|Name||Gary Ablett Jnr|
|V/AFL Clubs||Geelong, Gold Coast|
Please note this player profile has been sourced from Wikipedia. A biography of this player written especially for australianfootball.com is in preparation.
Gary Ablett, Jr. (born 14 May 1984) is a professional Australian rules football player and current captain of the Gold Coast Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL).
The elder son of AFL Hall of Fame member and Geelong great Gary Ablett, Sr., Ablett Junior was drafted to the AFL under the father-son rule and began his career in his father's shadow. Since then, however, he has since established himself as one of the game's greats in his own right.
Ablett has been recognised as one of the AFL's elite midfielders, being awarded many of the league's highest individual honours, including the prestigious Brownlow Medal, the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFL Players Association's Most Valuable Player a record three times, and been selected to four All-Australian sides, once as vice-captain. He is a dual premiership player. He has won three AFL Coaches Association 'Champion Player of the Year' awards, and a several media awards including the Australian Football Media Association Player of the Year award. At a representative level, he was selected to captain Victoria in the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match.
He has also become a great of the Geelong Football Club, being inducted into the club's Hall of Fame and awarded life membership while still playing, winning two Carji Greeves Medals as Geelong's best and fairest player and led the club's goalkicking.
Gary Ablett, Junior was born to Gary and Sue Ablett in the country town of Modewarre, Victoria. As the eldest boy among three other siblings, Ablett's childhood coincided with the peak of his father's footballing career. Along with his brother Nathan, Ablett would regularly attend his father's training sessions and weekly games. Geelong players regarded them as "barefooted pests in the rooms", and would often engage in kick-to-kick sessions with both of the boys.
Ablett played junior football with the Modewarre Football Club, until he was chosen to play for the Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup competition in 2000. Ablett's selection was met with controversy, as some families of other prospective junior players felt Ablett was chosen on the basis of his famous family heritage rather than footballing merit. However, the Falcons' football manager Mick Turner repeatedly dismissed speculation. Nonetheless, as the son of a popular and famous football player from Geelong, Ablett attracted a large following even at junior level. Although he was still a bottom-aged player, Ablett received mid-year State honours for Victoria Country during the 2001 National Championships. After spending one year in the TAC Cup, Ablett entered his name into the 2001 AFL Draft at the conclusion of the 2001 season.
Ablett was drafted by the Geelong Football Club with their fifth selection, and was the fortieth overall draft pick in the 2001 AFL Draft under the father-son rule. Ablett made his senior debut for the club in the opening round of the 2002 AFL season, where he gathered eight disposals and took four marks. Ablett made twelve senior appearances in total during the season, before spending the latter half of the year with the reserves team. Playing as a small forward, he helped the club's reserves team win the 2002 VFL Premiership against the Port Melbourne Football Club.
After achieving premiership success with the reserves team in the previous year, Ablett established his position in the senior side the following season. Ablett alternated as a small forward and a midfielder, scoring 26 goals and appearing in all of Geelong's senior fixtures during the 2003 AFL season. Ablett finished the year ranked first at the club for tackles (77) and inside 50s (89), as well as second for hard-ball gets (65). Following another season without participation in the finals series, Ablett and his teammates began their 2004 campaign with an appearance in the pre-season competition final against St Kilda. During the home-and-away period, Ablett helped the Cats compile a 15-7 win-loss record to qualify for their first finals series in four years. Geelong progressed through to the preliminary finals, before losing to Brisbane for a spot in the 2004 AFL Grand Final. Ablett made 21 appearances in total over the course of the season, and kicked a career-high 35 goals. He once again finished the year ranked first within the club for total tackles (93), and was awarded the club's Best Team and Most Constructive Player award at the end of the season. The following year, Geelong again qualified for the finals series after finishing the home-and-away campaign with a 12-10 win-loss record. They progressed through to the semi-finals, before a three-point loss to Sydney ended their season. Ablett's consistency, reflected with his appearance in all senior games during the year and team-high 86 tackles, was rewarded with a third-place finishing in the club best and fairest award.
