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‘He deserves it.’ Top Cat on Ablett’s Legend limbo

“My personal view is that I absolutely hope he’s inducted as a legend at some stage,” Carter said. “I’m sure he deserves it. Some would argue he’s the greatest player ever.

“I trust the judgment of the [Hall of Fame] committee. But I’m sure he will be at some stage, and we’ll welcome it.”

Legend-hood is the game’s greatest post-playing honour, but the process that leads to it remains opaque. At least unofficially, clubs put their cases, but Cats chief executive Brian Cook said they had not made advances this year. “The AFL well knows our position,” he said.

Ablett’s singular football career stood in contrast with an erratic off-field life that included several brushes with the law. In 2000, he was convicted and fined for drug offences after teenager Alisha Horan was found dying in his hotel room.

Some maintain that this should preclude him permanently from receiving honours. But Carter, a former AFL commissioner, does not share those qualms, saying there has to be room for redemption. “At some point, you have to move on,” he said.

“There’s a process, and I’m sure they take it seriously, and I’m sure and I hope that Gary Ablett senior gets there at some stage.”

When the Hall of Fame was instituted in 2006, then AFL operations manager Ian Collins gave Carter a football signed by all the living legends to that point. Carter has collected more since, though regrets not tracking down St Kilda great Darrel Baldock before he died in 2011.

There is space still on the football for more. “I’m looking forward to getting Gary Ablett senior’s autograph on it at some stage,” he said. Doubtlessly, he will leave adjoining space for Gary Ablett junior, a likely future Legend.

Apart from Ablett and Carey, others sure to be in the Legend reckoning next week include Hawthorn’s Jason Dunstall and Michael Tuck, and Carlton pair Steve Silvagni and Greg Williams.

Dunstall’s 1254 goals is the third most in VFL/AFL history. Tuck played in seven premierships in his then record 426 games. Williams won Brownlow medals for Sydney and Carlton, and Silvagni was named the full-back of the 20th century.

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