The name Ablett is synonymous with greatness at the Geelong Football Club. At the end of the 2001 AFL season the Cats were able to pick up the young, slightly reserved son of arguably the games greatest player of the past 25 years.
“We have signed Gary (Ablett Jr) to a three-year deal,” the club’s chief executive officer, Brian Cook said. “In return for recruiting him under the father/son rule we have had to give up our third round draft pick (Pick 40).”
Ablett was special but it appeared he was burdened with carrying the name of one of the all time greats in the small town of Geelong. With a sense of purpose and destiny that places him amongst the elite footballers of his generation, it’s easy to forget that he had a considerably slow start to his AFL career.
The greatly anticipated son of club and AFL legend Gary Ablett Snr, Ablett Jr at times appeared unwilling to commit himself to the rigours and training of AFL football and was content with being a good player.
In the years following he cemented his position in the Cats forward line leading the club for tackles and inside 50’s in 2003. In 2004 he continued this form leading the club for tackles (93) and kicked a career high 35 goals, helping the Cats reach the preliminary final losing to Brisbane by 9 points. Ablett would go on to win the Cats best Team and Most Constructive player award.
His and the Cats form would continue in 2005 climaxing in the bitter disappointment of a close preliminary final loss against the Swans.
2006 brought hope for a young side expected to push into the top 4. However team disunity would lead the Cats to managing only 10 wins for the season. Ablett would continue in the forward line up until the bitter disappointment of the 2006 season where he would finish third in the Carji Greeves Medal (the clubs best and fairest medal) for the second consecutive season and lead the Cats goal kicking tally with a 35 goal season.
Under the leadership of CEO Brian Cook the football department undertook a wide review with Coach Mark Thompson barley scrapping through with his job. In an interview with Kevin Sheedy during the 2008 season Thompson said of the review.
“The whole process was pretty crappy, to be honest,” he said of the process being made public by CEO Brian Cook and President Frank Costa ” I haven’t got a problem with the findings, but just the process I was filthy on. Too long, too public.”
“It is pretty embarrassing for everyone at the football club, saying that, it is a good result now.”
Neil Balme was bought into the fold becoming Football Manager and former player and now Adelaide Football Club Coach Brenton Sanderson was lured back to the Cattery as an assistant coach.
The Cats also introduced the widely regarded Ray Mclean leadership model that had been in place at successful clubs in the past few seasons. The leadership group put the onus on Ablett to become more than a good player and develop the work ethic off the track to utilise his considerable natural talents on the field, believing he had the natural ability to become the next Chris Judd.
In an article in the SMH by Len Johnson on February 15, 2007 Ablett said “I want to step up my role over the next couple of years.”
And he did leading the Geelong football Club to three consecutive grand final appearances with victory in 07 & 09. He would also win three consecutive Leigh Matthews Trophys (07, 08 & 09) being judged by his peers as the best player in the game, winning the Carji Greeves Medal in 07 & 09 and finally win that elusive “Charlie” winning the 2009 Brownlow Medal.
The 2010 season would be long with speculation mounting Ablett had accepted an offer to head North and play for the AFL’s newest franchise the Gold Coast Suns. The rift between Ablett and Coach Mark Thompson grew throughout the season with the team losing in the preliminary final to eventual Premiers Collingwood despite playing a memorable game picking up 40 touches. Both would leave the club at the end of the season.
Ablett would move to the Gold Coast on reported big money and become its inaugural captain in a difficult year where the Suns would finish last on the ladder. Ablett would go onto win the Suns inaugural club best and fairest award. However the Cats would go onto winning their 3rd Grand Final in 5 years under the leadership of Chris Scott. The Cats remarkable record extending back 8 years failing to make the finals just once in that time, a truly remarkable accomplishment.
Dangerfield on the other hand was touted as a running half back prior to getting drafted back at the end of 2007. Despite alerting clubs to the fact he intended to spend the entirety of the 2008 AFL season at home focusing on his studies the Crows were not deterred and Matt Rendell selected the Dangerfield at pick 10. He immediately showed his brilliance dominating the contested ball but failed to cover the ground and pick up loose ball around the ground.
In an interview conducted by Katrina Gill in 2011, Rendell said “I put Patty really high in my rankings that year. [Former coach] Neil Craig liked us recruiters to put the players in order, which I was happy to do … but to make sure I got Patty I put him really high up in front of a heap of others just in case some other guys slipped through. I even had him in front of (No.2 pick) Trent Cotchin. Matthew Kreuzer was the standout No.1, so I put Patty second.”
“The guys we’ve had through include Jonathan Brown, Luke Hodge, Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel and Cameron Ling, and Dangerfield is as good as any of the players I’ve seen coming out of the program.” Falcons football manager Michael Turner said.
The statistics of both players makes for interesting reading. Dangerfield to date has played 89 games and is now coming into his 6th season at the Adelaide Crows. However he has only been at the club full-time for the past 5 after remaining at home and playing only 2 games in his first season.
Ablett on the other hand played 100 games in his first 5 seasons, predominantly as a small forward.
Both Ablett and Dangerfield started their AFL careers as forwards who moved into the Midfield. Both are tremendous contested ball winners and have the ability to burst from congestion.
After 89 games in 6 season (5 seasons full-time in Adelaide) Dangerfield averaged 18.25 possessions per game. Ablett averaged 15.17 possessions per game after 5 seasons (2002-2006).
Many will highlight Dangerfield’s tremendous 2012 as a breakout year polling 23 votes in the Brownlow as well as an All-Australian award, the potential for him to continue to grow as a player and reach the top level of the games elite is not beyond reach in 2013. Only turning 23 this April and with another solid preseason under his belt, Dangerfield could become the most explosive player in the competition in 2013.
2013 Fantasy Potential – Quick Stats
From round 17 – 23 Dangerfield scored in DreamTeam, 118, 111, 130, 137, 108, 105 and 136 (ave. 845/7 = 120.7 ppg*)
SuperCoach from Round 16-23 he scored 110, 138, 133, 127, 187, 134, 106 and 169. (ave.1104/8 = 138ppg*)