Gabelich was a premiership player with Collingwood in 1958. He won the Copeland Trophy for being Collingwood's best and fairest in 1960 having finished third in the Brownlow the previous season. In 1961 he returned to Western Australia where spent a season with West Perth as well as representing his state at the Brisbane Carnival where he earned All-Australian selection and won the Simpson Medal awarded to WA's best player. He returned to Collingwood and captained the club for the entire 1964 season and part of 1965.
Gabelich is perhaps best known for his goal in the dying minutes of the 1964 Grand Final. He had gathered the ball from his forward 50 and run in to kick what looked like being the match winning goal. It was not to be, however, and Melbourne defender Neil Crompton replied with a goal to give his side victory by four points.