Bailey Smith’s devastating admission as fallout continues from white powder scandal

Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith has lifted the lid on his mental health struggles, admitting he encountered some “really dark days” in the wake of last year’s AFL Grand Final loss to Melbourne.

The 21-year-old insisted he wasn’t trying to provide an excuse after compromising images emerged of him with a bag of white powder over the weekend, but rather to give some context into the mental state he was in while slipping into bad “behaviours” late in 2021.

“I just had to take that month off, and I didn’t know what my future looked like from there,” Smith told News Corp.

“I didn’t know if I’d ever get back to good form, or get back on the straight and narrow.

“There have certainly been really dark days. Even now, I haven’t brushed my teeth in two days just because of this stuff.

“It does hit me, and I do get waves of chronic anxiety and it’s difficult.

“I reckon I went days without eating (after the grand final), even brushing my teeth, leaving my bedroom, I couldn’t talk to people.

“I didn’t go on my phone or anything, but that’s just what it was.

“I didn’t do any training, anything like that – I couldn’t even get out of bed to go to training.

“I’m sure lots of people have experienced that, and it’s not an excuse to why I acted the way that I did, but it certainly does provide context as to why I made such a stupid decision like I did.”

The star midfielder is expected to cop a two-week ban and possibly a strike under the AFL’s illicit drugs policy over the images – and a compromising video – that circulated of him on Saturday.

Smith, who is already serving a two-week ban for headbutting, will meet with AFL investigators about the matter on Tuesday.

He said he fell into the trap of the party lifestyle while he was situated on the Gold Coast in the wake of the 2021 finals series.

He has previously admitted to struggling with the attention that came with becoming one of the game’s most marketable players in such a short span of time.

“It is a reality of what lots of people are like; the party life which I’ve tried to steer clear from a lot this year, and got sucked into last year,” Smith said.

“This is good for people to see the path they don’t want to go down.

“Lots of people growing up can fall into the wrong crowds and fall into doing stupid stuff.”

The Dogs star, who said he was relieved that the images of him had emerged, declared he now wants to inspire others in a similar situation to what he was to seek help.

He also highlighted how his coach Luke Beveridge was the first person from the Bulldogs to reach out to him on Saturday to provide his support with a text message that read “here to support you, we’ll get through this”.

On Monday morning, Beveridge continued to back Smith while declaring both he and the club were focused on the young star’s health.

“He’s obviously dropped his guard on a number of occasions,” Beveridge said

“Those emotions are still pretty raw for him. The ones closest to him have rallied around him, and he’s going to need a little bit of time this week just to process it.

“He has to meet with the AFL and go through it with them.

“The main message from me and our football club is we’re here to help him and support him.

“It’s essentially a health issue for him and no one condones the taking of illicit drugs and substances, but it happens in society and, as a father of two young boys who are 23 and 21, I’ve got a fair understanding that no one is immune to it and Bailey is one of those and has succumbed to temptation and he’ll learn from it.

“We’re really just interested in the future with him and how we can carry him through being better equipped to managing his own health and how he relates to the public as well.

“He essentially almost needs a minder wherever he goes now (because of the attention he gets in public).”

The Dogs coach also questioned the value of the AFL three-strike illicit drugs policy.

“None of us are really sure it works,” Beveridge said.

“Ultimately the clubs, the people, the constituents at the football clubs are here to help and support our players.

“And essentially any player with a clinically diagnosed mental health challenge will never be exposed to the policy anyway.”

Beveridge said he would prefer not to forecast what the AFL’s response might be to Smith’s indiscretions.

“He’s already got to serve this two-week suspension for what happened in the previous game,” Beveridge said.

“None of us are forecasting the meeting with the AFL tomorrow. I’d rather be silent on that.

“I’d rather we didn’t and just help Baz process this and deal with it, learn from it and help him ready physically and mentally to return to play with his teammates.”