Boxing Blogs


Remembering Cam

Hey Team,

Hope everyone is well.  As this week ticks by I have been doing a lot of reflection on life, the universe and everything.  Last week one of the young men I coached once upon a time passed away at age 29…I have to say it’s been really hard to accept and understand.

The feelings of both guilt and loss are pretty real right now.  I mean – I know what has happened is not my fault – how could it be?? – but at the same time we’re talking about a person who up until about 18-months or so ago I had semi-regular contact with…more a message here and there with an occasional call for a chat than anything ‘formal’ – but somehow between the two of us we have let even THAT ‘low effort’ relationship slip away.  Now as it turns out I will never get the chance to share a joke or story with him again.

I first met Cameron during the early rounds of the 2013 WAFL season…a little over a decade ago.  I was coaching the WA State U18’s and he was playing in the forward line for the South Fremantle colts.  Going into the season myself and the other selectors had been quietly optimistic about our chances of winning the championship that year…but then under the unique draft rules of that season, our 2x ‘BEST’ players – Jaeger O’Meara and Jesse Hogan – became the two x 17-year olds taken in the pre-draft dealings of the GWS Giants as part of their assistance package from the AFL.  Talking footy ‘stuff’, losing Jaeger was bad.  Losing Jesse was a disaster – WA is a small state (numbers) and there were really no other key forwards available.  We were really in a bit of a bind as even with Jesse in the side external predictions were that 2013 would be a ‘DOWN’ year for WA.

As the WAFL season started, Cameron was taking a couple of marks and kicking a couple of goals for what was an EXCELLENT South Fremantle colts side.  When I say a ‘couple’ I mean a ‘couple’.  In his first game he had just 4-kicks…but kicked 2x goals.  In his next, 6-kicks…but 3x goals.  Talking to the guys at South Freo (shout out to the legend Arthur Maskos who was coaching them at the time) it turns out that Cameron had so little confidence in his football ability that he initially had not shown up for training at South Fremantle that summer…he figured that his best chance of getting a game would be in the amateurs and had instead heading down to North Fremantle with some mates.  Luckily for everyone who loves footy, Arthur had seen Cameron play a bit of junior footy, reached out to him and got him down to the club.

Cameron made his name in the AFL as a forward – amazing overhead mark and a beautiful kick for goal.  It might be surprising for everyone to know that as a junior he was a GOOD player but certainly not one of the stars of his side.  His junior team – South Coogee – which featured a couple of other members of the WA u18 side that year in Dylan Main (later drafted by West Coast and then going on to captain South Fremantle) and Ben Sokol (winner of a couple of Bernie Naylor medals with Subiaco) – had won (I think!) 5 or 6 junior premierships in a row…Cameron was the player who was part of it but not in the ‘middle’ of it…I guess there is a message here somewhere about players developing at different rates and everyone being on their own journey but I’ll leave you guys to work that out for yourself.

Anyway, Cameron continued to deliver some consistent if not overwhelming performances in the colts whilst myself and the u18 selectors tried to finalise our squad.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that Cam would have been the LAST played added and the conversation was something along the lines of, “well, there’s really no-one else”…So he came up and joined us at the WACA (where we trained) and despite his somewhat shy nature AND lack of outward confidence in his ability – as you can imagine, the best 18 year olds in the state are usually VERY CONFIDENT in what they can do!!! – quickly made friends and settled into the group.  The presence of his mates from South Coogee and a large contingent from South Fremantle (who I think had won the colts grand final in 2012) no doubt made it easier.

Cam continued to get better week by week and by the time the ‘real’ games started had cemented himself in the side.  Coaching the 18’s means quite a lot of travel – that year, we headed to Tasmania for a game in Launceston as well as to Melbourne for the carnival – and the way the seating allocations work is ‘alphabetical’…as it turns out, “Mc” and “Pr” are pretty close in the alphabet and I flew back and forth to Tassie seated alongside Cam.  How and why I can still remember this and chatting with him about life, the universe and everything – especially music – I have no idea.  Cam had been working as an apprentice – sparky or plumber, I can’t remember – and had a few ‘apprenticeship’ stories as well…Needless to say, I have been thinking a lot about these conversations in the past few days.

Back to the ‘fun’ part – by the time we arrived in Melbourne for the final two games against Vic Country and SA, Cameron was more than a selection afterthought – he had become a key player in a side that was doing a LOT better than expected.  There were a couple of guys in that team who have shown themselves to be unbelievable leaders (Patrick Cripps, Tom Barrass, Dom Sheed and Charlie Cameron in particular) and had really instilled a belief in their team-mates…and with Cameron kicking goals, despite a terrible start we had ‘nearly’ run down Vic Metro at Subiaco oval and were really defying all of the pre-carnival predictions.

We arrived in Geelong to play Vic Country.  It was an incredible game of u18 footy – eventually won by us when Cameron kicked a goal after the siren to put us ahead by 3-points.  You can read the match report here if you care:

From there it was on to play SA at what is now called Marvel for the championship.  Sadly, we went down by 10-points – the absence of Sheed (broken collarbone vs Vic Country) and injury to Cameron just after half time (broken leg – he had already kicked two goals) certainly didn’t help.  I still remember Cameron sitting in a wheelchair waiting for the ambulance to arrive and explaining that his leg “wasn’t that bad” and that he felt OK…anyway, x-rays confirmed what the physio and Dr (cheers to Nick Caputi and Lionel Lim – legends both) had already suspect – the leg was broken.  Cameron was a tough bugger.  I remember Cameron’s dad was down in the rooms when all of this was going on and he said something along the lines of “He’ll be fine – it’s only his leg”…a tough family I reckon.  You can read about the SA game here if you’re interested: (I know it says Cameron was injured in the last quarter…maybe I got it wrong??  No idea!).

If you want to see more of Cameron in action at that u18 carnival – he was pretty bloody good – check out this video on

There’s one more part to his u18 story that I will never forget.  The draft was being held in the Gold Coast and I was lucky enough to get to attend with Dom Sheed, Cameron and a couple other of the WA Talent staff.  Sitting next to Cam when his name was called – about 13 or 14 I think – by the Giants he said to me:  “What do I do now?  I haven’t even spoken to them yet!”.  I have no recollection of what I actually said – hopefully it was helpful – but I guess I tell this story to illustrate that whilst being selected to play professional sport is a great opportunity, not everyone dreams of being ripped away from their family and friends aged just 17 and I hope everyone remembers that just because you dream of one thing doesn’t mean you can’t fear it at the same time.

The rest of Cam’s journey – footy and otherwise – has been documented all over the media in the last few days.  I’m not sure about any of that stuff.  What I am sure is that the Cam I knew was a quiet guy, friendly and liked by everyone.  And I 100% wish I’d made more of an effort to keep our relationship – such as it was – going over the past couple of years.

This is just a sad, sad situation.  I’ve really no idea what to do – or what I should have done…all I can say right now is if there are people in your life who you have let ‘slip away’, well…reach out.  It isn’t about doing any more than showing that you care about them and making sure they understand there are people around them who are there to help.

See you in the gym,


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