Gary Ablett had 24 disposals and two goals in Geelong’s 67-point win over Richmond on Friday night, yet all the talk was about Richmond fans booing the two-time Brownlow Medalist.
Booing Ablett has been debated over the course of the season as opposition fans do their best to unsettle the Cats superstar.
The angst towards Ablett has seemed to help him recapture his best form, yet fans continue to target him with sledges and boos.
Superstars in any sport tend to be booed by opposition fans, however, the booing towards Ablett appears to be in regard to something other than his talents.
Ablett was rarely booed in his first stint at the Cats and in his seven seasons at Gold Coast.
The 35-year-old received taunts in his return season at the Cats last year, but nothing as vocal as he has experienced this campaign.
A theory to why fans are targeting Ablett could be because of the club he plays for as much as Ablett himself.
Geelong has been at the top of the league for 12 years and along with Hawthorn are one of the most successful teams in the past decade. The Cats are one of few teams that have been able to stay in premiership contention without rebuilding. They have been able to do this by bringing in players from other teams via the trade and free agency periods.
Patrick Dangerfield is the prime example of how the Cats have managed to attract the league’s best talent to the club and stay in the premiership hunt.
In regards to Ablett, fans perceive him bailing on the Suns to attain instant success at the Cats.
The Suns were struggling on-field and off-field in Ablett’s final season at the club, failing to win games and retain their best talents.
Ablett was lured to the Suns in 2010 on the promise they would be challenging for the finals after a few lean years developing their young list.
Seven years after signing his initial contract, the Suns remained at the bottom of the ladder and in need of another rebuild.
For Ablett, it was the perfect time for him to return to the Cats after years of wasting his prime at a mediocre club.
But for the wider football public, it appeared as though Ablett was bailing on a team that spent so much of their salary cap on him for the club that had little need for him as they already had a number of stars and were coming off a preliminary final appearance.
If you look on social media, the two teams that draw the most angst for their success are Geelong and Hawthorn because both have remained in the finals for 12 years without requiring a rebuild.
Dangerfield’s switch to the Cats coincided with a greater dislike towards him, while the Hawks receive negative feedback whenever they are linked to players in the off-season.
If Ablett had remained at the Suns or went to a club not in the finals hunt (i.e. St Kilda or Carlton) I doubt he would receive boos from opposition fans. But because he went to the team that has had constant success, he is a target of opposition fans.
The most similar player to Ablett is Lance Franklin, who is a much-loved figure and arguably one of the greatest players of all time.
Franklin is currently at a club that does not appear to be in the finals hunt and are a few years away from being premiership contenders.
However, if he decided to return to Hawthorn at the end of the season, would opposition fans boo him?
If we go by the Ablett saga then it appears likely.