It is often said that there is a lot more than meets the eye in every saga. I have no doubt that there is heaps more behind the Ablett move to Queensland than we will ever know.

There was plenty for a Geelong supporter to be despondent about when we all saw Gary sitting at the press conference announcing his move (I will not say defection) to the Gold Coast. We had to get past the horrible red T-shirt he sat uncomfortably in. But there was also the knowledge that in a few months he will be playing in the more horrible red guernsey. There will be no coming back from that.

We will have to endure seeing him line up against his former team mates with the intention of beating the glorious blue and white hoops he once honoured. We will have to endure the sight of him raising his finger in triumph when he kicks his first goal against his old club, and we will see that gleeful smile he gets when the ball sails through the big sticks; the smile that has a little bit of his tongue pocking through his front teeth. And we will see the trademark point of the finger to the team mate who might have given him the “goal assist”. He will do all of this in a red jumper. It will be excruciating.

But there is a much bigger problem in all of this for all football fans, not just the wounded Geelong supporters. The question I have is how can the Gold Coast afford to pay him all this money if they are operating under the same salary cap as all other clubs? I understand that there will be initial concessions but how is this possible in the longer term? Unfortunately the answer is, because the system has been corrupted.

What has not been detailed in the whole affair is that the Gold Coast cannot afford Gary Ablett. The offer put to him was larger than Geelong’s but not so much larger that it would sway him entirely. No, the slack is being taken up by the shadowy figure that has guided this whole process. That figure is the AFL itself.

If anyone has doubts that the AFL is heavily involved consider how they stage managed (delayed) the announcement so as not to affect their precious Grand Final, think about how they convinced a hapless Ablett to say that he only made his mind up two days ago (if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you) and try to reconcile, as I have, how Gold Coast can possibly afford Ablett and all the other recruiting targets on their list. They can’t.

The AFL has gone after their man for their own “greater good” and to hell with Geelong. The AFL has been searching for something that borders on a guarantee that Gold Coast will work, and that guarantee is Ablett.

How do I know this? The fact of the matter is that I don’t. But I can add up. I do it for a living, and what has become apparent, but certainly not promoted, over the last few days is that the AFL will “sponsor” Ablett (read, pay him a huge amount of money) to be their ambassador in Queensland. They will pay him to leave Geelong.

So you see this is not simply a case of bad luck Geelong, this is a case of bad luck every established club. Your 100 plus years of history means nothing when you confront the steamroller that is the AFL. Your players and culture will be torn to pieces if the AFL wants to get their boy.

There are other high profile players on their list; Pendlebury, Cloke, Martin, Murphy, Roughead…….

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

About Damian O'Donnell

OK - which is the odd one out: Love the Cats and flannelette shirts, especially in winter. I get on extremely well with red wine. We just seem to hit it off. Love horse racing in Spring. Used to love cricket. Go to Stawell every Easter and contemplate life around the fire. Love water skiing, especially in summer. Love a great oil painting. Will read most things put in front of me. Thought 'The Sorpranos' was the best TV show ever made - by miles. Run an accounting practice in Melbourne's suburbs.


  1. Peter Flynn says:

    Nice one Dips.

    I share your views re AFL mitts all over this.

    I understand why currently unaffected AFL expansionists are happy. That’s fine.

    It’s a bit like the old nuclear reactor argument. I’m in favour of a nuclear reactor. Just don’t build one in my electorate.

  2. Clearsighted says:

    Well written, Dips. Add to the dodgy AFL involvement, that of media interests who steer the whole operation. How much funding are they contributing to the GC and GWS? And, in the light of last week’s draw and the financial boon to a certain telly station via an extra GF this week, will this help support the two new clubs created in classsically un-Aussie Rules zones? Or are my conspiracy theories spiralling out of control? And, is Andrew the useless puppet I reckon him to be and was he was given that job (over Brian Cook – can you believe it?) because he will kowtow and speak the speak according to those who are mad and seek power and money over meaning and loyalty? Or am I really stupid to think it could be any other way?
    The behaviour of the hierarchy at Essendon (a club who have always enjoyed special treatment from the AFL – along with a couple of others), is just the tip of the iceberg, but is a reflection of the dirty hands which govern the league.

