Wayne Carey was a supremely-talented footballer who's off-field behaviour and character flaws saw him brought down like a modern, shabby Shakespearean tragedy. In this next instalment in the Speccy Profile series, we examine the life and times of Wayne Carey as more evidence for our case that being good at footy does not make you a good human being.
No one would deny that Wayne Carey in his heyday was like the Mike Tyson of Aussie Rules football: fast, strong, aggressive and blighted with a curiously high-pitched voice. He was born in Wagga Wagga in 1971 and began his footy career in South Australia before being picked up by North Melbourne. (Although hailing from NSW, Wayne was allowed to represent South Australia in the State of Origin on the grounds that, as King of the Westies, Adelaide was his spiritual home.) His family background suggests a genetic talent for football - despite one leg being longer than the other - and being a prick, with his nephew Kade Carey attracting all the wrong sort of attention.
Wayne played for the Kangaroos for most of career and despite being quite dim managed to rise to the rank of captain and secure a number of honours including club Best and Fairest and captaincy of the All-Australian team. (This hardly reflects well on the honours, does it?) His arrogance and abrasiveness meant that field umpires withheld crucial votes, ensuring he never won the game's highest honour, the Brownlow Medal.
Gormless Rooboy Caught in the Headlights
Off-field, he was involved in the usual pub brawling and fighting associated with footballers. He also seemed strangely well-connected to Melbourne's underworld, giving character evidence at the trial of one high-profile (later slain) hitman, drug dealer and gangster (Melbourne Crime's dossier on Wayne makes for interesting reading.)
But it was with the ladies that Wayne Carey had the most problems. The first incident that saw him cop a high-profile guilty plea was back in 1996:
The assault occurred when Carey and a group of friends were walking down King Street after a night out [at 9am]. They approached the woman, who was with a female friend. Carey grabbed her breast and said, "Why don't you get a bigger set of tits?".
Carey's two footballer friends argued: "That sort of thing happens a hundred times a night in a night club. I'm not saying I condone it but ... I've seen how blokes act with women." The article later stated that the general view amongst Carey's colleagues was that he had been victimised by the media because he is a high profile football star.(Green Left Weekly, 19/2/1996)
Thanks to that special brand of justice reserved by Melbourne's magistrates for star footballers, he managed to avoid a sentence, or even a conviction! We can't help but wonder if this signal - that he can sexually assault women in broad daylight and get away with it - might not have contributed to what was to follow.
In March 2002, it became apparent to his club that Wayne was carrying on an affair with Kelli Stevens, the wife of his team-mate Anthony Stevens. Lurid rumours circulated that the pair were caught having sex in the toilets (a "dunny shag" in the vernacular) at a mutual friend's birthday party. Wayne was keen to set the record straight:
"No, there was definitely no sex in the toilet. The situation was in front of 120 people. I went to the toilet and, in front of all those people, Kelli walked in after me in front of her husband, in front of everyone there. Anthony waited for her to come out, which was a few seconds later, and the night was ended." (The Sydney Morning Herald, 28/12/2002)
At this point, the Roo Boys staged what amounted to a mutiny: either Carey (club captain) was out, or the team wouldn't take to the field. Management relented, and just like that, Wayne's career was over. He went from earning a reported $1.5 million dollars a year to being "on suicide watch" (as his manager, Ricky Nixon, famously stated) home at Wagga Wagga. The saga played out in the nations tabloids for months. Wayne, his wife Sally, Anthony and Kelli Stevens all helped boost circulation figures for various women's magazines with their contributions.
After this, Wayne tried (unsuccessfully) to re-launch his career in North America as a punter in the NFL. He mooched around for the rest of the year and signed up with the Adelaide Crows. Things didn't work out, and he only played 27 games for his new club. No doubt his new-found team-mates weren't thrilled at the prospect of having such a man in their midst. They came up with some sort of line about injuries and bundled him out of the game for good. The sad sack that he is, Wayne pathetically did free "volunteer" work at various clubs, fetching towels and the like, just to be near the action. Now his girly voice graces a little-watched football show on pay TV, providing monosyllabic sound bites (known as "special comments" in the trade).
