Ben Harrison came to AFL football after playing in the Tasmanian Teal Cup Under-18 side and being selected in the Under-18 All-Australian team. In 1992, he was drafted at pick 120 by Carlton and spent three years there. It took him till his third season (1995) to play a senior game.
At the end of 1995, Ben was approached by Richmond and a deal was struck whereby Justin Murphy left Richmond for Carlton and Ben began the second phase of his AFL career, at Richmond. He played eight games in 1996, sixteen games in 1997 and continued to play regular senior games through 1998–2000.
At the end of the 2000 season, Ben was contacted by the Bulldogs. Coach Terry Wallace indicated he really wanted Ben to play for the Dogs and offered him a three-year contract. So began Ben’s career at Whitten Oval.
Ben regrets never having had the opportunity to play finals with the Western Bulldogs, but he says that among his fondest memories are the away wins at places like Football Park in Adelaide.
For about three or four years while he was playing for the Bulldogs, Ben co-owned a restaurant called The Lounge Room, at Docklands, with former Richmond team-mates Matthew Richardson and Nick Daffy.
The end of Ben’s career was probably hastened by a knee injury suffered against Richmond in 2005, when his brother-in-law Andrew Kellaway dove on the ball and took Ben’s knee out on the way through, seriously tearing Ben’s medial ligament. That injury kept Ben out for ten weeks but he returned to the seniors for one last game in Round 14 of 2005, against St Kilda. He had played more than half of his career total of 161 games for the Bulldogs.
Since retiring, Ben says the thing he misses most is the banter among the players. He also says that, when he looks back, every time he left a club, he left with no ill feeling. He may not have always been happy to leave but he always felt the clubs did the right thing by him.
During his time with the Bulldogs, Ben and his now wife, Jenni, eloped to Santorini in Greece and were married. After Ben retired from football, the couple took a whole year travelling overseas – starting in Europe and then spending the last three months in an apartment in New York. When he and Jenni returned from their year away, Ben started a career in real estate and has been in real estate ever since. He is now an accredited auctioneer.
Ben and Jenni have two sons. Henry and Leo. Henry, the oldest, supports the Bulldogs and Leo follows Richmond.
Despite he having played for three AFL clubs, when people ask Ben what team he barracks for he has no hesitation in saying it’s the Doggies – he can’t wait to celebrate a Bulldog premiership.
Similar stories of past Footscray/Western Bulldogs players appear in The Bulldog Heritage and The Bulldog Heritage: Volume 2 (published by the Western Bulldogs Forever Foundation) both available from the Bulldogs Shop at Whitten Oval for $69.95