Analysis The Ablett Effect

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GC2015

Norm Smith Medallist
May 27, 2013
6,574
8,134
AFL Club
Gold Coast


In 1995 the NBA awarded its 28th franchise to the Canadian city Toronto in the hopes of capitalising on its new found global popularity due mostly to the rise of Michael Jordan as a global superstar. Canada was not known at all for its basketball exports at the time and was very much a country obsessed with ice hockey. Toronto in particular was known for passionate supporters of the local Maple Leafs NHL team and virtually no other sport could get a look in at the time. This was always going to be an uphill battle for the NBA but something very significant occurred in Toronto's third year in the league...

The Toronto Raptors acquired Vince Carter in the 1998 NBA draft. This coincided with the retirement of Michael Jordan and the NBA was looking for a new star/face of the league. Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson were leading the charge in terms of ability but Vince Carter had something those other players didn't... Vince Carter could fly. Not literally, but quite possibly the closest thing we've ever seen to a human flying through the air. Carter would really stamp himself as must see TV when he entered (and dominated) the NBA's slam dunk competition in the year 2000. People were calling him Vinsanity, Air Canada, Half Man - Half Amazing etc. Carter made the Toronto Raptors interesting in their formative years when they weren't qualifying for the playoffs and was instrumental in inspiring a generation of Canadians to take up basketball instead of ice hockey. He would regularly show up and open new basketball courts around the city of Toronto and gave the youth an opportunity to play basketball when they would have otherwise played ice hockey or pursued something else.

So... what happened? Sadly, Carter was traded in 2004 but his seven years in Toronto were enough to create a significant shift in the city of Toronto's sports preferences. In 2011, 14 years after Carter began his career at the Raptors, Toronto native Tristan Thompson became the first Canadian player to be taken with a lottery draft pick (top 14) when Cleveland selected him with pick 5. Two years later another Toronto native Anthony Bennett becomes the first Canadian player to be selected with the first selection in the NBA draft. Shockingly, 12 months later another Toronto native in Andrew Wiggins becomes Canada's second player to be selected with the number 1 selection in the NBA draft. It continued in 2019 when we saw Toronto native RJ Barrett drafted to the NY Knicks with pick 3. A generational change in a market tends to take between 10-20 years so this is in line with that theory.

Toronto is regularly producing high end NBA talent at this point in time, but what about the Raptors? Well, they would also reach the ultimate success in 2019 when they went on one of the craziest playoffs runs of all time to claim their first ever NBA Championship. To cap it all off, the Canadian national team defeated the United States at the FIBA World Cup earlier this year and claimed its first top level international competition medal in close to 100 years. 10/12 players that played for Canada in the FIBA World Cup this year came from Greater Toronto. Canada has arrived as a basketball nation and its mostly due to players from Toronto who were very likely inspired by Vince Carter when he was playing for the Raptors. This is often referred to as The Carter Effect and you can see the documentary video above.

What's this got to do with Ablett? Gary Ablett Jr was the best player/face of the AFL when he decided to join an expansion franchise on the Gold Coast. At the time, the Gold Coast was considered rugby league heartland and Aussie rules only had a niche following within the community. However, the footy Ablett produced in those early years while wearing the red and gold was scintillating and may even be the best few years of football we've ever seen from any player in the history of the game. He was an irresistible force to the point that it seemed like no one could stop him at the time and you couldn't help but tune in to marvel at his efforts. Importantly, he made the Suns interesting in their formative years when there wasn't a lot else to get excited about. He gave the youth of the Gold Coast a reason to try footy when they would have previously been directed towards another sport like rugby league. Ablett spent seven years on the Gold Coast (just like Carter in Toronto) and although he returned to Geelong in the end, recent evidence is starting to suggest he had a similar effect on the youth of the Gold Coast.

12 years after Ablett started his career at the Suns we see Gold Coast native Will Ashcroft come through as the best junior in the land and he has been quoted as saying Ablett inspired him to work as hard as he did in his younger years. A year later we see three Gold Coast natives being selected in the top 15 picks of the draft and there is photographic evidence of all three as kids attending games while Ablett was captaining the side. Two of them even went as far as to say Ablett was their idol growing up in their pre-draft interviews. These three players plus several other Gold Coasters played significant roles in the Allies historic U18 National Championships win this year as well.

To put it in perspective, we hadn't seen the Gold Coast produce a first round pick in over 20 years prior to 2022 and it would only be one in any given season if it did happen 20+ years ago. Another GC native is expected to be drafted in the first round next year and it's been much publicised that there were five Gold Coast natives named in the U16 AA team this year. It should also be mentioned that several new Aussie rules ovals have been built on the Gold Coast over the last decade just like the basketball courts that were built in Toronto after Vince Carter made a name for himself.

