Soccer to 'em, Pele Ablett!

Monday, May 6
Geelong Advertiser

FORMER Cats champion Gary Ablett was back doing what he does best yesterday, scoring goals.

But gone were the blue and white hoops and the trademark number five, as Ablett put aside the Sherrin for a round ball.

Looking noticeably heavier than his AFL playing days, Ablett took to the soccer field with Corio Cloverdale in its Western Victoria Soccer Association clash with Deakin.

Wearing number nine, Ablett scored the first goal of the game from centre-half within 10 minutes of the opening whistle.

It was to be his team's only goal as Deakin ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.

In typical Ablett fashion, he had little say to afterwards.

``Gee, news travels fast,'' he joked, visibly strained from the two-hour workout.

``It's tough work. I'm just doing it for the fitness.''

Ablett, who retired from the AFL in 1997, is no stranger to the local soccer scene.

He played a handful of games for Corio Soccer Club in 1998 but has not been seen on a field since, other than a few appearances playing district cricket and at footy clubs.

``It will be good for the league publicity-wise if he continues,'' league president Joe Cappadona said, excited at the prospect of a crowd drawcard.

Yesterday's return to the sporting field has prompted speculation he may play in this year's EJ Whitten Legends game.

Ablett manager Michael Baker said last month the one time star would never be able to play football again because of a bone graft from his leg to replace damaged bone in his left wrist, caused by a tumor.

A return to the limelight is unknown but in the meantime one thing is assured .... whether it's between the big sticks or in the net, it seems Ablett still knows how to score.

Ablett will don his soccer boots again next Sunday, but those fans wanting to catch the man in action will have to make the trek to Warrnambool.