Gary Ablett vs Mick Martyn
When you think of all of the great battles between Geelong and North Melbourne players in the 90’s, how can you go past Gary Ablett Snr vs Mick Martyn.
Ablett Snr will go down in history as one of the greats of the game, from high-flying marks to breathtaking goals, many of Ablett’s feats have to been seen to be believed.
Martyn may not have had the same class as Ablett, but he made up for it with buckets of courage and determination. He epitomised the shinboner spirit during his 300-game career.
In fact, when Martyn made his AFL debut back in 1988 his very first opponent was the man they called ‘God’. Martyn may have only had one disposal that day, but he kept Ablett Snr to just two goals and from that moment onwards a great rivalry was born.
When you think of the big moments between these two great sides, there was none bigger than the 1994 Preliminary Final.
Carey and McGrath no doubt played their roles that day, but when it came to the defining moment in the final seconds of the game it was Ablett and Martyn that decided it, with Ablett out-marking Martyn at the top of the square to send Geelong into the Grand Final.
Ablett and Martyn played a total of 12 games against each other across nine seasons.
What made this matchup so great was the physicality of both players. They attacked the contest and although Ablett kicked 49 goals, he also gave away more free kicks to Martyn than any other opponent, a testament to Martyn’s prowess and dogged approach.
Wayne Carey vs Tim McGrath
Whilst Gaz Snr might be the most exciting player to have ever played the game, the most exciting match-up between the Cats and Roos in the 90s was by far Wayne Carey vs Tim McGrath.
Carey and McGrath actually started out as teammates for North Melbourne’s U19 side in 1988. McGrath would win the Morrish Medal that year and he and Carey would be premiership teammates by the end of the season.
McGrath and Carey were both listed by the Kangaroos VFL side in 1989 but McGrath would depart North Melbourne at the end of 1991 when he was traded to the Cats.
The first match up between Carey and McGrath wouldn’t be until 1993 and then over the next nine seasons they would go on to play a total of 15 matches against each other.
The beauty of this match up isn’t that one player continued to dominate the other but that they each took turns in having great games against the other. Whilst Carey was able to kick bags of nine and six against McGrath, conversely McGrath was able to hold him goalless or to one goal on occasions as well.
Speaking to Open Mike, McGrath said that the match-up with Carey was won he loved.
“There were some square, some I got flogged, and some I probably won,” he said.
When asked to describe a game against Carey in 1993, McGrath said.
“He must’ve had four best-on-grounds already, so I figured it was probably a good time — he’s either gonna have five BOGs or he might have an ordinary one.
“And luckily enough he didn’t have a great game.”