The AFL world has erupted over beautiful scenes after the AFL grand final, as both teams stopped to honour Geelong champion Gary Ablett after his final game.
Richmond could have been forgiven for wanting to get their celebrations underway after beating the Cats by 31 points in Saturday night’s decider.
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However they stopped to pay tribute to their fallen opponent, with both teams forming a guard of honour to salute Ablett as he made his way off the field.
“Great act of sportsmanship by @Richmond_FC,” Sports broadcaster Shane McInnes tweeted.
“Have every right to celebrate the flag, yet paused to acknowledge one of the greats of the game in Gary Ablett.”
Channel 7’s Nick McCallum wrote: “Showing true class by honouring true class. Wonderful gesture by @Richmond_FC to delay lap of honour to line up to farewell Geelong’s ‘Little Master’ Gary Ablett.
“A wonderful sign of respect which will last in the memory forever.”
Ablett could be seen in tears at the full-time siren, and he shared some beautiful moments with wife Jordan and son Levi - who is battling a rare degenerative disease - on the field after the match.
The 36-year-old also showed his class when he stopped to congratulate Richmond captain Trent Cotchin during a post-match interview.
Gary Ablett’s courageous display in grand final
Unfortunately for Ablett his courage wasn’t enough to inspire a fairytale finish to his storied AFL career.
The retiring champion’s 357th and final match looked over inside five minutes of the historic clash at the Gabba.
Ablett hurt his left shoulder in a tackle from Cotchin and had to be assisted from the field in obvious pain.
While most feared the dual Brownlow Medallist was done for the night, he reappeared on the bench on the 19-minute mark with his shoulder heavily strapped.
Despite clearly being affected by the injury, Ablett played on, ending with 12 disposals, two clearances and three score involvements.
As inspirational as the 36-year-old’s efforts were, it couldn't deny the Tigers a third premiership in four years as Richmond ran over the Cats in the second half to claim a 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) victory.
Teammate Patrick Dangerfield said he wasn't surprised at all by Ablett playing through the pain barrier for his team.
“He's incredibly strong-willed, mentally tough. Whatever adjectives you'd like to use to describe someone that's incredibly resilient, he's all that and above,” Dangerfield said.
“It's emotional for us all to see the back of his playing days.
“In my time in the game I haven't seen someone dominate for a genuine decade.
“He's a pleasure to play with, awful to play against and you know I count myself lucky as we all do we've been able to experience him.”
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