The Ben Cousins story has done for sports columns what Princess Diana’s death did for trashy women’s magazines. The only difference is that the Cousins saga doesn’t have the same degree of finality to it. Let’s hope they have plenty of positive things to write about him, as he begins his career as a Richmond Tiger.
It’s been great to see the energy that this has brought to the Tiger fans. As usual, the e-mails and texts have been bouncing around, with many Richmond supporters suggesting to the board, the football department, and anyone else who will listen, what they should do with Ben Cousins. The good news is that within the club itself, we do have plenty of talented board members, managers, and sports administrators, and as fans, we must now let them do the job they have been appointed to do.
Cousins comes with baggage; everyone acknowledges that. Several clubs have put him in the “too hard” basket. Equally, he has done the crime, and done the time (plus some). Most everyone deserves a second (but who’s counting?) chance, and all would agree that the path to Cousins’ redemption as an individual and a professional sportsman is a return to on-field success.
This will definitely pose some challenges for the club, particularly with respect to leadership and organizational culture. Few has considered how the players feel about this. What message does it send to them? Cousins will need to earn his place in the team on his merits, not his reputation. There will be far more public scrutiny of the club over the next few years, and expectations have now gone through the roof. This is yet another thing to be managed.
I for one, trust that the club is aware of these things, and walk into this with eyes wide open. It seems that Kevin Sheedy has been the internal champion of the Cousins cause, and he is experienced enough to know what must (and must not) be done, and influential enough to make that happen.
There are just 100 sleeps until Round 1, 2009. I can’t wait to see, feel and be part of the exitement of a full MCG, Cousins vs Judd in the midfield, as the most exciting and talked about midfield in the game (Foley, Cotchin, hopefully a healthy Coughlan, and plenty more) steamroll Carlton and make it very clear which of the power Victorian clubs is next to rise. GO TIGERS!!