Round 17 – Geelong v St Kilda: An Open Letter to Gary Ablett Junior


Geelong v St Kilda

7:25pm Saturday, July 13

Kardinia Park




Dear Gary,


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 say 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.


You’ve changed.


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, Ratugolea, 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


Crowd: 24,035 at GMHBA Stadium




About Anna Pavlou

Anna 'Pav' Pavlou is a current student and a born and bred Melburnian who has a passion for sport and sharing people's stories. She is an intern journalist for AFL VICTORIA and writes for The Roar, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA Media), the Mongrel Punt and is a Melbourne Cricket Club contributor. She also appears on North West FM 98.9 radio show. Most winter weekends you'll find her down at the Ross Gregory Oval in St Kilda, supporting Power House FC, who play in Division 2 in the VAFA. She works as the Division 2 writer for the VAFA. She completed work experience with 3AW Radio and has been published in The Age as well as with Carlton FC and Geelong Cats. Check out her website below for more sport pieces!


  1. loved this article 100% on the money

  2. Great open letter. There is something about Geelong that does seep inside you. For me,71 this month,it was Ablett Snr but jnr… The Genius….is as good to watch.

  3. Robyn Olsen says

    So right he is a different player to his Dad but every bit as good and exciting. Thanks to all the Ablett family for so many wonderful football memories.

  4. Wonderful, Anna.

    I have been watching football for almost 50 years, and have seen some truly great players. Indeed, as a North supporter, I have rejoiced in 4 premierships and watched some champions in the blue and white stripes.

    But I believe that Gary Ablett Jnr is the best footballer I have ever seen.

  5. Well said Smokie, Gazza is indeed a fabulous player and is not finished. As a Norwood supporter for 62 years (I’m now 76) I too have seen numerous champions. Probably the most exciting of them was Greg Turbill but, due to bad knee injuries hampering him, was unable to progress to Victoria where, I believe, he would have been a sensation.

    These days, watching Ablett Jr and Dangerfield combine at Geelong is a real delight for me – that Kelly’s not bad either.

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