Ablett should have stayed: Cats coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ablett should have stayed: Cats coach

By Greg Buckle 01/10/2010 06:26:26 AM Comments (0)

Geelong coach Mark Thompson says Gold Coast-bound superstar Gary Ablett has made the wrong move by leaving the Cats.

Thompson spoke on Thursday night at the AFL club's best and fairest dinner, where tough midfielder Joel Selwood claimed the "Carji" Greeves Medal for the first time.

The 22-year-old Selwood polled 667 votes to edge out 2009 Brownlow Medallist Ablett on 647 with James Kelly third on 589.

Thompson, who told the Cats on Tuesday he may not serve out the final year of his contract because of "acute burnout", urged the crowd of 1700 to keep the faith.

"There has been a lot said this year about him (Ablett) and I and all that sort of stuff," said Thompson, who has been critical of his champion rover at times during this year.

"It doesn't really matter. He's gone.

"It's sad. I would have loved him to have stayed.

"I actually think it would have been better for him if he stayed long-term.

"But again don't be all doomy and gloomy about this.

"Gary goes and we get two first-round (draft) picks.

"People will step up and this footy club will be fine for a very long time."

A nervous Ablett was cheered onto the stage.

"I'm going alright. I was a bit nervous coming tonight," said the 26-year-old, who announced his Gold Coast move on Wednesday.

"This club has meant a lot to me. I grew up supporting Geelong.

"I thank everybody at the club. I really appreciate everything and I'm never going to forget the success we've had and the friendships that I've made along the way."

Selwood said Ablett had "handled himself well".

"It was a very sad night where we see Gary for the last time in a Geelong atmosphere," Selwood said.

While some thought the mood of Thompson's speech suggested he wasn't staying on next year, Selwood said he couldn't comment because he was having a toilet break.

"If he comes to the club and says he's committed, we look forward to him coaching next year," Selwood said.

Thompson, 46, has coached the Cats for 11 years including the 2007 and 2009 premierships.

The former tough half-back was Essendon's premiership captain in 1993 and also played in premiership sides for the Bombers in 1984 and 1985.

Cats chief Brian Cook has this week played down speculation Thompson will join former team-mate James Hird on Essendon's coaching staff next year. Cook says he expects Thompson to either stay with the Cats next year or be involved in property development.

Selwood said Thompson's burnout issue had "come as a shock".

"You can see where he's coming from, 11 years in the caper and he's had his ups and downs during his trip," Selwood said.

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