It's difficult to convey the impact of the Carey-Stevens affair on the Melbourne psyche. It was the story of the year. As one talkback caller put it: "September 11th last year ... and now this." It was simply that big a deal. (Not sleeping around, mind you; but doing so with a team-mate's wife.) Wayne became "The Slogger from Wagga" (because of his predilicition for slogging it to other people's wives). He is still the butt of many jokes and remains a favourite target of cartoonists. Which is probably why many were not surprised at one comes next.
Almost unbelievably, Sally Carey put aside the shame, humiliation and advice from everyone and agreed to take the philandering Wayne back. What's more, they started a family. However, Wayne's true colours shone through when rumours of more infidelity were confirmed. Wayne admitted that his marriage was over while his wife was heavily-pregnant with their first child:
Carey confirmed the split in a statement yesterday as reports continued to surface about his friendship with model Kate Neilson, 24.
She and Carey live only minutes apart in Port Melbourne and have been seen visiting each other's homes. Carey went public on his marriage split yesterday after his father-in-law warned him to stay away.
A smiling Carey, 34, shrugged off the turmoil as he arrived in Darwin yesterday. The former Roos champion laughed off a warning by his father-in-law Terry McMahon that he would be "going out in a box" if he visited Mr McMahon's Wagga Wagga home where Sally was staying.
"It's all funny," Carey said. "Don't worry about it." (Herald-Sun, 24/6/2006)
Kate Neilson (pictured below) is what's known as a "Grid Girl". This means her job is to promote motorsports by appealing sexually to bogans. So good is she at making bogans aroused that she won a national competition - and attention from Wayne "The Bogan King" Carey.
What sort of a man gropes a woman in broad daylight and insults her for not pleasing him visually? What sort of a man shags his team-mate's wife? What sort of a man hangs out with killers and drug-dealers? What sort of a man cheats on his heavily-pregnant wife with bleached-blonde bogan-bait?
One of the greatest Aussie Rules Footballers ever, that's who. A washed up, hollow, balding failure of a human being at 34. A man remembered for the staggering price he paid for believing that he could do whatever he want. Truly, Wayne Carey is the quintessential footballer.
BREAKING NEWS: Reports are coming in that last night (Sunday) Wayne Carey was "maced" by police after they were called to a domestic disturbance at his Port Melbourne apartment. Details are sketchy, but The Age quotes a neighbour "It was Wayne all right. Look, I'm not gonna give too much away, but Wayne was in handcuffs and had been maced." The Hun reports that "Police took him to St Kilda police station about 8.30pm."
It appears at this stage that Carey called police to remove his girlfriend, Kate Neilson (pictured working as "grid girl" above). Police stated that a second woman was present, but no details yet to the sequence of arrivals to Carey's place.
It's too early to judge at this stage, since we don't yet know the ins and outs of it all. Recent events show that being capsicum sprayed by Victorian police does not necessarily mean one is extremely violent. Even accounting for "his rather magnanimously (sic) huge size", in the (somewhat unfortunate) words of Senior Constable Wilson.
We'll keep you posted as the story develops.
As promised, the gory details of Wayne Carey's Port Melbourne incident (including security footage), shock revelations of last year's Miami incident and breaking news of drug allegations at Carey's celebrity party are all covered in the write-up.
Wikipedia article on Wayne Carey's career.
Melbourne Crime - Dossier on Wayne Carey
"Kangaroo Caught" (Bulletin, 20/3/2002)
"The Media and Women's Rights" (Green Left Weekly, 19/2/1996)
"The Carey Affair" (Sydney Morning Herald, 28/12/2002)
Wayne Carey Jokes
Wayne Carey Cartoons
"Wayne Carey: It's Over With Wife Sally" (Herald-Sun, 24/2/2006)
"Wayne Carey Retires" (7.30 Report, 24/6/2004)
"Young Talent In The Ranks" (AFL Player Spectator, 25/01/2005)
"Footy Thugs Cop Soft Sentence" (AFL Player Spectator, 13/2/2006)
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