury (and other things) cut his career short, but still will always be remembered as the best gut runner West Coast have ever had.
 

matt_bas

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 7, 2007
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My favorite player of all time! Absolute gun, inspired me to get fit enough to our run my opponents in soccer. Wish he was still with us.
 

TheLoungeLizard

The world's most handsome man
Oct 21, 2010
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One of my favourite players still, and now there is a Ben thread may I ask when did this board or the general public first notice his off field issues?

Being younger and in Melbourne I don't recall the rumors.
 

greatwhiteshark

Brownlow Medallist
Oct 3, 2007
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Greatest Eagle ever as a player in my view. As a member and supporter I expect only one thing from our players. To be the best player they can be. He delivered like no other.
His off field antics have far greater effect on others than they do me. He was a footballer and nothing more to me, what he did in his own time had no impact or any relevance to me.
Superstar its that simple. Go along way to see a better midfielder than Cuz, Maybe Ablett is better but he sits comfortably with Judd, Voss, Buckley, etc.
 

JCHolmes

Team Captain
Nov 30, 2013
525
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My favorite player of all time! Absolute gun, inspired me to get fit enough to our run my opponents in soccer. Wish he was still with us.
Are you serious? Exactly what I based my soccer around for a few years there, just run and run and run. Your comment definitely echoed with me. Eventually you will get out what you put in. I mean the guy played (at his peak) like no other I have ever seen. A frenetic insatiable work rate that bordered on insanity. Inside and outside. A lasting memory of him was that left foot kick in the 3rd quarter of that 2006 prelim. Full pace, on the left, 55 metre pass onto Hunters chest. I remember thinking wtf even for his standards.
 

Natho

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 16, 2009
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Fave player of all time.
the guy could do anything on the field, inspirational leader, freak, best work ethic I've ever witnessed. Just amazing to watch. Still find it impossible to believe all the off field issues with drugs and what not. Just that golden boy imagine is what I remember him by.

It pains me to think his amazing football knockledge my never be shared because of his drug issues and clubs not willing to give him an opportunity to coach/mentor.
 

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