2001 was of course the mega draft, a draft that gave us the likes of Luke Hodge, Chris Judd, Luke Ball, Sam Mitchel Hodgey, Jimmy Bartel, Nick Dal Santo and Gary Ablett.
Ablett was something of an unknown, being from an unknown family, certainly no one knew if his dad could play or not.
The wraps were on his younger brother, 12 at the time, but already three heads taller than Gary.
Some thought he might be able to string a few games together, maybe drop a mark on an ageing full back and somehow manage to win mark of the century.
With those golden locks there was no doubt shampoo commercials would be doing the rounds, and the nuggety forward pocket, everybody knew, would never leave the Cats.
Well, maybe not nuggety, more fragile, but 20 years on this writer is ready to admit, those shampoo commercials are probably never going to hit our screens.
Gary Ablett, in two weeks, may just win his third premiership, that’s three more than dad, though they will be equal in grand final appearances.
His brother Nathan on the other hand, never lost a grand final, appearing with Gary in the 2007 triumph.
Three Premierships, one Brownlow, plenty of bests and fairests, a similar amount of Leigh Matthews medals, eight consecutive All Australians – it’s quite the dossier.
But this article is not all about hair, or the lack of it; it seeks to point out that there is one glaring stroke missing from the repertoire.
Gary is yet to have around his neck a Norm Smith Medal. He’s had probably more best on grounds than any other player, but not when it counts most.
In 2008, had the Cats have won, it would have been his, but now 13 seasons later, this, it seems, is his last chance.
So what does Gary, or moreover Brad Scott, have to do, for the Suns’ favourite son, to win that elusive Normy.
First on the list, and I think this is important, they must make the grand final. Second, selecting Gary will help. After that its anyone’s guess, but let me offer a suggestion.
Play Gary on Dusty, and let them go at it. Have some chap constantly knee Dusty in the thigh, over and over again, til it turns blue (and that gentleman is probably in hospital courtesy of a well timed fend off) and there Gary will have a chance of doing that Gary thing.
He can motor away with a handball fake and a measured kick to Tommy ‘I’m the best forward in the league’ Hawkins.
Also I’ve never seen Gary as a one on one defender, but if he can master it on grand final day, then surely he deserves the Norm.
Why not play Gary as the decoy full forward, with Tommy ‘overrated’ Hawkins in the pocket, bullocking everyone out of Gazza’s way?
Tell Paddy ‘Im not Irish’ Dangerfield only to kick to Gary, and Joel ‘I don’t duck’ Selwood to blast anyone who dares ask Gary to pass to them inside the forward 50.
No, if Geelong lose and Ablett kicks 6, he’ll win the Normy and thats what counts.
After all, in 20 years, the Cats of 2020 will just be another premiership team, or not; but Gary Ablett will still be a legend, and by then, an official AFL legend.
He will last the test of time, so c’mon boys, let’s get him some Norm form.
Gary Ablett might not say it much, but after cutting his hair, he lost much of his strength, but has kept battling for another 15 years, so here’s hoping that he walks away on that big day in September with two medals around his neck.