GEELONG’s acquisition of Gary Ablett was a two-part process that had been more than 12 months in the making.
The 33-year-old first raised the idea of his desire to move home for family reasons last year and he went public with that wish again in April.
But between his request for a trade at the end of 2016 and the official completion of the deal on Thursday, Ablett and the Cats had minimal contact.
While aware that another request would be made at the end of the 2017 season, both Gold Coast and Geelong were keen to let Ablett focus on his football.
It was left to Ablett’s manager Liam Pickering to broker the deal that released the champion midfielder from his contract and sent him to the Cats.
But that was only one part of the equation and in the end it was Gold Coast’s willingness to relent on its demand for a player that secured Geelong its number one target of the trade period.
The Suns had been adamant that they would hold out for one of the Cats’ array of talented stars before releasing the two-time Brownlow medallist from his contract, which tied him to the club until the end of 2018. They had identified Mitch Duncan, Nakia Cockatoo and Jake Kolodjashnij as players of interest.
But Gold Coast’s request was knocked on the head quickly and none of the Geelong players who had said they were willing to move to the Suns appealed to them.
Both clubs went back to the drawing board as they looked at how a deal could be done.
Out-of-contract small forward Darcy Lang seemed the most likely option but Lang’s decision to seek a move to the Blues meant something — someone — had to give.
Ultimately, Gold Coast did the right thing by the man who had given them seven years’ service and freed him — for an exchange of draft picks — to go him to be closer to his family.
It took until 1.30pm on Thursday for it to become official, but the move that had been planned since last year, was done.
The Cats had landed their man.