(born 27 May 1971) is a former Australian rules football
player who played for North Adelaide
in the SANFL
, before joining Australian Football League
club North Melbourne
in 1989. He also played with the Adelaide Crows
. A dual Premiership Captain at North Melbourne, four time club best and fairest
and seven time All Australian
, Carey, nicknamed "The King", is generally considered to be one of greatest players to have ever played Australian Football. In 2001 he was named as Centre half forward
and captain of North Melbourne's Team of the Century and in 2008 Wayne Carey was named as Australian Football's greatest ever player as part of a list of the top 50 players of all time, published in the book 'The Australian Game of Football', which was released by the AFL
to celebrate 150 years of Australian Football.
Off the field, Carey has been involved in several highly-publicised scandals, both as a player and since retiring.
Carey grew up in Wagga Wagga
, a city in southern New South Wales
regarded as the frontier dividing "Aussie rules" territory with that of rugby league
. Carey started playing football at age 8 and, in his early teens, moved to Adelaide
, where he played junior football for North Adelaide
The North Melbourne Kangaroos
In 1987, Carey was picked up by North Melbourne after a series of events which would have left the Sydney Swans' recruiting staff slightly red-faced in hindsight. That year, North Melbourne club CEO Greg Miller met with Sydney
's football department to discuss the transfer to North Melbourne Football Club of John Longmire
, already an established key position player. Once that deal concluded, Miller then enquired about Carey. He made a token offer of $10,000 as transfer fee, to which the Swans surprisingly agreed. As a 16 year old, Carey made the move to Melbourne and played for the North Melbourne under 19s, where he starred in their 1988 premiership side, coached by Denis Pagan. Carey was promoted to the senior list the following year and made his first appearance for the North Melbourne seniors as an 18 year old in round 11 of 1989
. North won the game and Carey amassed 3 marks and 7 disposals.
Pre Captaincy (1989 – 1992)
After playing just four games for a mediocre return in his debut year, Carey burst onto the scene in 1990
as a goal kicking Centre Half Forward and perfect support to Full Forward and fellow New South Welshman, John Longmire (who was that year's Coleman Medallist
as the league's leading goal kicker). Carey immediately drew the attention of the football world and built a reputation early in his career as an aggressive, big marking and long kicking key position player. That year, Carey would represent New South Wales
in State of Origin
football and finish the 1990 season as runner up in North Melbourne's best and fairest, behind Longmire. In round 13, a then 19 year old Carey took 8 marks, had 22 disposals and kicked 7 goals in a big win over Sydney. It was the first of many times Carey would dominate up forward for North. In 21 games in 1990 Carey averaged 5 marks, 14 disposals and 1.8 goals.
started very promisingly for Carey and after 8 games he was averaging 7 marks, 16 disposals and 2.4 goals. Injury, however, forced him to sit out 8 games in the middle of the season and he struggled to regain form when he returned for the last 5 rounds. In his 14 games that year, Carey averaged 6 marks, 13 disposal and 2.0 goals.
After a solid and consistent opening to the 1992
, season, it was in the latter half of that year that Carey first showed signs that he was destined for greatness. It began with a best on ground performance for South Australia
in their State of Origin win over Victoria
. Carey, playing at centre half forward alongside and against some of the game's greatest, took the game apart in the last quarter taking some big marks and kicking long goals from outside 50 metres. He followed this game with a string of outstanding performances to close the season out. By season's end Carey was dominating Centre Half Forward like no one else in the league. He finished the year with an impressive 7 goal performance against Fitzroy and averaged 10 marks, 20 disposals and 3.3 goals during North Melbourne's the last 8 games. For the season, he averaged 7 marks, 18 disposals and 2.2 goals per game. He claimed his first club best and fairest and was named club captain by new coach Denis Pagan ahead of the 1993 season.
Captaincy (1993 – 2001)
As captain, Carey led North Melbourne to the finals for eight consecutive years from 1993 to 2000. This streak included seven straight preliminary finals, three Grand Finals and two Premierships (1996 and 1999).
