Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett says some of the booing of Gary Ablett was coming from his own fan base.
A pantomime villain in one of the AFL’s enduring rivalries, Ablett was roundly booed by the Hawks-dominated MCG crowd from the moment he lined up in the forward line on Monday.
The 34-year-old Ablett had the last laugh, winding back the clock with a vintage three-goal performance – highlighted by a stunning mark on the back of David Mirra – in the Cats’ 23-point win.
However the booing stole some of the attention.
On Tuesday, Kennett said he was “disappointed” with the booing, but made the shock claim that some of it was coming from Geelong fans.
“I’ve been speaking to some Geelong people who were saying Geelong supporters were behind them were booing him,” Kennett told 3AW Radio.
“You can’t measure it, all you can know is that the volume was quite intense. I was absolutely surprised by it.”
Kennett also suggested the booing was somewhat a response to Ablett liking Israel Folau’s controversial social media post last week.
“I think you’ll find it it had more to do … with the Instagram comments, I don’t know what else it would be,” Kennett said.
However others believe the hostility towards Ablett appeared largely motivated by his status as a star of the game.
“Good players get booed,” Geelong coach Chris Scott said.
“It seems to be a trend.”
Scott said he had briefly spoken to Ablett after he “liked”, then unliked, Folau’s incendiary social media post suggesting hell awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters”.
The deeply-religious Ablett posted on Instagram on Easter Saturday that he loved all people “regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality”.
“I spoke to him about it for 30 seconds or so,” Scott said.
“I’m not a social media participant at all but his (Instagram) post was shown to me. If he said ‘I love all people’, I think that says it, doesn’t it?
“As a society we’ve got to stop hanging people who misspeak and then say ‘sorry, that’s not what I mean – this is what I mean’. You can keep trying to make a story of it if you like but I think you’re being disingenuous if you do that.”