Ablett century sparks pitch invasion
From BERNIE SLATTERY in Melbourne
AUSTRALIAN Football League champion Gary Ablett took another powerful stride toward legendary status when he kicked his 100th goal of the season.
It was the third successive year in which Ablett has topped 100.
Just over a minute into the third quarter the Geelong captain booted his third major of a seven goal haul to be: the oldest player, at 33, to kick 100; first captain to register a 'ton'; take his career tally to 939 and sixth highest on the career total goals list; keep him on line to break Bob Pratt's total of 150 in a season; and be the only player to have an AFL crowd swarm on to the field twice to congratulate him on the 100-goal feat.
In a stop-start affair at home against Sydney that Geelong were always going to win, Ablett registered footy's equivalent of a false-start to notch his century.
After he took a strong leading mark at the 20-minute point of the second quarter thousands of spectators, mainly children, swarmed on to Geelong's defensive side of the oval. His 50-metre kick swerved across the behind line at the last minute but, encouraged by a mistaken ground announcer, the fans charged toward Ablett.
Security and ground staff took five minutes to clear the ground, leaving Ablett at half-time going to lunch at 99 not out.
However, 1.5 minutes into the third term he out-jostled close-checking Sydney full-back Andrew Dunkley to accept a pass from Shayne Breuer and split the main sticks from 40 metres out. Again the ground was deluged with excited young spectators.
Ablett was assisted by 11 other goal-scorers in the Cats' 23.13 (151) to 11.8 (74) demolition of Sydney, illustrating second-placed Geelong's awesome firepower.
Already peeved at his side's dismal capitulation to Geelong, the Swans' coach Ron Barassi took a swipe at parents, children and poor security over the crowd's ground invasion.
Barassi said the invasion was stupid. 'It's a real worry the stupidity of people and I do not care if people go off crook at me for saying that kids are stupid. That's just stupid.' He also coach lashed out at parents of the young fans who sprinted across the oval.
'It comes from the bloody parents,' he said.