Former AFL player David Schwarz is a prominent guest speaker courtesy of the addiction which earned him a nomination for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Manase Fainu is the most recent recipient.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
Schwarz now consults with clubs and the AFL on gambling addiction, which crippled him during and after his own playing career.
So severe was his addiction that he is known as the AFL’s most prominent reformed gambler. He believes the problem is even worse now, so we can expect to see many more AFL players nominated for Frownlow honours.
Schwarz told multiple media outlets that gambling threatened to damage his life. He once lost $20,000 in 20 minutes playing the pokies, and subsequently lost friends and a house. He retired retired from the AFL in 2002 virtually penniless.
“I couldn’t tell you much about the games I played but I could tell you who won the 1996 Cox Plate, and that’s disgraceful. I can remember arriving at the Melbourne footy club and everyone gambled, from the head coach right down to the boot studder,” he said.
“I organised the footy trips and we went to Las Vegas.”
“I remember one year we went to Thailand and I was spewing because there wasn’t a casino, but we found the dogs and cockfights and bet on those.”
The former Melbourne Demon, nicknamed the Ox, concedes he was out of control, and that his last bet was on May 3, 2005. It was made from his garage, during son’s christening, and he lost $1000.
Schwarz believes problem gambling and addiction among current players is the biggest issue in football right now at all levels.
Despite his well-known addiction, he followed other disgraced footy greats, like Wayne Carey, into the Frownlow family and into a commentary position.