During this eight year period, Carey played 170 games, averaged 8 marks and 19 disposals per game and kicked 524 goals at 3.1 per game. He won three further club best and fairests, was a five time club leading goal kicker, All Australian Centre Half Forward seven times, including four times as captain and once as vice-captain, and he was named MVP by the Players' Association twice, in 1995 and 1998.
Carey was criticised widely for both his on and off field behaviour. On the field he was reported three times and suspended twice for a total of five weeks in 1994, and off the field a charge of sexual assault in 1996 put a damper on his otherwise stellar form. Bookies had Carey as pre-count favourite for the Brownlow Medal on four separate occasions (1993, 1995, 1996 and 1998), but many believe his on field arrogance and backchat to umpires were the primary reason he never claimed the game's highest individual honor.
, at age 21, Carey was the second youngest club captain in VFL/AFL history, and the added responsibility appeared to lift him. Carey kicked five or more goals on five separate occasions that year and consistently won games off his own boot, including a game against reigning premiers the West Coast Eagles
at the WACA
in round 12, where he cut All Australian and Hall of Fame Centre half back Glen Jakovich
to shreds and then against the year's premiers in Essendon in round 15, playing a dominant final quarter that marked him as an out-and-out champion that belied his relatively youthful age. At the end of the 1993 Home and Away season, Carey became the first, and so far only, player in VFL/AFL history to average more that 20 disposals and three goals per game over an entire season, averaging 20.5 disposals and 3.6 goals in his 18 regular season games. That year, Carey would become the youngest ever All-Australian captain at 22 years of age and finished third in the Brownlow Medal count, after being outright favorite to take out the prestigious award. But for the freakish efforts of Gary Ablett
that season, many experts had Carey as the games best player.
The following year Carey appeared to have improved again. After round 6 of the 1994
season, Carey was averaging 12 marks, 21 disposals and 4.8 goals per game. This included a 17 mark, 26 disposal, 7 goal performance against Hawthorn
, 13 marks, 21 disposals and 6 goals against Footscray
and a 15 mark, 21 disposal, 5 goal demolition of arch rival, Glen Jakovich and the West Coast Eagles. Carey's mid season suspensions subdued him somewhat, before he turned it on again to dominate in the finals with two of the all time great individual finals performances.
In the Qualifying Final against Hawthorn, Carey kicked the last goal of the final quarter to level the score and force the game into extra time. Carey then kicked the goal to seal the win during extra time and earn North Melbourne a week break before the Preliminary Final. He finished the game with 10 marks, 32 disposals and 4 goals in an inspiring performance. Two weeks later Carey was irrepressible in the Preliminary Final against Geelong. With North down by four goals at half time, it was Carey's four third quarter goals that kept them in the game. He played a lone hand up forward with 14 marks, 24 disposals and 6 goals, to once again have the scores level at full time, before Geelong won by a goal, kicked after the final siren by Gary Ablett. Carey's finals performances were made more impressive by the fact that he played both games with a torn calf muscle. For the season Carey he averaged 9 marks, 19 disposals and 3.3 goals per game.
During the first two years of Carey's captaincy at North Melbourne the Kangaroos registered an impressive 25 wins from the 35 home and away games in which Carey played. In contrast, they lost all but one of the seven games in which he was absent during the same period. Such was the influence that Carey had on games in which he played, and so much did the Kangaroos struggle in his absence that, in mid 1994, the phenomenon was given a name - 'No Carey, no North'.
After leading North Melbourne to the Ansett Cup
Premiership in the pre-season, Carey's reputation as the games number one player continued to grow in 1995
. By mid season, he was an unbackable favorite to take out the Brownlow Medal as he dominated games like none before him. Over nine games, from rounds 6 to 14, Carey averaged 11 marks, 22 disposals and 3.8 goals per game in a brilliant run of form. In round seven, he registered a career high 33 disposals against Fitzroy. His best games of the year, however, came later in the season, both against Premiership contenders Richmond
. The first was in a come-from-behind last quarter win in round 19, and then four weeks later in a Qualifying Final win - Carey's third dominant finals game in succession. In both games Carey kicked five goals and had 25 and 22 disposals respectively. The season ended on a sour note for Carey, being well held by Jakovich in the Semi Final and then Full back of the Century Stephen Silvagni
in the Preliminary Final, where North Melbourne went down to eventual Premiers Carlton
. For the season, Carey averaged 7 marks, 18 disposals and 2.6 goals per game, led the league in marks and contested marks and took out a host of individual awards from the media and Players' Association
as the seasons best player.
