AFL players can usually live with a fair dose on anonymity in Sydney, but diners at Ramsgate Avenue’s North Bondi Fish would have been hard pressed not to notice a 196cm key forward anxiously pacing the iconic eatery during Thursday night’s service.
Even as the 7:30pm trade deadline loomed, the Cats and the Giants were apparently still at an impasse on a deal for the restricted free agent, and Jeremy Cameron couldn’t sit still.
Just over a month ago, the 27-year-old had decided that his nine year career at the Giants would come to an end, and had nominated Geelong as his preferred destination.
It wasn’t a decision that came easy, as he tells it there were many, many sleepless nights. It was a period he described as ‘intense’, and you could see the emotion on his face during Friday’s media call when he discussed telling his teammates of his plans, and especially his long time mentor, Giants coach Leon Cameron.
But it was a night spent under the stars talking it through with partner Indiana that sealed the deal. Cameron wanted to be a Cat.
“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.”
In the end, it came down to a combination of family and lifestyle for the couple.
“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 around 7:30 on Thursday night, the news finally filtered through that Cameron was a Cat; Geelong parting with picks 13, 15, 20 and a future fourth round selection in exchange for Cameron and two second round picks in the 2021 national draft.
Cameron said he thinks he can bring a lot to the 2021 Geelong outfit, but equally, he said there’s a lot he can learn from his new teammates as well.
“Clearly they’re a really good team and there’s a lot of experience that will definitely help me and I’m looking to learn off a lot of these guys and really develop my game as well.”
But there’s one player in particular he is keen to run out alongside; Cats colossus and reigning Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins.
“As a key forward, I still see myself as a really young player. I didn’t play any juniors, [and] I always found I’ve relied on the coaches I’ve had, who have all been fantastic, but I’ve never had a guy [like] Hawk to play with and to just learn things off,” he said.
“He can push me around on the footy field, I’ll listen to him, don’t worry about that.”
Five days after he’d made his decision to request a move to Geelong, he found himself ‘deep, deep’ in Arnhem Land on a pre-planned fishing trip, that just happened to fall at the time of the grand final.
A two and a half hour drive from Darwin was followed by a “12 hour steam on a big mothership towing a couple of little boats behind that we fished from.”
It was little wonder even the satellite phone was dropping out. As his soon to be new teammates were squaring up to the Tigers at the Gabba, his target was the elusive metre long Barramundi, of which he said he fell just seven centimetres short.
“It was a great getaway for me. It’s a very stressful period, I went through all the highs and the lows and the emotions of telling my mates that we’d played out last game together.
“It was just to spend seven days doing something that I love. It come at a good time, that’s for sure.”
Three weeks later, as Cameron fidgeted his way through his final meal as a Giant, Stephen Wells and the Geelong Football Club reeled in the biggest catch of the AFL offseason.