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Gary Ablett

Gary Ablett
Personal information
Full name Gary Ablett, Junior
Nickname(s) Gazza, The Little Master[1]
Date of birth 14 May 1984 (1984-05-14) (age 25)
Place of birth Modewarre, Victoria, Australia
Recruited from Modewarre / Geelong Falcons
Draft 40th overall (father/son), 2001
Height/Weight 182 cm / 85 kg
Position(s) Midfielder / Forward
Club information
Current club Geelong
Number 29
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
2002 – present Geelong 168 (218)   

1 Playing statistics to end of 2009 season .

Gary Ablett, Junior (born 14 May 1984) is an Australian rules footballer for the Geelong Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). A midfielder, 1.82 metres (6 ft 0 in) tall and weighing 85 kilograms (187 lb), Ablett is the eldest son of AFL Hall of Fame member Gary Ablett, Sr.

Ablett was selected by Geelong with the 40th overall pick in the 2001 AFL Draft under the father-son rule. Beginning his career as a small forward, Ablett enjoyed early success as part of the club's 2002 VFL Premiership and 2006 NAB Cup–winning sides. However, since 2007 he has played predominantly as a midfielder and garnered a long list of individual accolades. He is a dual premiership player, has won the Brownlow Medal, the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFL Players Association's Most Valuable Player a record three times, and been selected to three All-Australian sides. He has also won two Carji Greeves Medals, three AFL Coaches Association 'Champion Player of the Year' awards, and an Australian Football Media Association Player of the Year award.


Early life

Gary Ablett, Junior was born to Gary and Sue Ablett in the country town of Modewarre, Victoria.[2] 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.[2] Geelong players regarded them as "barefooted pests in the rooms", and would often engage in kick-to-kick sessions with both of the boys.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2] However, the Falcons' football manager Mick Turner repeatedly dismissed speculation.[2] 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.[2]

AFL career


Early career (2002–2006)

Young male athlete runs while wearing a navy blue and white striped sleeveless shirt and blue navy shorts. He looks ahead of the field as he holds the red football and prepares to kick it.
Ablett runs with the football during a game.

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 8 disposals and took 4 marks. Ablett made twelve senior appearances in total during the season, before spending the latter half of the year with the reserves team.[2] 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,[3] scoring 26 goals and appearing in all of Geelong's senior fixtures during the 2003 AFL season.[3] 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).[3] 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.

Move to the midfield (2007–2008)

Young male athlete stands in a navy blue and white striped sleeveless shirt and blue navy shorts. With an opponent approaching him, he holds the football to his right side of the body and prepares to dispose of the red football.
Ablett prepares to dispose of the football during a game.

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, 1 goal, and an equal game-high 8 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.[4]

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.[5] Thompson cited that he believed Ablett to be "at the top of his game".[5]

Brownlow medallist: (2009–present)

Young male athlete is in a navy blue and white striped sleeveless shirt and blue navy shorts. He has both feet off of the ground as he kicks the red football and watches the follow-through.
Ablett kicks the football during a game in 2009.

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.[6] 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.[5] 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.[7]

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).[8] 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.[9] However, Ablett's critics accused him of playing selfishly in pursuit of individual honours ahead of team values.[10] Commentators such as Tim Watson claimed that Ablett had "become obsessed with the whole idea of going out there and being the best player"[10] 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.[11] 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 (3) by any Brownlow winner since the 22-round season was 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.[12]

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.[13]

Media career

In 2009, Ablett appeared alongside other AFL footballers in an AFL television advertisement titled "AFL: in a league of its own".[14][15] The ad featured the players playing Australian rules football at famous sporting venues around the world, and in the middle of other sports being played, including basketball, soccer and American football.[14][15] Ablett is featured in a scene evading cars in an international off-road rally driving event, before kicking the ball to Fremantle player Matthew Pavlich.[14][15] The ad premiered on television on 22 March 2009.[15]

Player profile

Probably you've got to rank him close already to the great players

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".[16]

Ablett has also been complimented as possessing great core physical strength, and being "very powerful in the legs and hips".[16]

