Sons of guns wait in the wings

NEW GENERATION: Thomas Couch wearing some unfamiliar colours in a match last year.  
Saturday, April 20
Geelong Advertiser

ABLETT, Bairstow, Couch, Turner, Blake, Bright, Callan and Neal - they're names synonymous with Geelong football.

Collectively the Cats played 1569 games and kicked 2182 goals between the 1960-97 AFL seasons.

This weekend these same names will be kicking the dew off footy ovals around Australia.

Nathan (Ablett), Toby (Bairstow), Thomas (Couch), Che (Turner), Levi (Turner), Matt (Blake), Michael (Bright), Tim (Callan) and Jacob (Neal) are all eligible under the AFL father-son rule.

Their fathers wore the blue and white hoops in distinguished careers of no fewer than 62 games (Callan), with Brownlow medallist Paul Couch tipping the scales at 259 career games.

The tradition, which has landed Gary Ablett junior, David Clarke and Matthew Scarlett at Kardinia Park could continue, with these sons of guns showing enough to be under the eagle eyes of Cat scouts.

Tim Callan, 17, looms as Geelong's next father-son draft option this year.

From the Geelong College, Callan played in last year's finals series but battled shoulder injuries.

Sixteen-year-old Mark Blake - son of Geelong's 1980 best and fairest winner Rod - has played only two games with the Geelong Falcons and is this week's starting ruckman.

He's draftable next year.

Like the interest surrounding brother Gary, Nathan Ablett is already generating talk.

The 16-year-old has knocked back the Falcons' invitation opting to remain at local club Modewarre.

Named a senior emergency two weeks ago, he's been pulling on the under-18 guernsey - and dominating - as Falcons bosses try to win him to their cause.

Others floating around the local scene - still too young for the draft system - include Paul Couch's son Thomas, Jacob Neal, son of Robert, and Michael Turner's Che.

Then there is Toby Bairstow: young, stocky, redheaded, but over in Western Australia. He'll float through the WAFL.

With Michael Bright and Levi Turner out of the under-18 system and now playing VFL, their chances of father-son are reduced.

But Bright is proving potent with five goals in two VFL games.

The Falcons are a fertile breeding ground for Geelong, with Cameron Ling, David Clarke, James Rahilly, Matthew Scarlett, James Bartel and Gary Ablett their products.

NEW GENERATION: Thomas Couch wearing some unfamiliar colours in a match last year.