Carey was all but unanimously considered the best player in the AFL. He became known as a master of the pack mark and the long goal. Few players in the game have ever dominated in the air or kicked as many goals from beyond the 50 meter arc as Carey in the 1990s. He again led the league in marks and contested marks and kicked a career high 82 goals in 1996, one of his most consistent seasons. He kicked a career high 11 goals against Melbourne
in Round 17 - a game in which he also tallied 15 marks, 31 disposals and 3 tackles - and followed it up in the next game with 27 disposals and 7 goals against Hawthorn. North went on to win the 1996 premiership
, with Carey again a stand out in all three finals games, including the Grand Final against Sydney
. He averaged 11 marks, 23 disposals and 2.3 goals during the finals and 8 marks, 19 disposals and 3.3 goals for the season. Carey won his third best and fairest award in 1996, but finished runner up to team mate Corey McKernan
in the Players' Association MVP award.
Early in round one of 1997
Carey dislocated his left shoulder and missed much of the season. Upon his return in round 13, Carey spent much of the remainder of the Home and Away season at Centre Half Back. There was some concern as to whether he would regain top form as he struggled with mobility through the injured shoulder. As North entered the finals campaign, Carey assumed his customary Centre Half Forward position and re-established himself as the games pre-eminent player in a Qualifying Final against Geelong. In a low scoring game, played in very wet conditions, Carey was dominant with 10 marks and 23 disposals. He also kicked 7 goals and created two others, in of a team total of 11 goals. It was a performance that Mike Sheahan
named Carey's best in the book 'The Australian Game of Football', released in 2008.
Prior to round one of the 1998
season, Carey booted six second half goals in the Ansett Cup Grand Final against St Kilda
, earning himself the Michael Tuck Medal
, as the best on ground in the pre-season Grand Final, and issuing an ominous warning to the rest of the competition that he was over his injury woes of the previous year.
In one of his greatest seasons, Carey hit arguably the best form of his career in 1998 as he led North Melbourne on a club record 11 game winning streak. During the streak he averaged 8 marks, 21 disposals and 4.3 goals per game and registered 20 or more disposals and 5 or more goals on six separate occasions. Coach Denis Pagan designed the team's offence around Carey, instructing other forwards to make space and draw their direct opponents well away from the goals to make space for Carey, a tactic which became known as "Pagan's Paddock. In round 15, Carey demolished St Kilda with 14 marks, 26 disposals and 6 goals and the following week, five first half goals against West Coast, including one of the goals of the year in the second quarter, saw Glen Jakovich taken to the bench. His form continued the next week when he kicked 8 goals against Melbourne and then in the final three rounds of the season, Fremantle, Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs had no answers to limit his influence and he was completely dominant in each game, kicking 8, 5 and 4 goals respectively and taking contested marks at will, all around the ground. In the first round of the finals, North Melbourne faced Essendon who were treated with similar disregard, as Carey again booted five goals and collected 24 disposals. The winning streak ended on Grand Final day with a loss to Adelaide. For the season, Carey averaged 8 marks, 20 disposals and 3.2 goals per game. He again led the league in marks and contested marks and was runner up in the league goal kicking race behind Tony Lockett, with 80 goals. Carey once again won almost every individual award on offer at season's end, with the noticeable exception of the Brownlow.
Carey missed five games early in 1999
through injury, and spent much of the year in the forward line closer to goals. He averaged a career high 3.8 goals per game for the season, to go with 7 marks and 18 disposals, in another premiership
year for the Kangaroos. In round 8, Carey's first game back from injury, he kicked 7 goals against Hawthorn
. He then kicked 9 goals against Geelong
in Round 16 (after kicking 8 in the first half), followed it up the next week with a 10 goal, 12 mark and 24 disposal performance in a losing side against Essendon
and in the wet in a Qualifying Final against Port Adelaide
had 11 marks, 24 disposals and 6 goals in one of his greatest finals performances. Matched up against Carlton's Stephen Silvagni in the Grand Final, Carey played a slightly unfamiliar role. After marking and kicking North Melbourne's opening goal in the first quarter he was moved to the midfield after half time, where he gathered the most disposals afield in the third quarter, and was the catalyst in a dominant quarter for North. He then returned to the forward line in the final term to take a spectacular one handed mark and kick the final goal of the game.