  3. Didnt see Frank Costa or anyone down at Geelong fighting the good fight on the salary cap plus lions during their three peat.

    In fact seem to recall old Frankie delighting in Brisbane carving up Collingwood …

    This sort of stuff has been going on for years, up to the established clubs to keep it in cheek …

  4. Clearsighted says:

    Apparently Nick, that makes it all right for some.

  5. Dips,
    You are right, we should all be afraid. It is not long before GWS will be doing the same.
    I am still amazed at the amounts of $$ thrown at Israel Falau, who has never played our game.
    (At least the money Ablett Jnr is getting reflects his status as the best player in the game).
    As a North supporter, one of my greatest pleasures was when we thumbed our noses at HQ and
    turned down the buckets of $$ they were throwing at us to entice us to relocate to the Gold Coast.
    Who knows? It may be the rock North perishes on.
    But to this day, I reckon the AFL are amazed, bitter and resentful that North did not sell
    their soul.

  6. George Callum says:

    Had the North Melbourne Football Club followed the now-successful Fitzroy-Brisbane & South Melbourne-Sydney model and moved to the Gold Coast they’re future would now be secured with supporters in both locations.
    Instead their future is uncertain. They’ve poo-ed in the nest everywhere they’ve been (Sydney, Canberra, & the Gold Coast) burning sponsors and supporters, and trashed the game. Now they want to play games out of Hobart!
    Let North perish on the rock, and give the 18th licence to Tassie!!!

  7. Ahh, yes.
    And we know why and who “merged” Fitzroy with Brisbane and sent South to Sydney.
    I don’t remember either of those original clubs having a say in the matter.
    If memory serves me correctly, both Fitzroy and North were willing suitors in
    1996 but the AFL would not hear of it, and so packed the Lions off to Brisbane.
    If North had been assisted in these ventures with even a fraction of the $$ now
    being poured into the Gold Coast and GWS, their nest-pooing may well have smelt
    The Gold Coast Kangaroos would not have been my club.

  8. Dips,

    I thought I was going well till I saw young Gazza on the telly in ‘that’ red shirt.

    I have not felt the feeling since my girl friend smiled at me while holding hands with some other prick on the Gee Whizzer at the Launceston Show when I was 15.

    Dirty Harry said don’t get mad get even.

    So I went straight to the cave and called on the previous Phantoms for advice and have decided to put a curse on the Suns.

    You must note that Phantoms are about truth, justice and fair play so this is not a curse of violent outcome, just a curse of no bloody outcome: for centuries.

  9. Dave Nadel says:

    Absolutely right Smokie. The then VFL sent South to Sydney, despite the fact that the Huggins report called for an expansion team in Sydney, not a relocation. The committee which supported South’s move was sacked and replaced by a Keep South at South group. Then it emerged that the rest of the VFL would not allow South to reverese the previous committee’s decision and South became Sydney against the wishes of South’s members and supporters.

    Yes, the Swans eventually tasted success, but it was nearly a quarter of a century after they were first hijacked. A whole generation of South supporters had probably passed on without seeing their teams home games since 1981.

  10. Stephen Cooke says:

    It was Ablett’s choice. He could have stayed for less money as Selwood chose to do. Selwood knew he would earn the captaincy, Ablett knew the only way he could be made captain was to join the Suns. To most, that would diminish the title, but not to Gaz. As long as he has the (c) beside his name, then he has ticked another box.

    I honestly believe Gaz doesn’t know what he’s got himself in for up north. I won’t wish him good luck with it.

  11. Peter Flynn says:

    G’day Cookie,

    Interesting times.

    Bomber looks as though he’ll resign in the next 24 hours. He’s told Sando he wants out.

    I think it’s a good move for Geelong and a good move for Bomber. Hats off to him.

    I’ve heard that Cloke is to be announced next week as the latest GC recruit.

