“AFL Live” talks to former AFL player Daniel Ward about his gambling addiction

“AFL Live” talks to former AFL player Daniel Ward about his gambling addiction


COMPERE 1: Problem Gambling is a great supporter
of ours on AFL Live, and it’s affected a lot
of people of the years, Moons, and it’s been
well documented that some footballers have
been affected by that over the years. A gentleman
who’d played 136 games for Melbourne from
1998 to 2007 is one of those, Daniel Ward,
and Daniel’s been good enough to give us some
of his time on AFL Live.
Daniel, thanks for joining us.
DANIEL WARD: No worries, boys. How are you
going?
COMPERE 1: Yeah, we’re well. And we treat
this issue very seriously because, as you
know, we do have the support of Gamblers’
Help Online which really does a great job
supporting AFL Liveand getting the message
around Australia. And it is a period of your
life that you look back on and probably wish
that you could have changed it.
Can you just give us a bit of background as
to how it all started for you and how the
problem started?
DANIEL WARD: Yeah, and that’s why I sort of
get around in the football clubs and talk
about is how I sort of started from gambling
$5, $10, you know, with mates and just a bit
of enjoyment. Obviously AFL players in particular
can’t do a lot of the stuff that their mates
are doing, and how it sort of grew, what sort
of signs there were along the way.
And exactly like you said, if I could take
– you know, go back in time and change what
I went through, I would. But I can’t now and,
you know, one of the things of being involved
with these programs is to help people to make
those decisions so they don’t go down the
same path.
COMPERE 1: And I guess, Daniel, that’s one
of the hardest things, that when you start
living the lie, then it becomes really difficult
to get out of that and you start lying to
people in these circumstances and finding
ways to justify it.
DANIEL WARD: Yes.
COMPERE 1: If you can stop that process and
nip in the bud straight away, you’ve got a
lot more chance of being helped.
DANIEL WARD: Yeah, definitely. And look, when
we do these talks it’s by no means am I saying,
you know, no betting, no gambling. It’s like
I said, if you can control it and you’re honest
with your partner or whoever it may be about
how much you spent and all that type of stuff
and you set limits and you stick to that,
there’s no issue whatsoever. I’ve got, you
know, heaps of friends who gamble.
But for me, I couldn’t control it and that’s
when the dishonesty come into it, and borrowing
of money and all that type of stuff that,
you know, I’m sure there’s – well, I know
there’s a lot of people that go through those
things, and it’s just about, you know, putting
steps in place to help them and just let them
know that there is help out there for them.
COMPERE 2: Wardy, Moons here, mate. Thanks
for joining us, buddy.
DANIEL WARD: No worries, mate.
COMPERE 2: Just want to ask, when did – through
all this when it was going on, when did you
sit there and go, you know, I’m at my lowest
point?
DANIEL WARD: Oh mate, probably my lowest point
was – and I did a news – I’ve done a couple
of newspaper articles. But when, my lowest
point was sitting in an addiction clinic two
years ago – I’m two years clean tomorrow,
so two years ago now when I had to leave my
family, young family, and go to Adelaide for
a month and being there with other addicts,
drug addicts and alcoholics and the like.
And it was basically, you know, my bag was
searched and all that type of stuff for, you
know, making sure I didn’t bring anything
in that was going to harm anybody else in
the house.
And I was there for a month, and yeah, basically
just broke down, like, how did it get to that
stage. And that was my lowest – that was my
lowest part, mate, two years ago. And luckily
I spent the next month there and learnt so
much and it managed to turn my life around.
But you know, like I said, being two years
down the track, I’m still only one bet away
from being back down in the same position,
so…
COMPERE 2: Yeah…
DANIEL WARD: Go on, mate.
COMPERE 2: No, sorry, I was just going to
say, we know and Ox were great mates back
in the Demons days and we know about what
Ox went through as well. Do you guys still
keep in contact and was he a huge, like a
resource, I guess, for you when you were going
through all of this?
DANIEL WARD: Yeah, we still keep in contact.
And I suppose – and I still go to Gamblers
Anonymous meetings and the like, and I suppose
the link I have with Ox is that he understands.
And when I was at that lowest ebb, Ox was
one of the people that I went and spoke to
and, you know, how do I get out of it, I want
to stop, what do I do. And yeah, I’d actually
had enough and Ox was there for me.
And yeah, I do, I do keep in contact with
him, and that’s just that obviously he’s been
through it. But look, I take a little bit
out of what he’s done because it’s, you know,
stuff where he doesn’t go to Spring Carnival,
he doesn’t do any of it, he goes fishing for
two weeks or whatever. And you know, all the
stuff that he put in place about handling