After consecutive appearances in the finals series, Ablett and Geelong were expected to challenge for the premiership once again in 2006. The club's 2006 campaign began successfully when they captured the pre-season NAB Cup, winning their first pre-season premiership since 1961. During the season, Ablett kicked a career-high six goals against Fremantle in round twelve, before making his 100th senior appearance for the club in round twenty-two against Hawthorn. However, the Cats only managed to win 10 games throughout the season and missed qualification for the finals series. Ablett finished the season with 35 goals to win the club's leading goal kicker award and once again place third for the Carji Greeves Medal as the club's best and fairest player.
After playing his first five seasons as a small forward who occasionally pushed up the ground, Ablett made a permanent move to the midfield in 2007. He helped the Cats finish the home-and-away season first on the ladder to win the McClelland Trophy and qualify for the finals series. Geelong progressed through to the 2007 AFL Grand Final, in which they defeated Port Adelaide by a record 119 points to win their first premiership since 1963. Ablett recorded 19 disposals, one goal, and an equal game-high eight tackles in the grand final victory.
Ablett played in all 25 games for the year and gained a number of individual accolades. After winning his first premiership, he also achieved All-Australian honours for the first time in his career. Despite being the favourite to win the 2007 Brownlow Medal, he finished equal-sixth with 20 votes behind team-mate Jimmy Bartel on 29 votes. However, his breakthrough season was recognised by the AFL Player's Association as they awarded him the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player. Ablett also became the youngest ever recipient of the AFL Coaches' Association (AFLCA) 'Champion Player of the Year' Award and the Australian Football Media Association (AFMA) 'Player of the Year' Award. Ablett also claimed two of the major media awards; the Herald Sun Player of the Year and The Age Player of the Year awards. Ablett completed his sweep of individual awards when he was awarded the Carji Greeves Medal as Geelong's best and fairest player for the first time in his career.
Ablett's breakthrough season was highlighted by his increased output in several major statistical categories: Ablett increased his disposal average to 26.7 (from 16.9 the previous season), kicks per game to 14.3 (from 10.1), and handpasses per game to 12.4 (from 6.8). He ranked first at the club and second within the league for total disposals (667) and total kicks (358), and also second for total handballs (309).
Ablett continued to establish his position as one of the premier players of the competition during the 2008 AFL season. He helped the Cats achieve a record-equalling 21-win season and secure the McClelland Trophy for the second successive year. His standout season was recognised early on when he was selected to play for the Victorian state team in the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match. However, a groin injury prevented him from participating in the all-star event. Having qualified for the finals series in first position on the ladder, Geelong progressed through to the grand final for a successive year. Despite losing only one game during the home-and-away period, Geelong failed to capture the premiership as they were defeated by Hawthorn in the deciding-game for the season. Ablett's performance in the final, during which he recorded a game-high 34 possessions, five tackles, eight inside 50s, and kicked an equal-team-high two goals, was recognised as he placed second in Norm Smith Medal voting for best afield in the grand final.
Ablett featured in 21 games for the season and was awarded All-Australian honours for the second successive year. Despite entering the 2008 Brownlow Medal count as the favourite once again, Ablett tallied 22 votes to finish third behind Adam Cooney. However, Ablett's performances throughout the year were further recognised when he was awarded the AFLPA Leigh Matthews Trophy and AFL Coaches' Association 'Champion Player of the Year' awards for the second consecutive season. After increasing his disposal average once again to 28.9 possessions per game, Ablett finished runner-up for the Carji Greeves Medal to teammate Joel Corey. His 606 disposals ranked ninth in the league, while his 318 handpasses throughout the season ranked him fourth within the competition. Geelong coach Mark Thompson described Ablett's 2008 season as "amazing" and implied he was unsure if Ablett could improve any more. Thompson cited that he believed Ablett to be "at the top of his game".
