Gary Ablett, Jr. Champion Professional AFL Player
Gary Ablett Jr. was a professional Australian Rules football player. He is currently the captain of the Gold Coast Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL) but has played previously for the Geelong Football Club.
Born on 14th May 1984, Ablett Jr. was trained to play for Geelong since the very beginning, something he couldn’t avoid being the eldest son of the AFL Hall of Fame member and Geelong player Gary Ablett Sr. His efforts and dedicated helped him show his worth by establishing himself as one of the greatest AFL players.
Today, Ablett Jr. is recognized as one of the AFL’s most elite midfielders, a fact proven by him receiving a number of the league’s highest individual honours, including the 2 Brownlow Medals and the Leigh Matthews Trophy for being the AFL Players’ Association’s Most Valuable Player.
These aside, the athlete is a dual premiership player and has won three AFL Coaches Association Champion Player of the Year Awards along with several media awards. Representatively, he was chosen to captain the Victoria in the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match.
In his years as an AFL player, he has also become a great asset for the Geelong Football Club and has been welcomed into the club’s Hall of Fame.
The Early Years
Because Gary Ablett Jr. was the eldest of four siblings, much of his childhood was spent with his father. This enabled him to watch Gary Sr. grow into a legendary footballer. Along with his younger brother, Nathan, he would raid the player rooms and engage in kick-to-kick sessions with the players.
Until he was chosen to play for the Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup competition in 2000, Ablett played junior football with the Modewarre Football Club. However, when selected, Ablett was able to attract a lot of attention because he was the son of a popular and famous football player.
Even though Ablett was still a bottom aged player, he managed to receive a mid-year State Honours for Victoria Country during the 2001 National Championships. After he had spent a year in the TAC cup, the junior player entered his name into the AFL draft at the end of the 2001 season.
Gary Ablett’s AFL Career: Geelong Football Club 2002-2004
Ablett made his debut at the Geelong Football Club in the opening round of the 2002 AFL season. He was able to gather eight disposals and took away four marks. During that season, Ablett Jr. made 12 senior appearances before spending the remaining half of the year with the reserves team where he helped the team in winning the 2002 VFL Premiership against the Port Melbourne Football Club.
In the following season, Ablett successfully established his position in the senior side. He alternated between being a small forward and a midfielder, and managed to score 26 goals during the 2003 AFL season. Later on, Ablett and the rest of the team began their 2004 campaign and first appeared in the pre-season competition final against St Kida. However, even though Geelong went on to the preliminary finals, they were unable to take part in the 2004 AFL Grand Final because they were beaten by Brisbane
The year ended with Ablett Jr. ranking first within the club. This is why he was awarded the club’s Best Team and Most Constructive Player award at the end of the season. Later, Ablett was once again chosen for the finals series, but the team was unable to make it to that level as they had lost to Sydney in the semi-finals. Still, at the end of the season, Ablett was rewarded with a third place finishing in the club Best and Fairest award for his performance throughout the year.
After playing his first five seasons as a small forward, Ablett made a permanent move to the midfield in 2007. Geelong successfully won their very first premiership since 1963 when they defeated Port Adelaide in the 2007 AFL Grand Final. Ablett, being one of the best players of the team, scored 19 disposals, one goal and eight tackles in the grand final victory. Ablett also achieved an All Australian Honours for the first time in his career after he had won his first premiership. Moreover, the AFL Player’s Association awarded him with the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Later on, Ablett became the youngest receiver 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 major media awards: the Herald Sun Player of the Year and The Age player of the year award. Finally, Ablett completed his range of individual awards when we was awarded the Carji Greeves Medal as Geelong’s Best and Fairest Player for the first time in his career.
During the 2008 AFL season, Gary Ablett Jr. helped the Geelong achieve a 21-win season, which in turn helped them secure the McClelland Trophy for the second time in a row. His position was further rewarded when he was selected to play for the Victorian state team in the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match. However, because of a groin injury, Ablett was not able to participate in the all-star event and the Geelong team were defeated by Hawthorn in the final deciding game of the season.
Still, Ablett was awarded the All Australian Honours for the second time when he featured in 21 games for the season. However, this wasn’t the only award coming his way; the footballer again secured the AFLPA Leigh Matthews Trophy and AFLCA Champion Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season.
Before the 2009 AFL Season, Ablett was recruited to the Club’s seven man leadership group and was welcomed into the Geelong Football Club Hall. After the 2008 AFL Grand Final loss, it was suggested that the player would be better off in the forward line so as to provide the team with another goal scoring option.
However, even though Ablett proved to play a great game, he was criticised by many for apparently being selfish and thinking about his own individual honours instead of playing with the team values. Some even said that the player had become so obsessed with the idea of the ‘best player’ that he could win the Brownlow Medal. Despite all of this, Ablett managed to help his team during the home and away campaign and got it to finish second on the ladder and qualify for the finals series. Geelong was successful in progressing for the Grand Finals for the third consecutive season and captured the premiership for the second time.
Because Ablett had performed exceptionally throughout the season, he was recognized at the 2009 ALFPA Awards and received the Leigh Matthews Trophy for the third time, a first-of-its-kind event in AFL history. In addition, Ablett won his third AFL Coaches’ Association Champion Player of the Year award. However, many believe that his biggest victory in 2009 was when he was awarded the Brownlow Medal. Finally, Ablett wrapped up the season by being co-awarded his second Carji Greeves Medal with Corey Enright as the club’s Best and Fairest Player of the Year.
After the 2009 season came to an end, it was speculated that Ablett would leave Geelong by the end of 2010 and join AFL’s newest team the Gold Coast. This proved to be true when the player finally confirmed that he was joining the Gold Coast Suns on 29th September, 2010.
Gold Coast Football Club
On 29 September 2010, Ablett signed a five-year contract with the new Gold Coast Football Club, which was valued at more than $10million. Some months later, in January 2011, Ablett was named as the Gold Coast’s inaugural AFL captain and won the Gold Coast Club Champion Award.
Gary’s Personal Life
Ablett is one of the most prominent members of what is called the “Ablett Dynasty”, which is a group of footballers who descend from Alf and Colleen Ablett. Among these members are, Gary’s father, Gary Ablett Sr., his two uncles, Kevin and Geoff Ablett, his brother Nathan Ablett, and cousin Luke Ablett.
Both of his uncles, Kevin and Geoff Ablett played senior VFL football from 1970s to the 1990s. Meanwhile, his brother and cousin played the same in the 2000s and 2010s. Just last year in May 2012, it was noted that if all the matches of the entire family were counted, they would sum up to be around 900 matches with Gary’s immediate family playing approximately 500 matches altogether.
Gary’s aunt, Fay Ablett also has two sons, Shane and Travis Tuck. Since football courses through their veins as well, both have played league football.
Family aside, Gary Ablett dated Lauren Phillips of Nine Networks for seven years. However, they broke off their relationship in early January 2010. After that, the AFL Player briefly dated Canadian former model Abby Boulbol before getting back together with Lauran Phillips in August 2010. Unfortunately, the nine-year long relationship ended in September 2012.
The Bottom Line
Gary Ablett Jr. may have inherited his family’s love for football, but his skills and dedication to the game are what make him one of the memorable members of the AFL.