It’s staggering to think a 20-year-old could be in the race to win a Coleman Medal in his second AFL season, but even more astounding when that player comes from a side that’s won just a single game for the year.
It’s hard to know exactly how Greater Western Sydney forward Jeremy Cameron has managed to hold his own against – and more often than not beat – the best footballers in the country on a weekly basis, but he says his experiences playing against men from a young age played a big part in his development.
Growing up in Dartmoor – a small country town in south-west Victoria – his junior football career was a baptism of fire.
“I basically walked over to football training one day and they were just a bit short (on players) so, them being short in the reserves, they followed me home and asked my parents if I could fill in for just one weekend,” Cameron says.
“It was pretty ruthless; they were pretty tough sort of farmers, and sorts of cowboys – you name it. But they were great people at the same time and Dartmoor Football Club definitely looked after me in my junior days.”
Cameron has since become a star of the AFL, but when he speaks it’s clear he’s still a country boy at heart.
“Fishing has always been a big part of me,” Cameron explains. He also loves hunting.
“I’ve always grown up around different sorts of guns and rifles and that sort of things.”
The 196cm Giant believes his country upbringing has influenced the way he approaches footy and the lifestyle that goes with it.
“I’m pretty relaxed and a lot of other county boys are as well. We all just chill out together and do our own thing.” – Jeremy Cameron.
“I’m pretty relaxed and a lot of other county boys are as well. We all just chill out together and do our own thing,” Cameron says.
“I think all the city boys love the shopping and that’s what they’ve grown up doing. They’re always in the shops and that sort of thing, but I think last week when my parents were up that’s the first time we’ve been shopping this year – apart from Coles.”
His relaxed approach to football has meant he’s been open to all of coach Kevin Sheedy’s suggestions, many of which have been unusual.
“He can say a few weird things,” Cameron admits.
“He was trying to convince me to kick a torpedo from the pocket – on my left side, when my left side’s to the boundary – so I thought that was a bit weird.”
“He knows so much, so you listen in and even if it’s not right you try (his suggestions) out a few times,” Cameron says, adding “Sheeds is obviously a really good coach.”
In 2014 Cameron will have a new coach, and with an extra pre-season under his belt it’s hard to know what he and his talented young teammates are capable of achieving. It’s easier to pick where Cameron will end up when his footy career finally finishes.
“I could really see myself back in a nice quiet town,” Cameron says.
“I’m still a country boy deep down.”
Words by Sam McInerney