Ablett was appointed to the club's seven-man leadership group and inducted into the Geelong Football Club Hall of Fame prior to the 2009 AFL season. Following the 2008 AFL Grand Final loss, Thompson suggested that Ablett would become a more prominent player in the forward line to provide the team with another goal-scoring option. Ablett and his teammates began their 2009 campaign by winning the pre-season NAB Cup for the second time in four years. Ablett recorded 35 disposals and kicked three goals to place second for the Michael Tuck Medal as the player judged best afield in the final. In round four, Ablett made his 150th senior appearance for the club against Adelaide and gained life membership with Geelong in the process. Ablett went on to tie Nathan Buckley's then-record of 46 disposals in a game while also setting a new record for most handpasses in a game (33). Ablett's proficiency in finding the football saw him reach 40 or more disposals in a game a record six times throughout the season, and 30 or more disposals fifteen times. However, Ablett's critics accused him of playing selfishly in pursuit of individual honours ahead of team values. Commentators such as Tim Watson claimed that Ablett had "become obsessed with the whole idea of going out there and being the best player" in order to win the Brownlow Medal. Despite this, Ablett helped Geelong finish the home-and-away campaign with an 18-4 win-loss record to finish second on the ladder and qualify for the finals series. After wins against the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood, Geelong progressed through to the Grand Final for the third successive season. During the final, Ablett gathered 25 disposals, six tackles, five inside-50s, and kicked one goal to help the Cats defeat St Kilda by 12 points and capture the premiership for the second time in three years.
Ablett's performances throughout the season were recognised at the 2009 AFLPA Awards, where he was awarded his third consecutive Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFL Player's Association Most Valuable Player. Ablett's victory saw him become the first player in history to win the award three times. Ablett also won his third consecutive AFL Coaches' Association 'Champion Player of the Year' Award and was further acknowledged for his record-breaking season when awarded the 2009 Brownlow Medal. Ablett polled 30 votes to win the award despite missing the most amount of games (three) by any Brownlow winner since the 22-round season was re-introduced in 1994. Ablett's role in Geelong's premiership-winning campaign was further recognised at the conclusion of the season, when he was co-awarded his second Carji Greeves Medal alongside Corey Enright as the club's best-and-fairest player of the year.
Ablett averaged a career-high and league-leading 33.8 possessions per game throughout the season. Ablett also led the league in total handpasses (445), handpasses per game (20.2) and contested possessions (256). His 744 total disposals during the season also ranked second within the league, while his 494 uncontested possessions ranked fourth.
After the 2009 season, and indeed at many points during the season, speculation continued to mount that Ablett would leave Geelong at the end of 2010 and join the AFL's newest team, Gold Coast. On 29 September 2010 it was finally confirmed that he was joining the Gold Coast Suns in what is understood to be a multi-million dollar deal.
On 29 September 2010, Ablett controversially signed a five-year contract with the new Gold Coast Football Club valued at more than $10 million. On 19 January 2011, after much speculation, Ablett was named as the Gold Coast's inaugural AFL captain. Ablett also won the inaugural Gold Coast Club Champion Award.
Ablett is primarily regarded as a goal-kicking midfielder, where he is capable of playing effectively inside or outside. However, he has also been deployed as a small forward at times, most notably early on in his career. Ablett is noted for his ability to find space on the ground, and ball-winning capabilities.
Kevin Sheedy has likened Ablett to Richmond's Hall of Famer Kevin Bartlett, noting their shared ability to "cut, weave, pick up a ball and run with it and think while running". Ablett has also been complimented as possessing great core physical strength, and being "very powerful in the legs and hips".
In addition to his father Gary Ablett, Sr., his brother Nathan Ablett, is also a former AFL footballer, playing alongside Ablett for Geelong from 2005 to his early retirement at the end of the 2007 AFL season.
Two of Ablett's uncles, Kevin and Geoff Ablett, are also former footballers, with Kevin playing for Hawthorn and Geelong, and Geoff playing for Hawthorn, Richmond and St Kilda throughout their careers. Kevin's son, Luke (Ablett's cousin), is a former AFL footballer, playing for the Sydney Swans, where he was a part of a premiership-winning side in 2005. Ablett has another footballer uncle, Michael Tuck, who is married to Fay Ablett (Kevin, Geoff and Gary, Sr.'s sister), and who also holds the record for most VFL/AFL games played (426 with Hawthorn). Tuck's two sons, Shane and Travis (Ablett's cousins), are also AFL footballers currently playing for Richmond and Hawthorn respectively. Another of Ablett's cousins, Ryan (Geoff's son), was rookie-listed for Hawthorn, but never played an AFL-level game. Ryan died from a serious heart condition (aged 27) on 28 March 2009, and his funeral held on 3 April 2009.
Ablett's grandparents, Alf and Colleen Ablett (Kevin, Geoff, Gary, Sr. and Fay's parents) are regarded as the patriarch and matriarch of the "Ablett dynasty". Alf died on 28 September 2008, a day after Ablett played in the losing Grand Final side against Hawthorn.