Grand Final day 2020.

As the Cats stood across from the Tigers, national anthem poised to play, and the weight of history on both teams’ shoulders, the tension was thick as the eyes of the entire footy world were glued on the  Gabba in Brisbane. All except for those of Jeremy Cameron.

He was on a 12 hour boat ride, towing two much smaller fishing boats, heading for the depths of Arnhem Land on the hunt for the elusive metre long Barramundi.

Just five days earlier Cameron had officially requested a move to Geelong before he setting off for the vast wilderness of the north-eastern Northern Territory via Darwin. It was a much-needed recharge as he prepared to embark on a new adventure at Kardinia Park.

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Cameron & Scott Press Conference | Round 15

Jeremy Cameron joined Chris Scott in this weeks press conference. Presented by Morris.

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The common thread when listening to current and former teammates talk about him is not only how relaxed he is, but the impact his laid-back nature has had on others. He plays with an almost detached joy, not dissimilar to current teammate Isaac Smith. It’s almost as if he still can’t believe he gets to run around with his mates and play football for a living.

No one celebrates like ‘Darty’ when he kicks a goal, because no one is having as much fun out there as Cameron does.

Geelong teammate Zach Tuohy said of Cameron ahead of his 200th game this weekend:

“He's just somebody you can tell who just loves playing footy,” he said.

“He probably doesn't think as much about the week to week as a lot of players would, he's quite happy to turn up, train, and go and set fires on his farm and drink his coffee.  

“It's refreshing to be around him. He is a stress free sort of guy but he takes a lot of the stress and anxiety from the people he's around because it's very hard to stay mega serious around Jezza.” 

The road to his 200th game started in Dartmoor, a tiny town on the Princes Highway and the Glenelg River between Heywood and the South Australian border. The last census had the population at 263.

Incredibly, Cameron didn’t play football until he was 15, which when you consider that he was an All-Australian in his second season at the Giants five years later, is an extraordinary feat but the accolades would keep coming.

By his final season in Sydney, he was a dual All-Australian, a Coleman Medallist, a best and fairest winner, and he would top the goal kicking at the Giants nine times between 2012-2020.

And then the Cats came calling. It was clear that hub life throughout the 2020 season impacted the freedom loving forward more than most, and the appeal of a regional lifestyle down in Geelong had a strong pull.

As Cameron himself tells it, a night under the stars with long time partner Indiana, sealed the deal.

“I ended up saying to Indi, let’s go away for the weekend, I think that was the day before I’d told the club, and on that drive back I knew we were going to make the move,” he said.

“We literally slept in a swag and spoke about it all night. The next morning driving back to Sydney I knew.” 

It was clearly a difficult decision for the loyal and popular Cameron to leave GWS. The bonds built over the years had forged strong ties, but in the end, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the final call came down to a combination of family and lifestyle.

“It was having a lifestyle that I really want to live with my partner and having family really close, for both of us,” Cameron said.

“I was really excited by what Geelong would offer me. The water is right there, I just love the ocean, and you’ve got the bush and the country as well and the space.”

“In the end that was the deciding factor and Indi really loves that as well.”

At 29 and in his 11th season of football, Cameron only seems to be getting better.

This year, he’s back in the All-Australian conversation, he’s in the hunt for the Coleman Medal and two weeks ago became just the second player in V/AFL history to kick 500 goals in under 200 games. Lance Franklin is the other. There have been games too, where he’s grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and powered the Cats home in a way that few can. 

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Cameron is Ready for Saturday Night

Jeremy Cameron is excited to play against an in form Richmond team this weekend to celebrate his 200th game milestone. Presented by Ford.

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Think Collingwood in Round 3, and his six goal haul against the Bulldogs in Round 12 was a masterclass. There’s more than a shade of his good mate Steve Johnson in how he can influence a game off of his own boot, and of course, the snaps. There might not be a surer thing in the game right now. 

But he’s become more than just a goal kicker as the year has progressed. His field kicking and athleticism have seen him run through the midfield at times, and in the last six weeks, he’s number one in the competition for score involvements, something that he says he has picked up playing alongside the ever selfless Tom Hawkins. 

“Back in my first few years if I didn't kick any goals, I probably didn't have much of an impact in the game,” he reflected on Wednesday. 

“So I feel like I’ve found that side of my game, especially watching Hawk. He's done it for a number of years and it (giving them off) feels better than kicking the goals, to be honest.”

Cameron and Indiana recently bought a farm outside of Geelong, and the regional lifestyle has indeed worked its magic. According to Indiana, Cameron is as happy and content off the field as he has ever been and the Cats are the big winners. 

“Jeremy is loving Geelong, he is so happy and in his element, which is reflected in his game,” she says. 

“It’s so nice to see him go out on the field with a clear mind and show everyone what he can do.”