This week’s Club Connector is the late Gary Ablett who represented both Everton and Hull City during his distinguished playing career.
January 1992 to January 1996
September 1986 to October 1986
DAYS AT GOODISON
Ablett offered four years’ worth of service to Everton, making 156 appearances in the royal blue shirt after arriving directly from Liverpool for a fee of £750,000 in 1992. The defender had started out at Liverpool as a teenager and represented the Reds for 10 seasons prior to his switch across Stanley Park.
At Goodison Park he became a mainstay in defence where he played alongside esteemed captain Dave Watson for several seasons before moving to Birmingham in January 1996.
Ablett later ended his career with stints at Wycombe, Blackpool and New York outfit the Long Island Rough Riders.
GREATEST BLUES MOMENT
Ablett became the only player to win the FA Cup with both Liverpool and Everton when he followed up his 1989 success at Wembley with another Twin Towers victory in 1995.
Ablett, Watson, Matt Jackson and David Unsworth were rock solid in the final against Manchester United, as Paul Rideout’s first-half header was enough to secure the Blues’ first piece of silverware for eight seasons and the fourth major honour of Ablett’s career.
FOR THE OTHER SIDE
Ablett was at the start of his career when he joined Hull City on loan from Liverpool at the start of the 1986/87 campaign. He made his debut in a 3-0 FA Cup defeat at Wigan Athletic and went on to play a further five league fixtures for the Tigers before returning to Merseyside midway through October of that campaign.
His short spell with Hull served notice of his potential and he made his first senior appearance for Liverpool two months after his recall.
After retiring, Ablett returned to Everton in the summer of 2002 as coach of the Under-15s side and later took control of the Under-17s after Colin Harvey's retirement.
After four years coaching Everton's youngsters Ablett moved back across Stanley Park to become Liverpool's reserve team boss. In his second season the Reds won the north section of the Barclays Premier Reserve League.
In May 2009 Ablett was handed his first senior management job, taking the reins at Stockport. The Hatters were in administration all season and were relegated from League One. Ablett left at the end of the season and took up a coaching role with Roy Keane at Ipswich Town.
A LASTING LEGACY
Ablett sadly passed away on New Year’s Day in 2012, 16 months after he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was aged 46.
News of Ablett’s passing united Merseyside and Everton as a football club paid their tributes ahead of their FA Cup third round home tie against Tamworth six days later. The defender’s family and a packed Goodison Park joined in a minute’s applause prior to kick off. Also paying their respects were several of Ablett’s former Everton teammates including Duncan Ferguson, Graham Stuart and Joe Parkinson who joined the players on the pitch.
Over 1,000 mourners attended Ablett’s funeral at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral including David Moyes and his full Everton squad. Former Blues managers Howard Kendall and Joe Royle were also in attendance.
THOSE WHO KNEW HIM BEST
Former Everton teammate Pat Nevin said: “Gary was a classy defender and had decent quality going forward as well and he was not dirty in any way. But because of his understated way he was maybe under-rated by many people. Gary was a lovely, lovely guy who was liked by everyone.”
Former Liverpool striker Ian Rush said: “Gary was a very knowledgeable football man too. He was not a shouter and a raver, he was more of a coach. He knew a lot about the game and he could see potential in young players – a skill in itself.”
Former Everton manager Howard Kendall said: “He was a tremendous worker and a good defender. I took him to Sheffield United as well. He was a consistent player. He had a great career in football and made a big contribution to the game.”