Australian Football

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Key Facts

Full name
Benjamin Luke Cousins

Known as
Ben Cousins

Nickname
Cuz

Born
30 June 1978 (age 44)

Place of birth
Geelong, VIC (3220)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 296d
Last game: 32y 60d

Height and weight
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 78 kg

Senior clubs
East Fremantle; West Coast; Australia; Richmond

Jumper numbers
West Coast: 35, 9
Richmond: 32

Recruited from
East Fremantle (1996); West Coast (2009)

State of origin
VIC

Family links
Bryan Cousins (Father)

Ben Cousins

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
East FremantleWASFL1995-199610151.50
West CoastAFL1996-20072382050.8656%13.189.343.47141
AustraliaIR1999100.00
RichmondAFL2009-201032120.3828%9.6913.253.447
WASFL1995-199610151.50
AFL1996-2007, 2009-20102702170.8053%12.779.803.46148
IR1999100.00
Total1995-2007, 2009-20102812320.83

AFL: 10,689th player to appear, 167th most games played, 352nd most goals kickedWest Coast: 100th player to appear, 15th most games played, 12th most goals kickedRichmond: 1,080th player to appear, 411th most games played, 371st most goals kicked

A sad consequence of a modern world in which mainstream media is hungry for “scandal”, is that some fine footballers are better remembered for their off-field activities rather than their on-field accomplishments. Ben Cousins is unfortunately one such player. However, if one focuses solely on what Cousins achieved on the field – including a Brownlow Medal, Most Valuable Player, six All Australian caps, captaincy and a premiership medallion – then he stands firmly as one of the greats of the modern era.

The son of Bryan Cousins, who played 238 games for Perth and 67 for Geelong in his own distinguished career, Ben Cousins made his debut for West Coast in round 4, 1996 and had an immediate impact. He had 14 possessions and kicked two goals and became a permanent fixture of the team from that moment, going on to win that year’s AFL Rising Star award.

A midfielder with consummate skills by foot and hand, and with the capacity to run all day, Cousins was also extremely damaging when going forward and was a regular goalkicker, particularly in his early seasons with the Eagles. Along with Dean Cox in the ruck and Daniel Kerr and Chris Judd alongside of him, Cousins formed an omnipotent on-ball combination that saw the Eagles make finals in 2002, 2003 and 2004 before taking the next step to a Grand Final in 2005 and achieve premiership glory in 2006, when West Cost pipped Sydney by one point, with Cousins kicking two crucial goals in the match.

At the time of his premiership success, Cousins had played 231 games and, at 28 years of age, looked to have many more ahead of him. However, by the stage, he had already been involved in a number of off-field incidents and was beginning to frustrate the West Coast hierarchy, to the point where he received a club suspension that saw him miss the first 15 rounds of the 2007 season. On his return, Cousins put on a football clinic, gathering an amazing 38 touches as the Eagles defeated Sydney by 12 points.

Cousins played out the remainder of the season but in October of that year he was arrested for drug possession and suspended for 12 months by the AFL for bringing the game into disrepute. At the completion of that suspension, Cousins made an attempt to revive his career with Richmond. His 32 games with the Tigers over two seasons included some fine games but injury prevented him from recapturing the sustained brilliance of his time at the Eagles and he retired at the end of 2010, with 270 AFL matches and a trophy cabinet to rival the very best in the game's history. It is for those achievements he should be most remembered.

Author - Andrew Gigacz

Sources

Encyclopedia of Australian Footballers, Wikipedia

Footnotes

* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.