How the Suns signed AFL’s biggest player
THE Gold Coast Suns made history yesterday when the city's inaugural AFLW team takes to the field.
It was a moment of great significance and comes a decade after the Suns' AFL side was in its fledging stages.
The team didn't enter the national competition until 2011 but spent the previous year putting its line-up together and that included naming a captain.
Gary Ablett famously was the inaugural leader and was poached from Geelong in September 2010 following the finals.
But it was six months earlier than the Gold Coast got a taste of what it would be like to have one of Aussie Rules' greatest players here on the Glitter Strip.
In March 2010 the Gold Coast Bulletin threw a cat among the pigeons, creating a mock-up poster showing Ablett in Suns colours and printing it for the public bearing the tagline "dare to dream".
The tongue-in-cheek image proved to be a bombshell for the AFL world.
Its publication set off a furious reaction from Geelong management and was later tagged by football fans as "Gazzagate".
Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said the post was a "clear contravention of the rules" and "clearly an ad for Gold Coast Football Club".
''The advertisement uses the intellectual property of Gary Ablett without his permission,'' the statement said.
''We look forward to the AFL, the AFLPA (AFL Players Association) and IMG, Gary's management company, taking the appropriate action following this clear contravention of the rules.''
But the AFL hit back and said there was no case to answer.
''To my understanding it is not an ad (for the Gold Coast Football Club),'' AFL spokesman Patrick Keane told the Bulletin.
Club boss Travis Auld also insisted he was not involved.
''I was surprised as anyone when I opened the Gold Coast Bulletin this morning and I nearly choked on my Weetbix to see Gary Ablett in Gold Coast gear,'' he said.
''I am sure that would have excited a lot of Gold Coasters to see that."
And see it they did.
On September 29, 2010, the Brownlow medallist ended months of speculation by confirming he would leave the Cats and join the Gold Coast Suns on a five-year deal worth $9 million.
In his debut press conference, Ablett confirmed he wanted the captain's gig.
"It would be definitely (something I'm interested in),'' he said.
''But at the same time I wouldn't want it to be something that is offered to me … I want to get up there and prove myself.
''If I am to be appointed captain, I want for everyone from the players to the coaches to want me to be captain.
''It is a good challenge for me to get up there and be a role model and if I am the right person for the job then I would love to take on that role.''
Ablett went on to be named captain and played strongly despite the Suns failing to feature in the finals.
He won a second Brownlow Medal in 2013, the club's first, and had a career-best season before being knocked out of the competition with a season-ending shoulder injury in Round 16.
Ablett's 2015 and 2016 seasons were also cut short by injury and he stepped down as captain at the end of that year.
He left the Suns at the end of 2017 to return to Geelong where he will play his final season this year.