  12. Flynny – agree. If you’re going to have a clean out, have a clean out.

    Bomber was sensational for Geelong. The right bloke in the right place at the right time. I think his reputation will diminish if he goes to Essendon, especially after his comments about Gazza and the claim he is exhausted. But he hasn’t done it so far so we need to hold off on any judgement.

    Well done Bomber on a job brilliantly done.

    Wonder if the AFL is paying Cloke as well.

  13. Peter Flynn says:


    Pity there’s not a player with the surname Dagger that the GC are interested in.

    I fear for Rooke. He’s a chance to retire.

  14. Dave Nadel says:

    #11 David Cloke, Father and manager of Travis, has been saying all year that Trav isn’t going anywhere.

  15. #14 – Dave, it’s certain then, he’s going.

  16. #3 Nick,

    Well said & a nice balance. People do often have short memories in this caper.

    The rest of the competition stood back and let Ed take on the Lions & the AFL single handedly to finally end the inequitable salary cap concessions that were in place then. Ed’s done a lot of good for the game in general and is due some rewards. Lets hope it comes tomorrow.

    Same story with the ridiculous alternative strip “issue”.

    I do recall Frank taking extra delight in our ultimate failure. On more than one occasion too. Nothing new there. Now before every touchy Cat fan fires up, I am the first to acknowledge Frank’s excellent tenure as President of the Cats and their magnificent record since 2007 (seeds of which were sown years earlier). But it was noted nonetheless.

  17. Jeez, the Collingwood sooks are still on about the Brisbane/Sydney concessions. Get thee to Bunnings.

    Name one player that went to Brisbane for the extra money. Every player for the Premiership years was developed there. And Buckley, went to Collingwood to win GFs. Money wasn’t important to him. Players chose to stay for less money than they could get at other clubs for the opportunity to win Premierships.

    Sydney needed extra allowances to allow for the higher living costs.

    Why isn’t there the same outcry from Eddie about Judd going to Carlton? Surely that is suspicious, or are Carlton and Collingwood cosy?

    The salary cap will always squeeze players out. Some clubs are well-managed, some have ‘space’ at the right time to fit in a marquee player. Why not scrap the system and go to what is working well in the EPL, where only 4 teams have a chance. (Man City to win the League next year, 3rd this year. The owner has made a loss of 120 million Pounds last year. But has a plan!)

    I would rather have a salary cap and a levellish playing field than EPL.

  18. Several of you, with all due respect, are missing the point here. I’m not whinging that Ablett went to Gold Coast because it was inevitable that Geelong would lose players. It’s got nothing to do with Collingwood and Brisbane or what Frank Costa may or may not have said.

    I’m whinging that the AFL, according to my conspiracy theory, has effectively sponsored the move. To my way of thinking thats way outside the normal course of things.

  19. You don’t have to say anything more Dips. They know it’s coming.

    It’s insidious, indiscriminate and inevitable. There’s one coming to your town soon.

    The Jolimont House jokeRs may think it’s funny but I wonder how they would feel if some one they had loved and nurtured were gobbled up, and lost for ever, by some new hard core, white shoed, religous sect that was nurtured and funded by the government to promote a more diversely secular society, but realy for their own self gratification.

    The Cats will do very well out of it in th efuture but others will lose as they close the loop holes.

    Beware the mark of the skull.

  20. Phantom – history repeats, repeats, repeats, repeats……….sorry that’s a bit compulsive.

  21. Stephen Cooke says:

    Phantom, hopefully the AFL staff member that they love that is gobbled up and gone forever is Adrian Anderson.

  22. Stephen Cooke says:

    I had a bit of a think over the weekend – the money certainly appealed to Ablett but I, like many, believe he won’t be as good a player without the protection of senior teammates and is not a true leader/worthy of the captaincy.
    I now believe he wants to go to the Suns to prove his rank as number one player in the competition beyond doubt. He also wants to show his captaincy credentials (not complaining to the umpires several times a game for free kicks, and wanting to play midfield at the expense of what’s best for the team would be a good start.
    This is not sour grapes by the way, I’ve always resented these traits of his).
    Imagine if he changes his game like Judd and is still a force without Bartel, Corey, Selwood etc blocking and helping. If he proves that then the move would be worth it for him.

