GARY ABLETT QUITS
GEELONG FOR AFL NEW BOYS GOLD COAST SUNS
GEELONG CATS STAR GARY ABLETT walked out on the club that directly or indirectly nurtured him most of his life today, news broken earlier today by 3AW's Rumour File and prominent football journalist Caroline Wilson. All this comes some 18 hours' after it was confirmed coach Mark Thompson has all but quit, leaving the Cast somewhat in crisis. At a press conference held at Melbourne's Crown Casino a short time ago, Ablett claimed it wasn't solely the money that he left the Cats.
The news came one year to the day that Ken Hinkley left the Cats to take up another assistant role with the Suns, ironically one he may leave to take up the Cats' senior job when Thompson goes. Ablett has already been removed from the Geelong Football Club website (see player's list here). Discuss in our forum on Facebook
Smug Gold Coast CEO Travis Auld did a Rob Oakeshott and crapped on for quite some time about how good their club was 'gonna' be, before Ablett read out a prepared statement, sticking to the line it was not just about money and that he only made up his mind late yesterday. He said it was 'only a game' and that he expects all his friendships with the Geelong players to continue, although snapped back 'you'd have to ask them that' when asked if he would be able to walk the streets of Geelong after this decision.
Ablett took questions until 1PM when the press conference was wrapped up. He acknowledged the club has been a huge part of most of his life but said he hopes younger Geelong fans will understand later on in life when they have similarly large cash offers (maybe not).
The Cattery is not happy but does acknowledge he (Ablett) did at least have the guts to make his announcement today and not pretend at tomorrow night's Best and Fairest, which he is tipped to win, he still 'hadn't made up me mind'. His hand may have been forced for him in this regard but to front up tomorrow to what is likely to be a fairly hostile public takes some courage. Deciding to stick with the club that made him for a very decent salary would have taken even more courage hwoever.
GEELONG's Press Conference in response is scheduled for 2:30 this afternoon.
GOLD COAST PRESS RELEASE
The Gold Coast SUNS is pleased to announce champion midfielder Gary Ablett has confirmed he will join the club for the next five years.
The 2009 Brownlow medalist, dual Geelong premiership player and four-time All Australian, is widely recognised as the best player in the AFL competition.
Gold Coast SUNS CEO Travis Auld said the announcement is the biggest endorsement of the new AFL team yet with Ablett joining recent player signings Nathan Bock, Nathan Krakouer, Michael Rischitelli, Campbell Brown and Jarrod Harbrow.
This is an historic day for the AFLs newest team. These established players will be the solid base from which we build a successful club around a talented young list of young players including Zac Smith, Maverick Weller, David Swallow, Brandon Matera, Charlie Dixon and of course Karmichael Hunt, he said.
Gary is the single biggest marquee player in the AFL. We are inspired by the fact he has accepted a huge personal challenge to assist in launching a new AFL team in a developing market.
We are also inspired by his belief, that we can put together a team that can sustain a window of opportunity to achieve great things.
We think the excitement Gary brings to the club, the professionalism he demonstrates and his on field leadership will be an enormous benefit to a young group that want to build towards a premiership.
Our Board, our administration, our sponsors are thrilled and we know our members and the Gold Coast community will welcome Gary and turn out at our new stadium to watch him in action. We hope all football fans will be excited to see his transition as a Gold Coast SUNS player.
Gary Ablett said reinventing himself both personally and on the football field with the Gold Coast SUNS is very exciting challenge.
Its an opportunity to be involved in something from the beginning - to help shape and develop a young talented playing group one that has the potential to be very successful, he said.
I am very excited by the vision of the Gold Coast SUNS, the support the team has already achieved and the quality of the group of people involved. Im looking forward to the next stage of my career.
Gold Coast SUNS Senior Coach Guy McKenna said that Ablett will bring much more than his incredible football talent and physical prowess to the club.
His competiveness, work rate, team ethos, manic training and rehabilitation detail will all provide magnificent leadership to our young group, he said.
He brings a level of professionalism from a premiership team and a team that has dominated the competition for much of the past four years which will be invaluable across all aspects of our club.
We are not just about building a football club. We are about building a successful football club and attracting a successful player such as Gary Ablett to the Gold Coast SUNS was an important part of our plan.
Wilson broke the news on The Age's sister organisation 3AW (both owned by Fairfax now), who soon had interviews with club boss Brian Cook and AFL boss Andrew Demetriou.
Cook admitted yesterday at the press conference relating to Thompson that he held little hope of retaining Ablett, but hadn't completely given up. This morning he was that little bit more pessimistic, but added he had not spoken to Ablett or his manager Liam Pickering.
AFL boss Demetriou, speaking on 3AW after Wilson, poured cold water over suggestions Ablett would be paid at the upper end of the $1.5 - 2.0 Million a season range.
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ECHOS OF 1999? NOT REALLY
Some folk, possibly including us initially, can see parallels between now and post-season 1999, when coach Gary Ayres and captain Leigh Colbert (remember him?) walked out within days of each other. The difference between now and then is we're still an AFL force on field, Ablett isn't captain, we aren't $10Million+ in debt and have a great supporter base and profitable stadium.
GARY ABLETT WITH THE 2009 BROWNLOW MEDAL
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