Gary Ablett’s final AFL game did not quite go to plan as the Geelong veteran’s last hurrah fell short of a fairytale ending in heartbreaking circumstances at The Gabba.
In his 357th game before retiring, Ablett had a nightmare start, injuring his left shoulder in the opening minutes against Richmond.
The 36-year-old was led off the field by Cats medical staff after suffering the injury in an awkward tackle by Tigers star Trent Cotchin in the first quarter.
Ablett injures shoulder minutes into AFL grand final
Ablett was grimacing on his way to the sheds, as fears grew that his final AFL game would end right there.
But in a bid to become the fourth-oldest Premiership-wining player in VFL/AFL history, he dug deep to return to the game.
Just before the end of the first quarter Ablett came back out with his shoulder heavily strapped to huge cheers from the adoring Brisbane crowd.
At three-quarter time, Ablett appeared to still be in severe pain as he rushed to the sheds to consult team doctors again after copping several heavy knocks in the game.
In a brave display, somehow Ablett was able to continue playing in the final quarter to finish with 12 disposals, however Geelong just couldn’t stop the surging Tigers.
Across the park Richmond were simply too good against the Cats, as they claimed a 81-50 victory for back-to-back Premierships and their third flag in four years.
Ablett was seen in tears moments after the final siren, and despite the rivalry several players from both sides gave their respect to the retiring champion footy player.
“There’s a little bald bloke over there. We’d just want to say we love you and want to thank you for what you’ve done for the game,” Geelong captain Joel Selwood said before Richmond were presented with the Premiership cup.
After the trophy presentation Richmond paused their celebrations as both the Tigers and Geelong gathered near the tunnel to give Ablett a touching guard of honour.
Ablett was met with a rousing, standing ovation at The Gabba, and again brought to tears again as he walked off the ground, still cradling his injured left shoulder.