Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : VFL            Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

VFA LEGEND FRED COOK

TALKS DRUGS

and Ben Cousins

Written by Phil Cleary and published in the Melbourne Age - 25 March 2007

 

Unlike Ben Cousins, former Port Melbourne VFA goal-kicking champion Fred Cook never played in an AFL grand final or won a Brownlow Medal. Nor did he have his drug addiction trawled over in the national media. However, like Cousins he was a football hero when amphetamines ravaged his life in the late 80s. Now he has some strong but compassionate words for Cousins.

The words date back twenty years to the night his mate Sam Newman arrived at the City Watch House to bail him out. ‘Why don’t you apply the same principles that made you a champion footballer to your private life?’ said Newman, with a shake of the head. Although Cook’s addiction to amphetamines meant the words were lost on him, he believes it’s the only way forward for Cousins. ‘Ben doesn’t need hangers-on or blokes blaming his girlfriend. He needs some friends who are prepared to be brutal about his life,’ he says.

For Cook the magic of amphetamines came from a world not foreign to one Ben Cousins inhabits. ‘Try this,’ notorious criminal Dennis Allen had said when Cook complained of a cold, midway through 1984 in the pub he owned a few kilometers from the Port Melbourne ground. In Allen’s hand was a bag of white powder, which he pierced with a knife before placing some of the contents in Cook’s Bacardi and Coke. ‘How good’s this, I thought?’ The cold disappeared and I could go all night, especially with women,’ he remembers.

Cook in his prime in 1982. Within three years he was a different man..

 

Married four times, Fred Cook is an old style fifty-nine-year-old, who enjoys rattling off stories about his conquests. The stories might be embellished but there’s no doubt he lived every day, often in the company of celebrities, football stars and women, as if it was his last. The names of football identities with whom he shared amphetamines and the horrible stories of his time with Allen are regaled with the naivety of a boy who has yet to truly grow up. ‘Allen was a big time crook and rapist, and I have no time for rapists. But living on the edge with people who carried guns and tried to beat the cops, and washing Allen’s drug money through the pub was so dangerous it was genuinely exciting,’ he says.

For all his sins, there’s nothing sanctimonious about Fred Cooks assessment of Ben Cousins’ predicament. ‘He’s living on the edge. I’ve been there and know how exciting it can be. But seeing pictures of him on TV it’s obvious his brain is scrambled. All the rehabilitation in the world is useless unless he genuinely wants to get off the amphetamines. Maybe when people start to ostracise him and the money dries up he’ll find a way’.

For Cook the cash started to dry up when the amphetamines led him to neglect the pub and squander money, hundreds of thousands of it, he says, on bad business decisions. By the late ‘80s petty criminality had become a way of life and jail a formality. In 1992, when I was the federal member for Wills, I visited Cook in Pentridge where he was doing time for drug related crimes. How could a man of such fame throw it all away, I thought?

Ask any football lover over the age of forty about the 1976 VFA grand final and the name Fred Cook will burst from the lips. Only Dermott Brereton’s courage in the 1989 VFA/VFL grand final compares with what Cook did that day at the Junction Oval in front of 30 000 people and a huge television audience. Bleeding from deep cuts to the mouth and seriously hurt after being king-hit by Dandenong full-back, Allen Harper, Cook went on to kick five goals and stamp himself as a genuine Victorian football hero. This was a man who survived a heart attack in 1972 to play in six VFA premierships - 1974/76/77/80/81/82 - in an era when VFA stars were better known than scores of VFL/AFL footballers, and at 29 years of age turned his back on a return to VFL/AFL football with the premiers, North Melbourne. Cook was a football god.

Although he has lived to tell his story, is working and says he’s freed himself from amphetamines, Fred Cook says he doesn’t know where Ben Cousins will be in a year’s time. ‘No amount of preaching will solve his problems. He has to dig deep, really deep, because being on amphetamines can be fantastic. Your problems disappear. Your injuries disappear and you never get tired. Then one day it all falls apart. It’s very sad.’ Yes indeed, Fred, it is!

 

Looking for drug addiction help

http://www.howtohelpadrugaddict.com

 


 
 

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