We tried. God we tried. But in the end Crikey couldn’t ignore the all-consuming hype surrounding the return to AFL football of Ben Cousins.

Clearly in the AFL heartland of Melbourne the biggest story this week was not Rudd’s trip to Washington. Nor was it economic doom and gloom. It was the number 32 for Richmond and what was shaping up as the opening AFL season blockbuster to end all block busters — prized recruit Ben Cousins and his revitalized Tigers versus former West Coast Eagles teammate Chris Judd and his resurgent Carlton.

When Richmond drafted Ben Cousins last year it was always going to be a big story. The pin up boy and former Brownlow Medallist, the “spiritual” leader of the once mighty West Coast, his public fall from grace and subsequent drug rehabilitation is a movie in the making. However, this week saw the Cousinsmania step up a gear.

The media coverage afforded Cousins this week has been sensational. Our friends at Media Monitors have recorded the mentions of Cousins in the nations’ press over the past week, and they are staggering:

Press Radio TV Internet TOTAL
Ben Cousins






We’ve even constructed a “Benoworm” charting the Cousins media coverage over the past few weeks — which reached its crescendo in the past few days:

The Melbourne media’s appetite for all thinks Cousins has been astounding. Both The Age and the Herald Sun have boosted Cousins’ return and Cousins v. Judd at every opportunity:

And despite his request for privacy, Cousins has entered Melbourne’s media fray with gusto — writing for the Herald Sun today and working for Nova radio.

So with all this is it any wonder that last night’s game attracted a near record crowd of 86,972? And is it any wonder that Richmond’s membership numbers are well up? Is all this good for the game? The bean counters at Richmond, the AFL and the MCG certainly would.

Lets compare the TV audiences for last year’s opening round versus this year’s opening round:

Round 1
Carlton vs Richmond (Thursday Night 10)
Melbourne: 466,000
Brisbane: 32,000
Perth: 141,000
Adelaide: 119,000

Round 1
Carlton vs Richmond (Thursday Night 10)
Melbourne: 709,000
Perth: 183,000
Adelaide: 144,000

Up nearly 250,000 in Melbourne. Up over 40,000 in Perth.

And so what happened in the game? Well Richmond got thumped, and Cousins tore his hamstring in the last quarter and will miss three to four weeks. A lot of doom and gloom now for Richmond supporters and no Ben Cousins for the next month. The Age even quoted Kipling on the front cover of its sports section:

But Cousins will be back — and so will an adoring media.