of money.
A lot of people out there, you know, would
think that it’s, you know, crazy to have to
give receipts and – for $10 and $20. That’s
what my life was for – especially the first
year, and that’s where I had to get to because
I, as gambling addicts, or for me, I can’t
handle money. So I’m getting better at that,
but I definitely learned a lot off Ox in that
regard.
COMPERE 1: Wardy, speaking of Ox, I’ve read
his book, and it is a fascinating read, it’s
a frightening read. But one thing that kept
on coming back to me was the support of his
wife, Karen, and the fact that she was prepared
to forgive everything that he did. And your
partner, your wife Melanie, is very much in
the same boat. She’s been a tower of strength
for you in this regard.
DANIEL WARD: Yeah, yeah, very lucky, and we’re
both. And you know, Karen’s a ripper and,
you know, I’m very lucky I’ve got the same.
So no, Mel’s been, you know – two years ago
I basically got to the stage where I couldn’t
stop myself, and Mel, along with other members
of my family and friends, organised an intervention
to get me some help because I wasn’t strong
enough, if you like, to stop by myself.
And yeah, so she’s been an amazing support,
you know, all the way through that and then
obviously over the last two years, like I
said, since that two-year period life’s getting
better and, you know, we’re now – she’s seven
weeks away from having our second child. That
wouldn’t have been – I wouldn’t have been
– she wouldn’t have been able to trust me
to do that if I hadn’t cleaned my act up.
So yeah, I’m very lucky to have her.
COMPERE 2: And just what about footy, Wardy?
Are you still involved up near Swan Hill with,
is it Marley (*) Eagles, or Mallee Eagles.
DANIEL WARD: Mallee Eagles, yeah.
COMPERE 2: Mallee Eagles, how’s that all going,
bud?
DANIEL WARD: No, we’re not going great. We’re
two and six at the moment, second last on
the ladder. I can’t get on park. I keep rolling
my ankles and carrying a little bit of extra
weight these days, so I can’t…
COMPERE 2: Oh don’t worry, that happens to
the best of us, buddy.
DANIEL WARD: But yeah, no, I’m enjoying that.
I’m playing coach, so yeah, it’s – you know,
I don’t think I want to get into assistant
coach or anything like that. I just enjoy
having my own group and, you know, I enjoy
working with the young blokes there and watching
them come through colts and then to play senior
footy.
So yeah, I’m enjoying that…
COMPERE 2: Hey Wardy, just quickly, is it
being in that team environment, is that great
for you, just having that support of all the
boys in a football club?
DANIEL WARD: Yeah, I’m very lucky. Look, I
was playing there two years ago when I had
to take a month off. I basically – I had to
take a month off from everything, go to Adelaide,
so you know, they gave me a month off. And
then my employer – I worked for Konica Minolta,
and they were – I’d just started there and
they gave me a month off as well to go and
get some help and I’m still with them. So
I’m very lucky that I’ve had that support,
not just from family and friends but my employers
as well. So yeah, I’m very lucky.
COMPERE 1: Wardy, we really appreciate the
fact that you’ve taken the time and been so
open about what has happened. What you are
saying now will quite possibly be striking
a chord with someone listening to us on AFL
Live around Australia. What would you say
to that person or those persons if it does
seem familiar to them? What’s the first step?
What do they do from here?
DANIEL WARD: I think it’s just – I think it’s
just asking for help. I think people these
days are more understanding if people are
going through some issues but you’re willing
to put your hand up and say, look, I can’t
handle this, how do I – how do I get some
help. I think that’s the first step.
And the point you made before about being
honest, if you’re not honest with anyone else,
maybe just being honest with yourself.
COMPERE 1: Yeah.
DANIEL WARD: And that – with my addiction,
I probably thought it was too big and the
debt load and all that type of stuff, no one
would understand, I stuffed up again. All
that type of stuff goes through your head
where, you know, I can’t tell anyone. I think
it’s just that, like I said, people are more
and more understanding.
So you know, I can’t tell you how good the
last two years of my life have been and, you
know, I’m 34 now. You know, I wish I did stop
at 22, but I stopped at 32, so you know, I’ve
got a future to look forward to. And you know,
I’m the happiest I’ve been, so that’s what
I’d say.
COMPERE 1: That’s great to hear. Thanks for
your time, Daniel. We really appreciate the
fact you’ve taken the time to have a chat
to us. And the best of luck for impending
fatherhood coming up in a few weeks’ time
with you and Melanie.
DANIEL WARD: No worries. Thanks, boys.
COMPERE 1: Daniel Ward joining us who played
136 games for Melbourne from 1998 to 2007.
It’s a lesson it can happen to any of us.
COMPERE 2: It can. It’s quite scary how quickly
your life can just plummet.
INTERVIEW ENDS

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