aflplayers.com.au catches up with New Zealander Adam Campbell, the former Docker who played 13 games in purple between 2006 and 2009.
aflplayers.com.au: Your path to the AFL started in an interesting place. Tell us about that.
Adam Campbell: Yeah, it did, I was born in Christchurch in New Zealand. I lived there until I was 14. Rugby was my first sporting love, I played some cricket and soccer when I was younger, but all I ever wanted to do growing up was play for the All Blacks.
Us: So how does a Kiwi who wants to play for the All Blacks end up in Melbourne?
AC: My mum was an Essendon girl and I had an uncle (Ed Considine) who played for the Swans and Bombers. My parents were dairy farmers in New Zealand and wanted to purchase a bigger farm and land prices in Australia at the time were far cheaper. Mum had spent 18 years in New Zealand and wanted to come home so we ended up in Victoria.
“I probably needed to play back in the 1980s when it was long kicks to the forwards and I might have taken a few marks.” – Adam Campbell
Us: What was your understanding or exposure to AFL growing up?
AC: I had no idea about footy. I knew my uncle played and Mum used to watch the grand final every year but I didn’t know the sport or the players at all.
Us: So you were a very late starter. When did you first take an interest?
AC: The main thing was, I went down to the local footy club because I wanted to make friends in a new place. I realised I had a bit of a knack for it and the rest is history, I suppose.
Us: So from not playing footy to being drafted by Fremantle all the way over the other side of the country – how was that?
AC: I actually had my name in the draft in 2002 and my parents had meetings with North Melbourne and Brisbane and then pulled my name out of the draft. They wanted me to finish my schooling and I thought it was the end of the world. It ended up being not too bad because I was lucky enough to win a national championship with Victoria and at the end of 2003 I was off to Freo.
Us: How did you feel about moving across to Western Australia?
AC: Perth is a lovely place to live, I really liked it, it is just so far away from everyone and everywhere.
Us: Fremantle at the time had some superstars – Peter Bell, Matthew Pavlich just to name a couple – what are your memories of your time at the Dockers?
AC: It was amazing. I was a bit naive as a young bloke, I think. I knew AFL was big but I probably didn’t understand just how big it was. Another thing was I maybe didn’t understand what it took and how hard you have to work to play at that level. I just observed guys like Peter Bell, Matthew Carr, Des Headland was there, Jeff Farmer – you’re in awe when you’re mixing with guys like that.
Us: What sort of player were you – is there anyone you can compare yourself to in the game?
AC: I couldn’t play the game today, that’s for sure. The way they run and cover the ground, that wasn’t for me.
My biggest deficiency was my running ability. I probably needed to play back in the 1980s when it was long kicks to the forwards and I might have taken a few marks. I just loved watching Jonathan Brown. He was hard as nails, wouldn’t shirk an issue, and he was obviously a standout. That was my strength, I think, my aggressive attack on the footy and contested marking.
Us: Do you still have a soft spot for the Dockers?
AC: Yeah, I am still a Fremantle supporter. I always will be. I hope they can get the silverware soon because so many people at that club deserve it.
Us: What about when it comes to the Rugby World Cup – Wallabies or All Blacks?
AC: Definitely the All Blacks. I have to stay true. My family are very good friends with Richie McCaw’s family, so I’ve been lucky enough to meet him. That’s a pretty cool thing.
Us: What are you up to these days?
AC: I work for a company called Sinalli. It is an Australian owned sportswear manufacturer specialising in custom team wear for rugby league, soccer, cricket and many other sporting codes.
I have the rights to the brand here in Victoria and we also work with schools, small businesses as well as sporting clubs. I have been with the brand for four years and it’s great to be involved in sport still and a family-owned business.
Us: It’s a great story – from New Zealand to the AFL – and it sounds like you still love the game.
AC: I do, it’s a wonderful game and I have met a lot of great people. I have some fantastic mates from the Dockers and love catching up with them. I’m really proud of my footy life and look back on it really fondly.
To find out more about Sinalli Sportswear click here.
To get in touch with Adam, email him at email@example.com