  23. Did get the impression Thompson was unduly harsh on him which may have been a factor.

    Also wonder how close he is with those within the club? Dont sense there is a great closeness, commitment or love there so made the decision pretty easy for him.

    Gary’s maybe also one of those more individual people within the football community and not as much a team player as some, so once again makes the decision a bit easier.

    Such is life.

  24. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear is that Kevin Sheedy I hear?

    Chortling the first chords of the magpie swan song in my ear.

  25. Andrew Fithall says:

    As everyone knows, Phantom – magpies don’t chortle, they carol. However loud and long Sheedy chortles, no magpie (let alone a swan-magpie) will be able to interpret whatever it is he is trying to say. Having said that, most humans will have no idea what Sheedy is trying to say either.

  26. Andrew,

    Sheeds speaks through an inflated fiscal throat. Everyone understands that lingo.

    You could buy a lot of tats with that kinda kanga.

    It’s the old head and tail amputation process for premiers.

    The AFL systematically whips off your head while dissatisfaction at not getting to many bookings in your card for the main dance deminishes your tail.

    Nobody will remain a wall flower for long in these turbulent times.

    They say as soon as you are born you start to die.

    Welcome to Cat World. Enjoy the ride.

  27. John Butler says:

    People of the Cats’ intelligentsia,

    So who do you fancy as Bomber’s replacement?

    And what do you make of his departure?

  28. JB – I reckon Sanderson is the logical replacement. There are plenty who think he will make a good fist of it, and he is ready to inject new blood.

    Bomber’s departure was handled extremely well. I can’t see him turning up at Essendon despite the media’s insistence. (Does anyone doing footy writing do any research or do they self research – ie peer into their own navel). He’s had enough. He needs to go. Will go down in history at Geelong as a masterful coach.

  29. Craig Down says:


    I think I’ve worked out who is on the “no” list. Choco and Neeld.

    As for the others, whilst Id be happy with either Hinkley or Sanderson, Ive got a soft spot for the chances of C Scott (running a genetic form line through his brother!)

    Agree with Dips comments on the Bomber departure.


  30. John Butler says:

    Does anyone think the Gazza situation played a part in his burn out?

    Dips, I think you’re right, if a rebuild is necessary, it makes sense to do it with the bloke who’ll live with the consequences.

  31. Craig – I don’t want a Scott in charge. Too bloody dour for mine. Kenny Hinkley, Sando, McCartney or even Dean Laidley would be OK.

    Agree on Choco and Neeld.

  32. Peter Flynn says:

    #30 Wouldn’t have helped. I rate Thompson highly.

    #29 Not long to Oaks Day. I also like C Scott as next coach. Wouldn’t mind if Hinkley left GC to coach Geelong.

    Maybe Geelong needs a gesticulating fire-and-brimstone coach like John Devine!

  33. Craig Down says:

    Flynnie et al

    32 – I hope you’ve got the card table ready.

    Was at the B&F last Thursday (and, by absolute fluke – walking in after Balmey – at the after party). J Selwood spoke like a bloke ready to step into large shoes (should they become vacant) over the summer. Bomber spoke like a bloke who had had enough.

    Heading out to Caulfield this Saturday to, hopefully, watch the Pride of the Bool, Moudre, salute in the Herbert Power.


  34. Peter Flynn says:

    I’ll be having a few in the Ming Dynasty Bar and then heading to Bendigo just after the last.


  35. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Dips, as distressing as it must be for Geelong supporters I am fascinated to see how Ablett will go with the Suns. I would go north for that amount of money too. I thought Bomber was below the belt in criticisng Ablett during the year. Football is a business and players are allowed to swap clubs. The other clubs agreed to grant the licence to the new team.Yes, fans are in for a big shock an change.The AFL seem to be prepared to spend any amount of money to make the new ventures successful. Whether it destroys the fabric of football remains to be seen. As someone living north of the Murray and suffering football deprivation syndrom,e I’m excited about seeing more football in the regiopn. I share your fear about Melbourne clubs being affected though. I can’t see how they are all going to survive. Perhaps this is part of the agenda. Time will tell

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