Justin Kremmer 2 April 2008

By Justin Kremmer LAST night on ABC's Enough Rope a portrayal of a different Wayne Carey known to the common eye surfaced. Many people know Carey as the AFL superstar-turned-accused woman basher and police assaulter, but speaking to interviewer Andrew Denton some new 'truths' of his childhood and upbringing unfolded.


Carey's father Kevin; a violent, excessive alcohol-drinker, described by Carey as a "hard man", had put in place some hard rules for his four children. Kevin Carey disallowed them from bringing friends to their Wagga Wagga home. Together the Carey children worked for a team, the Carey's. They had no other choice. After Kevin and his wife, Lyn, had separated, Carey's older sister, Karen, heroically took on the responsibility of the maternal-type role. "We would always have food on the table, always had clothes on back always got to school, but yeah he was hard," Carey told Denton on the show. Everyone did their part and together they got by. Karen cooked, washed and cleaned for the family including their father, sister Sharon and Dick Carey, the eldest child, who has a ten year gap between him and brother Wayne. Carey's leadership skills were formed early as a teenager having to complete various tasks. These included gathering and chopping wood and walking the greyhounds each day. Life was a struggle in those early days but they pushed through it.

Nowadays, Carey is an individual. He stands alone in the view of the Herald Sun's footy expert Mike Sheahan and many other minds as being the best player to have ever pulled on the boots in a 150 year history of Australian football. He was twice a premiership captain for North Melbourne and is the club's greatest ever player, and was once the greatest role model. Carey will confront his demons alone in court in Miami, Florida in the coming months. 'The King' faces a maximum 15 year jail sentence over charges of assaulting police. It is a remarkably immense fall from grace.

After so many years of getting everything he wanted, Carey's proven he can merely look after himself. Right now, he chooses not to buy groceries down the street as it means he would have to face the public. Not because he's concerned about what the people who used to pay to watch him play would say to him, although it would cause an eruption, Carey is too ashamed with himself. A long list of foolish and selfish acts have cost Carey many things in life and this time he is still yet to discover the measure of his latest errors. He wants to fix himself, fix his alcohol problems and occasional drug-taking, and become a good father to Ella, who is the real love of his life. So scared is Carey, he is pondering leaving the country and Ella, his family and friends behind to escape the daily pain and reflection. That's what it's come to. The continuous worry and stress is too much for his family, particularly his siblings and ex-wife Sally, who are yet to give up on their scarred loved one. He is at the crossroads in a relationship with model Kate Neilson, currently undertaking her own counselling for personal issues. Carey has undoubtedly followed many of his father's traits and weaknesses. "Obviously mum had a fear of her husband, our father, and she chose to stay away," Carey said of his father last night. Alcohol and drugs must be eliminated from the equation first in order for Carey to change destiny and not follow the footsteps of his father. Lately, his most loyal friends and fans from his football days have turned against him.

Though there were some shades of the premiership champion, whose on-field dominance at centre-half-forward was either loved or hated, but simply unstoppable, Carey's well-known arrogance was somewhat existent in the Denton interview but nowhere near its full capacity. Carey has gone days without eating simply as he would rather go without it than feel shame by walking the streets. For not the first time, he has been catastrophically criticised by the media for his foolish actions, when in 2002 he quit playing for North Melbourne and football in general, due to the speculation he had slept with Kelli Stevens. He was embarrassed and damaged when his private life became public. Carey put to rest that claim, denying there was intercourse saying the action that publicly disgraced his identity began through Stevens' initiative, and definitely not by him. If true, it was following on from it that was the first true mistake Carey should have learned from.

Under the microscope, Wayne Carey talked about his partying days as a footballer and gave a clear hint to the television viewers that alcoholism is his major hurdle in his life. He conceded that drinking up to 20 to 30 beers commonly after matches during his career may mean he is an alcoholic; perhaps even during his playing days in the mid to late '90s he was a star footballer with a serious drinking disorder. It seems a timeline of making poor decisions, showing aggressive and rude behaviour has a common denominator; alcohol. When Carey grabbed a woman's breast in public in 1995, he admitted to being drunk off his face. In fact, he did not remember the incident and apologised at the time without knowing if he had done anything wrong. The truth is, in admitting this, it makes it difficult to believe another word Carey swears is the truth when alcohol is present.

