Gary Ablett is back at Geelong. The deal was done on the final day of the AFL trade Period, so after seven years up north with Gold Coast Suns, the 33-year-old dual Brownlow Medallist and two-time premiership winner will play again in the famous blue-and-white hoops.
Ablett's father Gary Snr was of course a club legend. The Geelong club is indelibly linked to the Ablett clan. But there's football family and family family, and it's family of the flesh-and-blood type which has undoubtedly been the strongest lure behind Ablett's return.
"Sixteen years on [from the start of his career], now married and looking to start a family, my priorities have shifted. I need to be around my family back home, who I have spent the last 7 years doing long distance with.
My sisters, my brother, and parents all play a huge role in my life, and it's time that I make myself more available to them and others back home.
I am at a stage in my career where I need to get the balance right between footy and life outside of football, and the recent break period has allowed me the time that I needed to put certain things in place."
Tragically, in the brief period between that column and Thursday's announcement of his homecoming, Ablett's sister Natasha died from a suspected drug overdose. She had been receiving treatment through a Geelong area psychiatric unit.
While Ablett now starts a new phase of his personal life, fans hope he gets a new lease on life onfield too, and sparks Geelong to step up from premiership contenders to premiership winners.
Geelong won three flags between 2007 and 2011, and have remained an AFL powerhouse. But they've fallen one game short of the Grand Final for the past two seasons despite the acquisition of superstar Patrick Dangerfield.
With Dangerfield, captain Joel Selwood and Ablett in the midfield, fans have already begun to drool.
Gary Ablett Jnr + Patrick Dangerfield + Joel Selwood— Joshua Kay (@js_kay) 19 de outubro de 2017
6x AFLPA MVP
4x AFLCA POY
3x Brownlow (580 votes)
For now, the important thing is not how Gary Ablett plays footy in 2018, but how he supports his family.
"This week has been an emotional roller coaster, however, hearing that I will be returning home has brought both myself and my family some joy during what has been a difficult and painful time," he wrote in another column this week before the trade had officially gone through.
All fans and indeed all Australians wish him well.Suggest a correction