Footy fans have erupted after AFL great Gary Ablett Jr announced he would make a comeback to the sport in the Northern Territory Football League later this year.
Ablett, who retired following the 2020 season after 357 matches for Geelong and the Gold Coast Suns, is set to make a one-off appearance for Palmerston in November when they face reigning premiers St Marys.
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Palmerston has been a popular club for ex-AFL stars to make an appearance, with former Carlton and Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts also making a guest appearance earlier this year.
Ablett's visit has been organised through former Geelong teammate Matthew Stokes, whose father John Stokes won a premiership for Palmerston in the early 1980s, when the club was known as North Darwin.
“To have Gary and family here as part of the football community is a massive coup for the club, and so exciting for our NTFL competition,” the club declared in a statement in their Facebook page.
Ablett will line up alongside his new teammates at Cazalys Stadium on November 18, with the match part of an official function celebrating his visit.
The son of fellow AFL and Geelong legend Gary Ablett Sr., the junior Ablett booted 445 goals, winning two premierships with the Cats as well as Brownlow Medals in 2009 and 2013.
He also captained the Suns from their first season in the AFL in 2011 through to 2017, before he made a move back to his beloved Cats.
My mate who is one of the coaches at the Palmerston Magpies now has Gary Ablett Jnr and Matt Stokes coming to play a match or two this season!
Now that’s a get!! pic.twitter.com/S3YY2jNlHf
— purple_cath (@cath_purple) August 30, 2022
Gary Ablett Jr and wife Jordan will head to Darwin this summer. Ablett will play a game for Eddie Betts’ club Palmerston Magpies. Here’s an explanation from the club for his visit: pic.twitter.com/3Zy8AtDDq4
— Jack Snape (@jacksongs) August 30, 2022
GARY ABLETT CONFIRMED TO PLAY FOR PALMERSTON:
One of the game’s greatest ever players – Gary Ablett Jnr – will play a one-off game for Palmerston this upcoming NTFL season. The Magpies confirmed the signing on Facebook this evening.
📷 – Quinn Rooney (Getty Images via AFL) pic.twitter.com/DK5il3zBG7
— Jackson Clark (@jclarkmedia) August 30, 2022
Hospital scare for Gary Ablett's son Levi after holiday
Jordan Ablett, Gary's wife, revealed earlier this month that three-year-old son Levi is recovering well after being rushed to hospital shortly after a family holiday.
Ablett and Jordan revealed in 2020 that Levi had been diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease, with the pair facing an anxious wait after returning home from the Gold Coast earlier this month.
Levi's heartbreaking condition means he will likely never speak and has a short life expectancy.
Since making that heartbreaking revelation public, Jordan has frequently provided updates on Levi's around-the-clock medical care and frequent hospital visits.
In a worrying new revelation on social media, she said Levi had to be rushed to hospital shortly after their return from holidays.
“Not the return we anticipated," she wrote on Instagram.
“Little man was taken to hospital yesterday morning after almost 3 weeks of struggling to fight something.
"Turns out his little body has been hit with TWO respiratory illnesses at the one time. He’s been resting up and is being cared for by amazing doctors.
"He had a great night sleep (not poor dad though) and is doing better. Our little champ!”
Jordan has previously spoken about how tough 2020 was after Levi's diagnosis and the death of her mother Trudy from lung cancer.
The Abletts have spoken openly about the family's many challenges, with Jordan often providing touching updates about Levi's experiences in hospital, since his diagnosis.
Jordan revealed how she and Gary were reluctant at first to share photos of Levi on social media but the couple have been overwhelmed by the number of inspirational messages of support.
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