Personal life

Ablett dated Nine Network presenter Lauren Phillips for seven years; however, in early January 2010 it was confirmed the pair had ended their relationship. [17]


In addition to his father (Gary Ablett, Sr.), Ablett's brother, Nathan, is a 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 also an AFL footballer, currently 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.[18] Ryan died from a serious heart condition (aged 27) on 28 March 2009,[18][19] and his funeral held on 3 April 2009.[19][20]

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".[18] Alf died on 28 September 2008,[18] a day after Ablett played in the losing Grand Final side against Hawthorn.[18]


Statistics are correct as of 26 September 2009 (end of 2009 season). Averages are in brackets.[21][22]
Season Team No. Games Disposals Kicks Handballs Marks Tackles Goals Behinds
2002 Geelong 29 12 100 (8.3) 37 (3.1) 63 (5.2) 13 (3.1) 25 (3.6) 10 (0.8) 3 (0.8)
2003 22 327 (14.9) 189 (8.6) 138 (6.3) 61 (2.8) 77 (3.5) 26 (1.2) 20 (0.9)
2004 21 301 (14.3) 178 (8.5) 123 (5.9) 46 (2.2) 93 (4.4) 35 (1.7) 25 (1.2)
2005 24 435 (18.1) 257 (10.7) 178 (7.4) 65 (2.7) 86 (3.6) 29 (1.2) 26 (1.1)
2006 21 354 (16.9) 212 (10.1) 142 (6.8) 74 (3.5) 65 (3.1) 35 (1.7) 28 (1.3)
2007 25 667 (26.7) 358 (14.3) 309 (12.4) 98 (3.9) 86 (3.4) 30 (1.2) 26 (1.0)
2008 21 606 (28.9) 288 (13.7) 318 (15.1) 100 (4.8) 95 (4.5) 26 (1.2) 24 (1.1)
2009 22 744 (33.8) 299 (13.6) 445 (20.2) 93 (4.2) 92 (4.2) 27 (1.2) 26 (1.2)
Career totals 168 3534 (21.0) 1818 (10.8) 1716 (10.2) 550 (3.3) 619 (3.7) 218 (1.3) 178 (1.1)

Honours and achievements

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
2003 3
2004 3
2005 3
2006 5
2007 20
2008 22
2009 30 (won)
Total 86


  • AFL Premiership (Geelong): 2007, 2009
  • AFL McClelland Trophy (Geelong): 2007, 2008
  • AFL NAB Cup (Geelong): 2006, 2009
  • VFL Premiership (Geelong): 2002


  • Brownlow Medal: 2009
  • Leigh Matthews Trophy: 2007, 2008, 2009
  • All-Australian: 2007, 2008, 2009
  • AFL Coaches Association 'Champion Player of the Year' Award: 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Australian Football Media Association Player of the Year Award: 2007
  • Carji Greeves Medal: 2007, 2009
  • Geelong F.C. Hall of Fame: 2009 induction
  • Geelong F.C. Life Membership: 2009 induction
  • Geelong F.C. Leading Club Goalkicker award: 2006
  • Geelong F.C. Best Team and Most Constructive Player award: 2004
  • Geelong F.C. Most Improved Player award: 2003
  • AFL Coaches Association Team of the Year: 2005
  • Herald Sun Player of the Year Award: 2007
  • The Age Footballer of the Year Award: 2007
  • Lou Richards Medal: 2009

