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Victoria: comments on the scandal surrounding Wayne Carey, captain of North Melbourne Australian Rules team.

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It may not have been checked against the b roadcast or in any other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.


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7.30 Report


Thursday 14 March 2002


Victoria: comments on the scandal surrounding Wayne Carey, captain of North Melbourne Australian Rules team.


KERRY O'BRIEN: It's not often football and morality are mentioned in the same breath, which is not to say they're mutually exclusive.


But the scandal and drama surrounding the departure of Australian Rules legend Wayne Carey from his beloved Kangaroos team based in North Melbourne has left the game's followers quite simply stunned.


By general consensus, Carey is one of the greatest players in the history of Aussie Rules.


Just like Sydney's resurrected Rugby League Rabbitohs, the team Carey skippered is a working class club that has struggled for survival and he has been its bulwark.


Club supporters are devastated but the nature of his departure has also sparked a frenzy of discussion about public lives and private morality.


Mary Gearin reports.


MARY GEARIN: But last night the man dubbed the 'King' lost so much in every realm -- his career, his family, his team.


WAYNE CAREY, KANGAROOS CAPTAIN (LAST NIGHT, MELBOURNE): I regret the circumstances of my action which has led to the decision and the pain it has caused to my wife and my family.


I apologise to all my team-mates and all the Kangaroos supporters, however I believe this is the only proper and responsible course of action.


Thank you.


MARY GEARIN: The course you take when you're found at a party in the toilet with the wife of your vice-captain and best friend, an affair revealed, plunging the football world into sordid speculation.




I really do.


Like he'd be looking back at what he's done and sort of saying, 'I wish I never did that', and it will be there for the rest of his life.


It not only affects him, it affects a lot of people.


MARY GEARIN: How do you comprehend the enormity of Carey's fall from grace?


This was the kid with jaw-dropping athleticism, plucked from Wagga, who became one of the youngest ever AFL captains at 21.


He led the Kangaroos for nine years, taking them to two premierships, anointed their captain of the century, the first $1 million player in the game.


PETER KEENAN: Carey has always been the greatest footballer I think I've ever seen play.


MARY GEARIN: The news reverberated from the club's Arden Street headquarters around north Melbourne through to the airwaves.


RADIO TALKBACK CALLER: I'd just like to say that I think Wayne Carey has gotten away with far too much over the years just because he can kick a bit of pig skin around.


FEMALE KANGAROOS FAN 1: Really it's not the right thing to do to your team-mate.


FEMALE KANGAROOS FAN 2: And the club's not just one player.


MALE FAN: When a leading player lets down his own family, then that's a hurt that we all have to bear.


MARY GEARIN: Even the team's number 1 ticket holder took time out before question time for the big questions of the day.


SIMON CREAN, OPPOSITION LEADER: Well, obviously the behaviour is inexcusable and by his own standards he's accepted that.


So I think that that's an example in itself that even with players at their peak, even with indispensables, you can't bend the rules.


PATRICK SMITH, THE AUSTRALIAN COLUMNIST: The key to this is not a club rule has been broken, not a club code of conduct has been broken.


What has been broken or shattered is a bond between grown men who go into battle every weekend and put their limbs and their lives really on line.


And they can do that because they believe utterly in each other and they believe utterly in and trust in each other.


MARY GEARIN: Patrick Smith's columns, like those of many, will continue to reflect on what this scandal has revealed about the chemistry of a football team, where the top players make every rule.


PATRICK SMITH: If the captain of a club was involved -- had a relationship with the girlfriend of a rookie player, would the consequences be of great as they have been in this case?


I would think not because this circumstance involves the core players, the top five or six players, the coach relies on them and they're pivotal to the club, pivotal to the team.


Now, if that breaks down, then the club breaks down.


PETER KEENAN: If it had been the cleaner's wife at North Melbourne that Wayne had an affair with, they would have got the cleaner in and said: 'Look, we've done the right thing by you, she wasn't good enough for you and Wayne has exposed her and we'll keep this quiet'.


MARY GEARIN: Certainly the club stood by Carey six years ago when he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a woman outside a nightclub.


Today, the club emphasised it was Carey's decision to quit.


He was not without his sympathisers.


BETTINA ARNDT, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: If he's getting attacked for the damage it's doing to the team, surely the wife of the vice-captain also has some responsibility towards the team and should be aware of the fact that she too was jeopardising the careers of her husband and of her lover.


MARY GEARIN: Hundreds of fans came to training this afternoon knowing full well this moral crisis will have a financial sting.


The club has lost $2 million in two years and losing Carey means losing an estimated $3 million more in sponsorship, corporate and public support.


PATRICK SMITH: I think the club is on the brink.


There's no doubt about that.


I think it needs to get AFL help.


It needs a round membership of 25,000 to break even, to make any sort of profit, currently it's about 10 to 12.


You would think that this is not going to help a membership drive.


MARY GEARIN: And as for the cuckolded vice-captain, in one of the most poignant appearances of the season, Anthony Stevens led his team out to training.


BETTINA ARNDT: I think that this public situation of course is particularly difficult because there's such an element of public humiliation involved.


MARY GEARIN: For once in football, no-one was talking about winners.