So, do you believe in The Ablett Effect? Did Gary Ablett Jr change the fortunes of footy on the Gold Coast forever and are we now seeing the fruits of that labour?
 
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The facts are that Gazzza Jrn was a terrible captain at GC with all his Jesus s**t and divided the playing group.
But no journo will ever write about that.

Few years later after he left, the club found its soul and has built on it..without the born again Christian crap infiltrating the business of football.
 

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The facts are that Gazzza Jrn was a terrible captain at GC with all his Jesus s**t and divided the playing group.
But no journo will ever write about that.

Few years later after he left, the club found its soul and has built on it..without the born again Christian crap infiltrating the business of football.
Maybe if more of their players turned to Jesus instead of drugs they’d have been more successful.
 
GAJ set GCS back years. He cared about 2 things - Brownlows and leeching as much money from the AFL as possible.

GAJ should be above criticsm, given his father was one of the most toxic and self-destructive figures to have lived on this planet.

GAJ was motivated (I believe) moving to the Gold Coast mostly to help try and pay for his family aka siblings issues, esp his poor late sister Natasha, cause his parents seemingly could not.

Not saying GAJ is a Saint by any means, but he clearly is/was close/devoted to his family..

I have no doubt he wanted to play his entire career at Geelong, but the extensive cost of paying for sick people like his late sister is far more costly than you may think.

Gaz was also the only reason people watched/turned up to games in Gold Coast's formative years.

This whole narrative of GAJ being a money grabbing mercenary doesn't hold wash with me for a second..

Just because GAJ is one of the most talented and gifted footballers who has ever played the game doesn't mean his life is flawless or he is a money chasing grub.

Easy to make assumptions or cast assertions on someone who haven't even met.

I do like and enjoy your posts mostly HairyO bur feel like you are off the mark in this instance
 
GAJ should be above criticsm, given his father was one of the most toxic and self-destructive figures to have lived on this planet.

GAJ was motivated (I believe) moving to the Gold Coast mostly to help try and pay for his family aka siblings issues, esp his poor late sister Natasha, cause his parents seemingly could not.

Not saying GAJ is a Saint by any means, but he clearly is/was close/devoted to his family..

I have no doubt he wanted to play his entire career at Geelong, but the extensive cost of paying for sick people like his late sister is far more costly than you may think.

Gaz was also the only reason people watched/turned up to games in Gold Coast's formative years.

This whole narrative of GAJ being a money grabbing mercenary doesn't hold wash with me for a second..

Just because GAJ is one of the most talented and gifted footballers who has ever played the game doesn't mean his life is flawless or he is a money chasing grub.

Easy to make assumptions or cast assertions on someone who haven't even met.

I do like and enjoy your posts mostly HairyO bur feel like you are off the mark in this instance
Lil gaz no doubt was pressured big time by his father too. Gary Snr was broke and no help to the family financial conundrums.

I believe lil gaz sacrificed his future glorious GFC career to pay the bills for things his famous father had no way of taking care of.

Let’s never forget that Gary Snr had a young girl in his hotel room overdose on heroin ffs. She died while hanging out with the “legend” and his pathetic drug habits.

Gary Snr is a nutcase piece of s**t.
 
GAJ should be above criticsm, given his father was one of the most toxic and self-destructive figures to have lived on this planet.

GAJ was motivated (I believe) moving to the Gold Coast mostly to help try and pay for his family aka siblings issues, esp his poor late sister Natasha, cause his parents seemingly could not.

Not saying GAJ is a Saint by any means, but he clearly is/was close/devoted to his family..

I have no doubt he wanted to play his entire career at Geelong, but the extensive cost of paying for sick people like his late sister is far more costly than you may think.

Gaz was also the only reason people watched/turned up to games in Gold Coast's formative years.

This whole narrative of GAJ being a money grabbing mercenary doesn't hold wash with me for a second..

Just because GAJ is one of the most talented and gifted footballers who has ever played the game doesn't mean his life is flawless or he is a money chasing grub.

Easy to make assumptions or cast assertions on someone who haven't even met.

I do like and enjoy your posts mostly HairyO bur feel like you are off the mark in this instance
He was payed 1.7 million a year to play for Gold Coast…. Tell me one player in the league who would have turned down that offer… nobody in the league has ever been offered anything remotely close to that.
 

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The facts are that Gazzza Jrn was a terrible captain at GC with all his Jesus s**t and divided the playing group.
But no journo will ever write about that.