By season 2000
, Carey had firmly established himself in the minds of most as the greatest player of the modern era and greatest Centre Half Forward ever to play the game. Stints at Centre half back and in the midfield that year had him notch consecutive 30-plus possession games and add yet another dimension to his game. In an incredible run of form over 6 games between rounds 4 and 10, Carey averaged 12 marks, 27 disposals and 3.5 goals per game, playing in a variety of positions. In round 14 against Brisbane
Carey became the only player in league history to record 5 plus goals and 20 plus disposals in a game for the 30th time in his career. Three weeks later in round 17 against Melbourne, he repeated the feat for the 31st time - a record that no other player has yet come close to. Towards the end of 2000 Carey began to suffer heavily from the debilitating groin condition Osteitis pubis
and his form subsequently slumped. For the season he averaged 8 marks, 18 disposals and 3.0 goals.
Going into 2001
, his 13th season at North Melbourne and 9th as captain, Carey struggled to maintain consistent form as he battled various injuries. The physical nature of his play throughout his career began to take it's toll on Carey's body, particularly his back, neck and shoulders and he was not able to string more than 5 games together at any point during the season. In round 21, after playing 14 games and kicking 35 goals that year, Wayne Carey played what would end up being his last game for the North Melbourne Football Club.
Carey vs. Jakovich
Throughout much of the 1990s Glen Jakovich
was regarded as the premier Center half back in the AFL, and his battles with Carey were a talking point and a season highlight whenever the Eagles and Kangaroos met. Jakovich was one of the very few players who could match Carey for strength in a one-on-one contest and as a result he was often able to limit Carey's dominance. Statistically, Jakovich held Carey to fewer disposals and goals than any other player could consistently manage. They played against each other 16 times, first meeting in round 12 of 1992 and last in round 15 of 2001, with Carey being held to averages of 6 marks, 15 disposals and 2.0 goals per game. These are great statistics for any other Centre half forward, however by comparison, in the 174 games Carey played against all other opponents between their first and last encounter, he averaged 8 marks, 19 disposals and 3.1 goals per game.
Extramarital affair and leaving North Melbourne
In March 2002 Carey had an extramarital affair with then-best-friend North Melbourne stalwart and Vice Captain Anthony Stevens
's wife, Kelli. Carey and Stevens were attending a party at team mate Glenn Archer
's house. Carey is quoted as saying Kelli followed him into the toilets, in front of a large crowd including her husband Stevens. An argument ensued between Carey and Stevens and both subsequently failed to attend football training. In the face of his team being united against him, as well as nationwide condemnation, Carey resigned in disgrace from North Melbourne. Carey's then manager Ricky Nixon
famously stated that his client was on "suicide watch" during the aftermath. To avoid media attention Carey fled to Las Vegas
. Carey's management later denied speculation that he had trained with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys
Re-emergence at Adelaide (2003 – 2004)
For some time, it was unclear whether Carey would return to AFL football, but after the end of the 2002
season and a 12 month absence from football, Carey was signed up by the Adelaide Crows, where he played for the next two seasons. While age and injury forced him out of 18 games over the two years and prevented him from dominating as he once did, he still managed to place second in the team's goal kicking both years and put in a number of memorable performances. His best performance in the Adelaide colours came a week before his 33rd birthday, in round 8 of the 2004
season. He took 9 marks, had 17 disposals and kicked 6 goals, out of a team total of 12, in a heavy loss to Essendon
. Two weeks later, Carey's fourth goal against Hawthorn was one of the goals of the season. Taking a contested mark on the wing, Carey played on, having three bounces and shrugging of a tackle as he ran inside the forward 50. He gave off a handball to teammate Tyson Edwards
, who in turn gave the ball back to Carey deep in the forward pocket. Carey's left foot snap for goal was a highlight in a big win for the Crows.
