Charlie Cameron was content to go back to Adelaide and play out the last year of his contract if that’s what he had to do.
But the preference was to play football where he felt most comfortable — in front of his close friends and family.
As the nine-day trade period dragged on, and a mere two-and-a half weeks after notifying the Crows of his intent to leave the club, he became a little nervous, and perhaps agitated.
“I didn’t realise how long it was going to take,” Cameron said, just 30 minutes after joining the Lions for pick 12 in this year’s draft.
“I was a bit worried.”
Worry turned into both elation and surprise when his manager, Andrew McDougall, of Corporate Sports sent him a text at 1:42pm on deadline day.
While he was delighted at the move, he was surprised at the price.
“I didn’t think I’d be traded for that high of a pick,” Cameron joked. “I thought 18 was the right pick.”
There had been speculation surrounding his future for most of the year, but the 23-year-old admits that he made the decision just days after the grand final.
“I had plenty of emotions in the few days after the grand final when I made the decision. I can’t thank the Adelaide Football Club enough for the relationships I’ve built there and for them taking me from a rookie to 73 games now.”
The former rookie selection’s roots are entrenched in both Queensland and Western Australia, and specifically in Mornington Island, which is located more than 2,000 kilometres from Adelaide.
Cameron spent a lot of his younger years at the island, before moving to Western Australia for a brief period as a teenager.
“My mum and dad are in WA, but most of the rest of my family lives in Queensland. I’m excited to go back up there and see them,” he added. “I had family come down when I have played up in Brisbane and when I played in the grand final and seeing them smiling and enjoying the moment made me realise that I wanted to go home and play in front of them and seeing how proud they are of me.”
And while the speedster is delighted to start his new chapter in front of family and friends, he leaves behind close friends who became family in Adelaide.
“The relationships that I’ve built over the last four years have been awesome for me to help me to feel at home. I was close mates with Mitch McGovern, Jake Lever, Riley Knight and Brodie Smith. It was tough to tell them I was leaving.”
But perhaps the person he is upset to leave the most is his partner in crime in the Crows’ forward line.
“I spoke to Eddie [Betts] yesterday and he said he’s excited for me whatever happens. He said he would always be there for me. I haven’t called him yet, but I sent him a text. He’s driving to Alice Springs and once he gets there I’ll give him a call.”
Despite the saga being played out in the media, and potentially looking like a tedious, drawn-out process, Cameron’s manager couldn’t be happier with how the deal panned out with the Crows.
“It was pretty nerve-racking because it wasn’t moving until the last 45 minutes,” McDougall said. “You never know with trade week when the player is in contract, but the Crows did a great job to get the trade done, to look after Charlie’s wishes and to get pick 12 themselves.
“Charlie and the family are really excited that the deal got done. We want to thank the Adelaide Crows and Justin Reid.”
Like with most of these chases, the process began long ago.
Brisbane first made enquiries about Cameron’s services two years ago, and weren’t going to let the opportunity slide in 2017.
And with 18 minutes to go, the deal was made official and the Lions had their man.