Few years later after he left, the club found its soul and has built on it..without the born again Christian crap infiltrating the business of football.

Yep, It’s been a non-stop freight train of success since he left for the Suns.
 
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GAJ should be above criticsm, given his father was one of the most toxic and self-destructive figures to have lived on this planet.

GAJ was motivated (I believe) moving to the Gold Coast mostly to help try and pay for his family aka siblings issues, esp his poor late sister Natasha, cause his parents seemingly could not.

Not saying GAJ is a Saint by any means, but he clearly is/was close/devoted to his family..

I have no doubt he wanted to play his entire career at Geelong, but the extensive cost of paying for sick people like his late sister is far more costly than you may think.

Gaz was also the only reason people watched/turned up to games in Gold Coast's formative years.

This whole narrative of GAJ being a money grabbing mercenary doesn't hold wash with me for a second..

Just because GAJ is one of the most talented and gifted footballers who has ever played the game doesn't mean his life is flawless or he is a money chasing grub.

Easy to make assumptions or cast assertions on someone who haven't even met.

I do like and enjoy your posts mostly HairyO bur feel like you are off the mark in this instance

He front loaded his GCS contract and left as the money dropped.

As captain he invited all the players out for coffee then made them pay for themselves. He was on $2 million and many were on $60k.

Geelong would have paid $1m a year to keep him. You really think he needed more than this? He wanted it.

There are big differences between wants and needs.

But yes, the family are mostly grubs. I do agree there.
 
Well, this thread took an unexpected twist. It was intended to spark conversation about the generational change of sporting preferences we're now seeing come to the fore on the Gold Coast and how Ablett played a big role in that. Instead everyone just wants to discuss Ablett's leadership, contract and religious beliefs.

Go figure 🤷
 
Well, this thread took an unexpected twist. It was intended to spark conversation about the generational change of sporting preferences we're now seeing come to the fore on the Gold Coast and how Ablett played a big role in that. Instead everyone just wants to discuss Ablett's leadership, contract and religious beliefs.

Go figure 🤷
I for one thought you put together a very well thought out OP with good arguments. Responses so far are mostly typical main board trash.

If recent draftees have specifically cited Ablett as a reason they enhanced their love of footy and with more good younger prospects coming through after a long absence of draftees from the GC as you cite, than the Ablett Effect may very well be a thing.

Cheers to the Suns. Really like what they are building.
 
He front loaded his GCS contract and left as the money dropped.

As captain he invited all the players out for coffee then made them pay for themselves. He was on $2 million and many were on $60k.

Geelong would have paid $1m a year to keep him. You really think he needed more than this? He wanted it.

There are big differences between wants and needs.

But yes, the family are mostly grubs. I do agree there.

You wouldn’t change organisations to do the exact same job for an extra $700k a year?

What a stupid argument.
 
Well, this thread took an unexpected twist. It was intended to spark conversation about the generational change of sporting preferences we're now seeing come to the fore on the Gold Coast and how Ablett played a big role in that. Instead everyone just wants to discuss Ablett's leadership, contract and religious beliefs.

Go figure 🤷
I for one enjoyed your opening post!

Responses seem to be focusing on whether he was a good captain or human being rather than your premise of whether he gained positive off-field attention for the Suns while he was up there, and in turn whether his influence brought people into the game that otherwise would have gone into other sports. Anecdotally it seems like the answer to both questions is yes.

In any case, some of the footy he played while he was up there was just impossibly good.
 
GAJ should be above criticsm, given his father was one of the most toxic and self-destructive figures to have lived on this planet.

GAJ was motivated (I believe) moving to the Gold Coast mostly to help try and pay for his family aka siblings issues, esp his poor late sister Natasha, cause his parents seemingly could not.

Not saying GAJ is a Saint by any means, but he clearly is/was close/devoted to his family..

I have no doubt he wanted to play his entire career at Geelong, but the extensive cost of paying for sick people like his late sister is far more costly than you may think.

Gaz was also the only reason people watched/turned up to games in Gold Coast's formative years.

This whole narrative of GAJ being a money grabbing mercenary doesn't hold wash with me for a second..
The last sentence you wrote above here Elmer is the exact opposite of the words you wrote before it.

Gary cared not one iota for GC. He was a terrible captain and team mate at GC and did nothing for the club and his colleagues.

He was there to make coin. Whether it was for family or not I’m not sure. He was a mercenary, not there to win a flag, but for the coin.

Gary showed incredible skill and will to be the best player in the comp for several years living with the pressure of his fathers on field and off field exploits.