See also


  1. ^ Blake, M, "Cat machine purrs into action", The Age, 20 September 2009, accessed 20 September 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Baum, G, "Ablett the younger makes his own mark", The Age, 18 September 2004, accessed 11 March 2009
  3. ^ a b c Lovett, M, "AFL Season Preview 2004", Australian Football League Publishing, 2004, page 74
  4. ^ Witham, J, "Ablett tops off a grand year for Geelong", Australian Football League & BigPond Network, 4 October 2007, accessed 29 September 2008
  5. ^ a b c Robinson, M, "Geelong coach Mark Thompson commits to staying at Cats", The Herald Sun, 11 March 2009, accessed 11 March 2009
  6. ^ Cresswell, J, "Five welcomed into Cats hall of fame", The Geelong Advertiser, 19 March 2009, accessed 23 March 2009
  7. ^ Cullen, M, "Cats belt Pies in NAB Cup GF", Australian Football League & BigPond Network, 14 March 2009, accessed 14 March 2009
  8. ^ Edmund, S, "Gary Ablett slays Adelaide Crows, and still improving", The Herald Sun, 19 April 2009, accessed 28 January 2010
  9. ^ Connolly, R, " Sustained level of excellence rewarded", The Age, 22 September 2009, accessed 28 January 2010
  10. ^ a b Auciello, M, "Geelong Cats defend Gary Ablett after Tim Watson criticism", The Geelong Advertiser, 11 August 2009, accessed 28 January 2010
  11. ^ "Ablett voted MVP for third consecutive year", Australian Football League & BigPond Network, 7 September 2009, accessed 8 September 2009
  12. ^ Lienert, S, "Corey Enright, Gary Ablett share Cats Medal", The Herald Sun, 2 October 2009, accessed 28 January 2010
  13. ^ Gary Ablett looks to be headed to a warmer place, The Roar, Retrieved on 8 February 2010.
  14. ^ a b c Cresswell, Joel (20 March 2009). "Ablett blitzes new AFL promo". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  15. ^ a b c d Wilson, Caroline (10 March 2009). "League pushes north with new television commercial". Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  16. ^ a b c Begg, P, "Kevin Sheedy lauds Gary Ablett's freakish ability", The Geelong Advertiser, 16 April 2009, accessed 28 January 2010
  17. ^ Lyon, Karen (24 April 2007). "The Ablett effect". The Age. Retrieved 9 March 2009. 
  18. ^ a b c d e Barry, Evonne (28 March 2009). "Ablett family hit by tragedy". Herald Sun.,21985,25257768-2862,00.html. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Hamilton, John (3 April 2009). "Footy greats among mourners at funeral of Ryan Ablett". Herald Sun.,21985,25283866-2862,00.html. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  20. ^ Barry, Evonne (2 April 2009). "Tuck, Ablett families unite for Ryan Ablett's funeral". Herald Sun.,26576,25276804-19742,00.html. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  21. ^ "Gary Ablett statistics". AFL Tables. Retrieved 27 September 2009. 
  22. ^ "Gary Jnr Ablett of the Geelong Cats Career AFL Stats". Retrieved 27 September 2009. 


  • Slattery, Geoff (2007). Geelong - The Greatest Team Of All. Docklands, Victoria: Geoff Slattery Publishing Pty Ltd. pp. 18, 48, 81, 94. ISBN 978-0-9803466-9-5. 
  • Townley, Simon (2007). Year of the Cat - The Inside Story. Geelong, Victoria: The Geelong Advertiser Pty Ltd. pp. 19, 33, 81, 101. ISBN 978-0-9592863-7-3. 
  • Gullan, Scott (2008). The Mission - The Inside Story of Geelong's 2007 AFL Premiership. Melbourne, Victoria: Weston Media and Communications. pp. 71, 79, 139, 140, 141. ISBN 978-0-646-48985-8. 

External links

Preceded by
Chris Judd
Leigh Matthews Trophy
AFLPA Most Valuable Player

2007 — 2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Adam Goodes
Simon Goodwin
AFL Coaches' Association
Champion Player of the Year

2007 — 2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Adam Goodes
Australian Football Media Association
Player of the Year

Succeeded by
Brent Harvey
Preceded by
Paul Chapman
Carji Greeves Medal
Succeeded by
Joel Corey
Preceded by
Adam Goodes
Herald Sun Player of the Year
Succeeded by
Brent Harvey
The Age Player of the Year
Succeeded by
Sam Mitchell
Preceded by
Adam Cooney
Brownlow Medal
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joel Corey
Carji Greeves Medal
With: Corey Enright
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