Opportunity lost: How Chris Yarran let the dream slip away

Chris Yarran in 2014. Photo: Getty
Chris Yarran in 2014. Photo: Getty

AS a footy player Chris Yarran always looked as though he had options.

Now, for the next three years at least, he has none.

The 28-year-old was sentenced this morning to five years in prisonĀ for a drug-fuelled crime spree across Perth in November last year, during which he assaulted a policeman and tried to steal his gun.

Fallen AFL star jailed for meth-fuelled crime spree

Chris Yarran. Photo: Getty

Yarran joins a long list of footballers who struggled under the intense pressure of life in the AFL bubble.

Taken by Carlton with pick six in the 2008 AFL Draft, one of the best talent pools of the past 20 years, Yarran should be at his absolute zenith now.

Instead he is a cautionary tale, facing the task of reinventing himself upon his release, rebuilding a life laced with regret about opportunities that knocked but will knock no more.

Yarran had the world at his two supremely skillful feet.

Nobody who saw him in full flight will forget him: that unique gait as he left tacklers in his wake, the one-handed pick-ups, the eyes always up, scanning the field like a sniper looking for his next target.

Yarran moved across the country as a painfully shy 18-year-old, ensconced in a VFL foundation club, an inner-city juggernaut desperate for success.

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Chris Yarran in his Carlton days. Photo: Getty

Sean Gorman, an academic and chronicler of Australian rules football’s Indigenous heritage, said Yarran’s journey was not unique.

“There’s been a long history of West Australians and Aboriginal players going to Carlton and playing,” he said.

“The expectation was there, he was a blue-chip player.

“He grew up on Bushby Street (in Midvale), where (Nic) Naitanui, Sonny (Michael) Walters and Chris grew up.

“And Chris had the most potential – but he was the quietest.

“His father was in jail, jailed for a long period of time.”

Yarran visited his father Malcolm in prison the day after he was drafted in 2008, before he moved across the country to begin a new life.

He settled in with a host family in Melbourne’s inner north, not far from Carlton’s Princes Park base.

“The situation Chris found himself in at Carlton was one of absolute joy and professionalism,” Gorman said.

“He was the gun half-back.

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Yarran with former girlfriend Michelle Trewartha at the 2014 Brownlow Medal. Photo: Getty

“Obviously something went wrong.

“Over time the pressures mounted and at some point he gave in to other temptations.”

Yarran left Carlton in 2015.

He moved to Richmond but never played a game for the club and he departed in 2017, citing mental health issues.

In a video in 2017, Yarran revealed he had been addicted to meth.

In 2017 Yarran revealed his addiction to meth.

This morning he was sentenced for an ice-fuelled rampage across the city. He will be eligible for parole in less than three years.

“It’s a terrible situation for his mother, for his ex-teammates,” Gorman said.

“It’s a great disappointment and sadness for the general Noongar community of Perth, for the football community across Australia.

“What we have to now learn, like Shane Yarran’s story, like young Dayle Garlett’s story, we can’t let this keep happening.

“We have to recognise the signs earlier.

“We’ve got to start getting better, more holistic and smarter around the way that these young men are treated.”

So what next for Chris Yarran?

“Best case scenario is that he stays alive,” Gorman said.

“Best case scenario is that he gets off the drugs and proves to himself that he can do it.”