Those lucky enough to watch Gary Ablett Snr grace a football field and do what he did best could be forgiven for believing that they probably wouldn’t see a footballer as good as he was. After 248 games and 1030 goals, you would be excused for thinking that.
At the very least, you could be absolutely certain that there would never be another player by the name of Gary Ablett that could do what he could on the field.
Gary Ablett Jnr is approaching the same number of games as his old man but is still a good 700 goals short of his father’s achievements. Although he has two premiership medallions and a premiership more than Ablett Snr, his personal achievements are not what sets him apart from his father. Although, it must be mentioned that Ablett Jnr’s already bulging trophy cabinet could be much bigger had he not decided to make the move to Gold Coast from Geelong in late 2010.
At the time, you could be forgiven for thinking that Ablett was lured solely by a wad of money that no AFL player deserved to make. After all, Ablett is currently on a five-year contract worth more that $10 million. However, after Ablett’s performance during Gold Coast’s Round 1 victory against St Kilda, there is absolutely no doubt that he deserves every cent.
It was said by Suns coach Guy McKenna that Ablett would make a move to a receiving role in the midfield rather than always being in the thick of the action. You could be forgiving for believing this would affect his personal performances and maybe even overall performance of Gold Coast, considering it was essentially removing its best midfielder from contests.
Ablett’s 34-disposal game may not be near some of the totals he amassed in 2012 but his performance was by far his best in Gold Coast colours. It is clear that the Suns now possess the firepower to get the ball clear from congestion to Ablett when necessary.
Although Ablett still racked up nine clearances, the time he spent away from the centre bounce allowed David Swallow (six), Michael Richitelli (five) and Jared Brennan (five) to tally up their own clearances and get the ball forward to allow Ablett to do what he arguably does best which is finish, as he did to kick his game-changing four goals.
After its first Round 1 victory and proving that it does not need Gary Ablett to do all the work all the time, Gold Coast is well and truly in its best position in its short history. With the likes of senior players Jarrod Harbrow, Michael Rischitelli and Jared Brennan finally sharing the load and youngsters in Harley Bennell, David Swallow and the impressive debutant in Jaeger O’Meara stepping up to the plate, the 2013 Gold Coast midfield could be anything.
Considering the Suns play Sydney, Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney in coming weeks, it’s not unthinkable to believe that the Suns could have a record of four wins and one loss after five games.
As far as the debate between which Gary Ablett is the best, Ablett Jnr has done something amazing and near-unbelievable that his father has not and that is leave a top club to join a team, one that was destined to be nothing more than a league stepping stone, and played a massive part in turning that team into a competitive unit. That is what sets him apart.