Two weeks later, in June 2004, Carey was forced to retire with a disc-related neck injury, marking the end of a career that spanned 16 seasons, 272 games, and included 727 goals.
Carey - The Best Ever?
Wayne Carey has been lauded by various sections of the footy world, including football guru Mike Sheahan, as the greatest ever footballer to play the game. In 1999, Leigh Matthews
, who was voted the greatest player of the 20th century, honoured Carey by saying that he was the best player he'd ever seen. In 2008, Nathan Buckley
, arguably Collingwood's
greatest player, labelled Wayne Carey as the best footballer he'd witnessed in the past twenty years.
In early 2005, Carey agreed to assist former coach and mentor Denis Pagan at the Carlton Football Club
, acting voluntarily as a part-time skills coach. In 2006 he was an assistant coach at Collingwood Football Club
. Carey also worked as a commentator and host of shows on the Fox Footy Channel
throughout the 2006 season.
In 2007 he participated in the Nine Network football analysis program Footy Classified, as well as special comments for radio station 3AW's football coverage. Subsequent to his dual arrests for domestic violence and assault he was sacked for both positions.
On 12 August 2007, Carey sparked more controversy while, as a member of the Nine Network's Sunday morning Footy Show, he responded to criticisms from Nathan Thompson by mocking Thompson's well-publicised bout with major depression. In addition, on returning from a commercial break, he was heard to make references to 'necking himself', to the apparent delight of other members of the Footy Show panel. Carey and the Nine Network were quick to issue an apology over the incident, although no mention was officially made of the 'necking himself' comment.
Private life, arrests and drug abuse
In 1996 Carey pleaded guilty to indecent assault after grabbing a passing woman's breast on a Melbourne city street after 12 hours of drinking with team mates. Carey later settled out of court when the woman filed a civil suit against him.
In 2004, while holidaying with his then wife, Carey was subject to arrest for a misdemeanour battery report while holidaying in Las Vegas. He was placed in custody for one night then released. The local District Attorney elected not to pursue the case
Carey again became the subject of public comment in February 2006 when he announced he was leaving his pregnant wife Sally for model Kate Neilson. His daughter Ella was born six weeks later.
US security guard Kyle Banks has told the Nine Network's A Current Affair he saw Carey attacking his girlfriend Kate Neilson while working at the exclusive W Hotel in New York City in October 2006. Banks said he saw Carey break a bottle of French champagne over his own head.
In December 2006 girlfriend Kate Neilson allegedly reported Carey to Australian police for domestic violence, allegeding he had punched her in the face. Neilson and Carey subsequently denied this report.
On 27 January 2008 Carey was arrested after reports of a disturbance at his Port Melbourne apartment. Police had to subdue Carey with capsicum spray and he was seen hand-cuffed after allegedly assaulting the officers.
Two days later, it was revealed that Carey had been arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and his then girlfriend Kate Neilson in Miami, Florida on 27 October 2007, after he allegedly struck Neilsen in the face and neck with a wine glass. Miami Police Lieutenant Bill Schwartz reported:
When officers went and spoke to him, he immediately was belligerent, starting striking out at the officers, in fact, kicked one of the officers in the face with his foot, elbowed another one in the side of the face. They had to wrestle him down and handcuff him. When he was in the police car, he used his head as a battering ram and tried to smash a hole between the front compartment of the police car and the prisoner compartment.:
To stop Carey harming himself and damaging the car, the officers put him into a leather hobble restraint around his hands and legs.
Carey is to appear in a Florida court on these charges in February 2008, and faces up to fifteen years in jail and $30,000 USD fines. Additionally Carey was fired from commentary jobs at 3AW and the Nine Network following the coverage of the two arrests.
On 16 March, 2008 it was revealed that Wayne Carey has and has had for a long period, a drug addiction to cocaine. Carey has admitted that he has a cocaine dependence and is in drug rehabilitation. On March 31, 2008 Carey appeared on interview show Enough Rope, where he talked candidly about his life and recent controversies. 1.5 million viewers tuned into the highly publicized interview.