His family circumstances are really unfortunate.
He’s got a grub of a dad and had a horrible family situation as a result of the selfish ways of his father.

It’s no wonder Nathan gave up football at such a young age, he just wanted out of that family and what they represented. Gary on the other hand thought that the answer was moving to another part of the country.

I feel for the pull that Gary Snr had over Gary and his siblings lives.

I genuinely hope Nathan and Gary are happy in their own lives now and the pressure of being Snrs kids have faded somewhat for them as people.
 
I for one thought you put together a very well thought out OP with good arguments. Responses so far are mostly typical main board trash.

If recent draftees have specifically cited Ablett as a reason they enhanced their love of footy and with more good younger prospects coming through after a long absence of draftees from the GC as you cite, than the Ablett Effect may very well be a thing.

Cheers to the Suns. Really like what they are building.
I for one enjoyed your opening post!

Responses seem to be focusing on whether he was a good captain or human being rather than your premise of whether he gained positive off-field attention for the Suns while he was up there, and in turn whether his influence brought people into the game that otherwise would have gone into other sports. Anecdotally it seems like the answer to both questions is yes.

In any case, some of the footy he played while he was up there was just impossibly good.
That's probably what my OP was missing. Proof of Ablett's influence on the highly rated Gold Coast juniors that have been drafted recently.

"Those Gold Coast years definitely set me up to build a base and propel me on to bigger and better things here. I spent a lot of time at the Suns and using their facilities when I was really young. Seeing what guys like Gary Ablett and Touk Miller got up to was pretty cool."
Pick 2 Will Ashcroft, October 2022

"I think growing up, it was Gary Ablett. When he came to the Suns, that's when I really started to invest into football and then cause he was on the Gold Coast, it was sort of just easy to follow him. With him being as successful as he was, he sort of became a bit of my idol."
Pick 14 Jake Rogers, November 2023

I'm fairly sure I read either Jed Walter or Ethan Read also state in a pre-draft interview that Ablett was their favourite player growing up but I can't find the quote at the moment. Anyway, it's not hard to see why many Suns fans/Gold Coast people who are now draft eligible grew up idolising Ablett because of their age at the time and the standard of footy Ablett was able to produce then. Even pick 6 Ryley Sanders, who grew up supporting the Suns because of a connection his dad had to the club, admitted that Ablett was his hero growing up and still cherishes his memory of running out with the Suns/Ablett when he was younger.

"Dad coached a few of the boys that went there, so they gave me lots of gear when Dad would catch up with them. And Gary Ablett’s just my all-time favourite. I just love him. He’s an absolute jet."
"To meet one of my heroes was really cool. I was only around eight or nine, but that was an unreal experience. We ran out and Gary stopped at the banner to wait for everyone – and I ran through! So I ran through then stopped, looked behind and thought ‘where is everyone?’ And then they came running through. It was cool."

Pick 6 Ryley Sanders, November 2023


To tie it back to the Vince Carter example, here are some quotes from the Toronto natives that were drafted with high end picks 10+ years after Carter began his career at the Raptors:

"I always tell Vince when I see him, and people in Toronto, that Vince Carter was my Michael Jordan. He was the guy who made me fall in love with the game, made me think basketball was cool. My original love was soccer until Vince Carter came around."
2011 Pick 4 Tristan Thompson

When asked who influenced his basketball journey the most, Bennett said "It wasn’t the Canadians, it was probably Vince Carter [who made the difference]. He was from Toronto – well, he played on the Raptors. Just watching him play was crazy… the crazy dunks he did in games, that’s how Carter got me."
2013 Pick 1 Anthony Bennett

"As a kid growing up from the city, just loving basketball growing up, Vince was the OG of Canada basketball. Even though he weren't Canadian, we didn't view it like that. We weren't like, 'oh, he's American.' To us, he was Canadian basketball."
2014 Pick 1 Andrew Wiggins
 
Well, this thread took an unexpected twist. It was intended to spark conversation about the generational change of sporting preferences we're now seeing come to the fore on the Gold Coast and how Ablett played a big role in that. Instead everyone just wants to discuss Ablett's leadership, contract and religious beliefs.

Go figure 🤷

Did he though? In AFL circles he was a big signing. For Gold Coast Karmicheal-hunt was the name most of SE QLD would have recognised. So I think Hunt had the far greater marketability than GAJ.

Ablett really did bugger all in promoting the game in qld. Brisbane still gets 90% of AFL coverage in SE QLD, While Gold Coast would be lucky to get 5% with the rest dedicated to all the other teams. If Ablett had that effect than they would be getting more by now,

i think that the GAJ effect is overrated a lot like GAJ the player.
 

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