Laidley’s lifestyle an ‘open secret’ in AFL

 

Several former teammates and AFL stars have thrown their support behind North Melbourne premiership player Dean Laidley.

The 53-year-old was arrested on Saturday night after an alleged incident outside a home in St Kilda at around 9pm, police said in a statement.

The former Kangaroos coach was remanded in custody on stalking and other charges, and will remain in custody until his court appearance on May 11th.

Leaked photos show Laidley wearing a black dress and a blonde wig, while a second photo of a computer screen allegedly featured his official mug shot.

A Senior Constable has been stood down over the leaked photos, and may face up to two years jail and nearly $40,000 in fines.

Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph provided additional details about Laidley's recent activities on Monday, confirming a history of drug use.

"Some of his lifestyle choices have been known, they've been an open secret in the AFL for quite some time, potentially up to decades as well," Ralph said on AFL Tonight.

"But those who knew him well knew about his drug use and they despaired against their inability to try and get him into a rehab facility.

"He was still functioning. He was working as the Maribyrnong football club coach, had done it for two years in a row.

"He was heading to prisons, talking to prison wardens as a councillor there. He was trying to talk to the Coburg football club about an alignment, so he could get some of his players drafted into the VFL, but no-one expected this."

Dean Laidley at the AFL Victoria Community Championships.
Dean Laidley at the AFL Victoria Community Championships.

FORMER TEAMMATE'S 'OVERWHELMING SADNESS'

Former Essendon star Darren Berwick has known Laidley since childhood, and was "shocked" and "very sad" about the Western Australia representative's arrest.

"He was very driven and very good at what he did," Berwick told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Unfortunately, some people have to go through things to find out more about themselves."

North Melbourne great David King, who represented the Kangaroos alongside Laidley for several seasons, spoke about the "overwhelming sadness" for his former teammate's situation.

"He's done some things outside the law, and the processes will kick in from there, so you've got to put that to the front of the conversation. That'll play itself out," King said on Fox Footy Live.

"The second part is just overwhelming sadness, really, that he's in this situation. That the family has to go through this situation. It's a hard one.

"I didn't have any idea that he was at this stage, but you send the text, you know he's going to get better eventually, you tell him you love him and you want to help him whenever he's ready.

"I don't want to get involved in where he's been and this historical stuff. It's just overwhelming sadness at this whole situation."

King played 241 matches for the Kangaroos before his retirement in 2004. He played in the 1996 Grand Final victory alongside Laidley, and was later coached by the Kangaroos star for two seasons.

Dean Laidley played 99 games at North Melbourne.
Dean Laidley played 99 games at North Melbourne.

North Melbourne great Brent Harvey was also coached by Laidley, and hoped the wellbeing of everyone involved in the incident was being prioritised.

"It's obviously a really, really sensitive situation that we find ourselves in right now," Harvey told Fox Sports News on Monday.

"I think all I can say on it is I hope everybody involved in the whole situation, wellbeing is the number one thing.

"I don't know the ins and outs of anything else and it'd be unjust of me to make any further comment."

Corey McKernan was also one of Laidley's premiership teammates, and said many former players were concerned about his wellbeing.

"He is someone who played at North Melbourne and did an incredible job as an under-resourced coach during his tenure," McKernan told the Herald Sun.

"But he has lost his way and everyone is thinking of him and wants to see him get right."

Former North Melbourne player Mark Brayshaw, who is now the AFL Coaches Association chief executive, told the Herald Sun: "(Laidley's) issues haven't escaped our attention. We are in conversations with North Melbourne and the players association to try to work out the best way we can help him."

Ralph also reported the Kangaroos community are working to provide support for Laidley's family during this ordeal.

"The North Melbourne tight-knit community is rallying around the Laidley family tonight, as it is simultaneously reeling from this situation," Ralph said on AFL Tonight.

"A group led by Anthony Stevens … is trying to band together and work on some support mechanisms potentially to help the family."

Dean Laidley was an assistant coach for Carlton Football Club.
Dean Laidley was an assistant coach for Carlton Football Club.

LEAKED PHOTOS A 'BLOODY DISGRACE'

Legendary AFL defender Mick Malthouse coached Laidley during his stint at West Coast, and condemned those responsible for the leaked photos.

"I always found (Laidley) to be a fantastic bloke," Malthouse told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I'm really disappointed with the way it's been portrayed and the suspected leaks from the Victoria Police.

"That to me appears to be against regulations … the consequences have got to be applied."

Ricky Nixon, who claims to have managed Laidley for 15 years, posted on Twitter it was a "bloody disgrace" that photos were leaked.

Former AFL player Stephen Rowe grew up playing against Laidley in Western Australia and said sharing the photos was "a pig of a thing to do"

"Whatever he's going through no one should think taking his photo and posting it on social media is helping anyone," Rowey said on FIVEaa.

"Always a courageous player, gave his best, he was an absolutely demanding coach, those coached by him would say that.

"All my associations he was just a solid family man just like anyone. This scourge, this narcotic can destroy lives, families, country towns, and clubs. And if it's hitting that quality of person, fair dinkum, it's just a bloody sad story. I don't know what to say."

 

Originally published as Laidley's lifestyle an 'open secret' in AFL