When I was a little girl, I didn’t really understand just how special you were.
Dad talked in awe about you, Ablett this and Ablett that, and I loved you because my Dad did.
I screamed your name because everyone else did too. My brother had your 29 on his back. He didn’t get it, but we all adored you, equally.
Your name was embedded into the walls of Kardinia Park and the whole city of Geelong. You, your Dad and your brother – our heroes. Your name would ignite a room and you could bridge a gap between the old and the young when the name was uttered.
Your brute strength, the way you never lost your feet. Your ‘never die’ attitude. The way you reinvented, built upon the Ablett name.
And I remember all of this. Even as a young girl, I always admired what your family had brought to the club. I just never truly understood it, until I saw tears in my Dad’s eyes when I grew up and you came home into the Geelong arms, that yearned for your return for so many years.
We never booed you while you were away, because your name is greatly admired at Kardinia Park and always will be, now that you’re home.
But you’ve changed.
That seven-year-old girl would still recognise you though, but she’s now had the honour of seeing something she can tell her children about.
And Round 17 of the 2019 season was just another story to add to the collection.
It wasn’t a pretty game. Slow start, inability to play the Geelong way and pressure saw St Kilda leading at halftime, something they hadn’t done in years.
We shuffle collectively in our seats, we walk off the G Town cold and keep ourselves busy, hoping for a miracle, from you, Gary.
It’s like our prayers are answered, like always when it comes to you, these days.
You seem to turn on whenever we need, as if to say “alright, let me through, I’ve got some work to do.”
And you always get it right. Just like this night.
Dad cried again, when you came out and limped your way to full-forward and did what you did.
He tells me you’re doing stuff your own Dad did.
How jealous I will always be, that my Dad got to witness the both of you.
Seeing the way my Dad’s face lights up, whenever you complete something spectacular, is worth everything I have ever received and I would give anything to keep that sparkle in his eye.
How you booted that over your shoulder is beyond me. On one leg and all. Tears and standing ovations for you, the man who ages like fine wine.
And it’s a good thing. A miracle player, now, so poised, so ‘Ablett’.
I wish I could tell that little girl, who had tears streaming down her face as you left the Cattery years before, to hold on and wait for your mighty return, because it’s all going to be worth it when that number 4 jumper is reinvented.
It’s giving her stories that she will share for generations, with people who will remember your Ablett name down at Kardinia Park.
And just like that seven-year-old, I will always cheer a little louder for you, Gary.
But this time round, I get what all the fuss is about.
Just another believer.
GEELONG 4.4 5.7 8.8 12.12 (84)
ST KILDA 2.2 6.3 6.7 8.9 (57)
Geelong: Guthrie 2, Ratugolea 2, Ablett 2, Dangerfield, Duncan, Kelly, Miers, Atkins, Hawkins
St Kilda: Bruce 3, Long 2, Marshall, Lonie, Acres
Geelong: Dangerfield, Duncan, Ablett, Ratugolea, Selwood, Taylor
St Kilda: Marshall, Clark, Dunstan, Savage, Steele, Billings
Umpires: Donlon, Fisher, O’Gorman
Official crowd: 24,035 at GMHBA Stadium