Gary Ian Ablett 1965-2012
Gary was a Liverpool-born (19 November 1965) defender who was signed by Blackpool on 10th January 2000 on a free transfer having been released a week earlier by Birmingham City, where injuries had begun to interrupt his appearances. His contract with Birmingham was to run until the end of the season and he was reputedly on a weekly wage of £2,500 providing that he played in the first team.
On signing for Blackpool he had a clause in his contract that stated he would be offered an additional year’s contract should Blackpool stay in the Second Division. He had signed for Birmingham City in June 1996 for a fee of £390,000 and he had played 116 League and Cup games, made eight substitute appearances and scored two goals for the club. He spent some time on loan at Wycombe Wanderers from December 1999 and played against Blackpool in his side’s 2-1 defeat on 23 October 1999 and before joining Blackpool he had an unsuccessful trial with Scunthorpe United.
Apparently he had played a game on trial at Walsall for the reserve side before signing for Blackpool and he was in serious dispute with Birmingham as the club had verbally offered him a new contract just before he suffered an injury in a reserve game and then they withdrew it once he was injured. He had taken his case up with the Professional Footballers’ Association.
He had started his career at Liverpool as an apprentice in 1981 before signing as a professional for the club in November 1983. He went on to play 103 League games, make six substitute appearances and score one goal for Liverpool where he won a First Division championship in 1988 and 1990, an FA Cup winners medal in 1989 and an FA Charity Shield winners medal in 1988. While at Anfield he went on loan to Derby County in January 1985 and he played three League games and made three substitute appearances for the club and in September 1986 he went on loan to Hull City where he made five League appearances.
He was transferred to Everton for a fee of £750,000 in January 1992. At Everton he played 128 League games and scored five goals and won the FA Cup and Charity Shield with the club, both in 1995. While at Everton he went on loan to Sheffield United in March 1996 and he played 12 League games for the club. He was an England Under-21 and England ‘B’ international, winning one cap at each level
He made his Blackpool debut in the Autowindscreens Shield 1-0 win at Mansfield Town on 11 January 2000 when he “looked composed going forward from his left wing back position”. However, “his lack of match fitness showed in the second half when he ended up struggling to contain Mansfield’s forward runs”. Manager Steve McMahon commented, “Gary Ablett looked very comfortable in the first half. But in the second he looked very tired late on. You could see his lack of match fitness.”
On his home League debut he opened the scoring in a 3-3 draw with Luton Town on 15 January 2000. It was his first goal for three years and goalkeeper Tony Caig commented after the game “Gary Ablett and Kevin Richardson have come in and given us that bit extra experience and that’s what we are going to need in the last 20 games.”
Due to a rib injury he missed his first game since joining Blackpool when he was out of the side for the visit to Oxford United on 5 February 2000 Blackpool won 1-0. Blackpool released him after the 1999/2000 season and he retired from the game in May 2001.
Ablett was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in July 2010 while he was coaching at Ipswich.
Our sincerest sympathies to his family and friends from everyone on the INOIT website.