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Plying his trade at the turn of the millennium, in what to the untrained eye looks the almost lawless world of the Australian Football League (AFL), Victoria-born full-forward, Brendan Fevola, is regarded by many as a genuine great of the sport. And that’s in spite of everything that has subsequently happened off the field.
Writer: Andy Afford - as printed in Pitch Issue No.3
Born January 20, 1981, this son of an Italian lacrosse-playing father, won the Coleman Medal as the league’s leading goalkicker in 2006 and 2009 when playing for Melbourne club Carlton Blues (187 appearances). He latterly went on to play for the Brisbane Lions (17 games), as well as picking up three caps as an All-Australian selection.
However, it was Fevola’s life away from the footy oval that has provided more grubber kicks than high spirals, with his indiscretions and infidelities including some pretty low blows. The lowest of which being the leaking of nude photos of model Lara Bingle – the then fiancée of Australian cricketer, Michael Clarke – with whom the six foot three inch AFL star was said to have embarked on a whirlwind five-week extramarital affair.
From here on, the rap sheet reads equally untidily. Fined $10,000 by Carlton when caught peeing out of a restaurant window. Another $8000 debit being accrued when involved in the attempted theft of jackets from a North Melbourne dry cleaners. Throw in a week-long suspension from the sport after an incident at Brisbane’s Crown Casino. Plus a solo flight home from tour in Ireland with the Australian International Rules team, when he assaulted a barman.
Said to be a problem gambler, ‘Fev’ once burnt his way through $365,000 in a day-long losing spree on the gee gees. With his betting addiction culminating in his entering rehab when losses reportedly topped a million dollars and suicide contemplated.
Further ‘inappropriate behaviour’ at the 2009 Brownlow Medal Count saw him fined and banned from appearing on TV’s Grand Final Footy Show. As a direct consequence Fevola withdrew from the traditional lap of honour by the Coleman Medallist at the upcoming AFL Grand Final, as well as sidestepping Carlton's club awards night. The incident saw him traded to the Brisbane Lions, as well as not returning as a TV panellist on The Footy Show in 2010.
In September of the same year it was announced that Queensland police had launched a formal investigation into claims that ‘The Shag’ had flashed a woman when in a Brisbane park. New Year’s Day of 2011 saw Fevola arrested on charges of public nuisance and obstructing police. Upon which the Brisbane Lions granted him indefinite leave before terminating his playing contract on medical advice.
A divorce in 2014 was followed in 2016 by a very public reconciliation with estranged wife, Alex Cheatham. The pair’s re-engagement playing out when ‘The Fevolution’ emerged as Australia’s King of the Jungle after winning that year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here.
Infamous for selling his Coleman Medal to fuel his addictive personality, the former AFL star is now a popular radio presenter. Where as recent as November 2022 on-air co-host, Fifi Box (in collaboration with his long-suffering wife), revealed that over the course of the preceding 12 months Fevola had played video game Call of Duty for precisely 2772 hours. Working out as an average of seven hours and 36 minutes of shoot-em-up action per day.
In 2022 the 41-year-old father to four daughters began appearing in commercials for online gambling company, Bet Nation. His habit, by his own admission, now confined to ‘entertainment’ and no longer a means of ‘escape’.
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