A thoughtless decision by Carey that did not involve any alcohol or drugs was when he was a character witness for deceased underworld figure Jason Moran. Carey was not a friend to Moran, according to him, and was unaware of the details of Moran's conviction, yet he testified for him. Clearly, Carey lacks awareness and has poor judgment in dealing with serious situations, such as these.

An affair with his vice-captain Anthony Stevens' wife, Kelli, was an alcohol related incident. Carey does not blame alcohol but he admits both Kelli and he had had too much to drink. He takes responsibility for the actions that occurred in Glenn Archer's bathroom that night, however he swears it was entirely Kelli's intent when she followed him to the toilet. "It was Kelli Stevens' actions on that night that caused all the problems," he said. The reason he pursued it was because there had been some sexual tension between the pair, he told Denton.

The latest saga and the two most profound incidents, still yet to be dealt with, are the two charges Carey faces in Australia and the United States. These must not be taken lightly by Carey or anyone. The charges in Melbourne came as a result of him being on a two and a half day 'bender' or binge with Kate. He had a drug, cocaine, in his system to help him stay awake, while he consumed alcohol constantly. Carey had roughly two hours' sleep when he called the police drug and alcohol fuelled state. Police arrived minutes later to Carey's Port Melbourne penthouse and an altercation occurred between the officers and Carey at the front door of the apartment. The simple explanation for Carey's aggression in this instance was alcohol and drugs, but it's no excuse, Carey clarified last night to Denton. It was later well documented Carey was subdued by capsicum spray after assaulting the Melbourne police. Carey walking hand-cuffed and guarded by the police into an elevator and the treatment to his eyes with a glass of water was captured on CCTV vision.

Only after this latest incident in Melbourne did the footy world learn of a shocking discovery that Carey had been involved in something similar in Miami, Florida. It was an almost identical situation. There had been another drug and alcohol binge between Carey and his girlfriend in a hotel room, previous to the latest. This time Neilson dialled 911 saying she had been cut on her lip from a broken wine glass by her boyfriend. Carey talked down the wine glass incident with Denton, calling it a bit of fun that got out of hand. He admitted that his intention was to pour wine onto Neilson and said it was an act of stupidity. The real stupidity came afterwards when he assaulted Miami police. This was the first drunk violent attack on police but not the last. He denies kicking them, despite also admitting he was prone to losing two hour memory chunks when he drank heavily. Carey sounded confused when gathering his recollections of the night. Denton's face said it all.

Carey lost contracts with Channel Nine, on shows The Sunday Footy Show and Footy Classified, while a 3AW contract he says he would not renew did not give him the option, and sacked him. New Idea is still yet to support Carey's story, which is that he did not get paid for his exclusive photo and story with Neilson. In that story, Neilson and Carey's volatility as a couple was described. It was later reported that New Idea paid Carey and his girlfriend $180,000 but Carey denied that rumour last night.

His rough upbringing may show he has integrity and a will to want to move on in life. The situation is new and unique, and has caused a lot of emotion, pain, sweat and tears. After the Kelli Stevens affair, it was safe to say Carey had somewhat successfully moved forward in life with roles in the media keeping him busy. Now, he has no work but a massive job to complete. On his side, he has time and family members who are willing to persist with him to the nth degree.

For Wayne Carey to re-create a sense of the image he once portrayed to the nation is impossible. The tapes of his talent will forever showcase the enormity of ability he had at the top level of the sport. Some may say it would be sad to see a former hero of the AFL locked up behind bars in the harshness of American-style prison, but this is Wayne Carey, a troubled alcoholic and confessed drug-taker. If it is not jail, Carey somehow needs to see the effect of his wrongdoings in the past. It is up to the Miami court to determine whether or not he deserves a sentence but for the Wagga child who experienced the struggles of hard life and the riches of fame and celebrity, to find along the way alcohol, aggressiveness towards women, drugs and volatile relationships. From the outlook, it is a sad place he is in.



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