James Jordon in action during Sydney's clash against Collingwood in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

JAMES Jordon knew he needed to find a new home by the end of last winter. After famously being the sub in Melbourne's 2021 premiership, the Victorian was subbed in or out of eight games last year. He was playing, but just not enough. 

Sensing an opportunity to prise the midfielder out of the Demons, clubs started picking up the phone midway through the year. Part of the appeal was his free agency status at just 22. Jordon was delisted before playing a game at the end of 2020, creating an easy route to the club of his choosing, if that's what he chose to do. 

The Western Bulldogs, Essendon, St Kilda and Carlton all expressed varying degrees of interest. But despite growing up on the Victorian side of the Murray River in Yarrawonga, before boarding at Caulfield Grammar, Jordon chose the option furthest away

For the first time since they landed Lance Franklin at the end of 2013, Sydney had the capacity to be active. It secured Brodie Grundy and Taylor Adams via trades. And it signed Joel Hamling and Jordon as unrestricted free agents. 

The 23-year-old was one of the standouts on the track over the pre-season, cementing a spot in John Longmire's midfield for the Opening Round clash against his old side. While it has been all about Isaac Heeney, Chad Warner and Errol Gulden early, Jordon has been rewarded for making a tough decision at the end of last season. 

"It was all under wraps at the end of the season. I sat down with Horse (Longmire), Charlie Gardiner and my manager (Mark Kleiman from Kapital Sports) and just had an honest chat. There was an opportunity there. I had a really good conversation with them," Jordon told AFL.com.au after collecting 19 disposals and five marks against Collingwood in round one

James Jordon handballs during Sydney's clash against Melbourne in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"That move was really appealing to come up to Sydney. It has been a great four months, all the boys have been unreal making that transition so easy, to win the first two games and keep that momentum going. 

"It was probably a bit frustrating at times last year. That fresh start has really given me a lot of confidence. Having a really good pre-season has set me up really well. The backing of the coaches has been massive for me. I've been able to play some really good footy over the pre-season and coming into the first couple of rounds."

Jordon was pigeonholed as an outside player at Melbourne, with opportunities presenting on a wing or half-forward. But after demonstrating over the summer that he can play inside, Sydney has discovered a more versatile player than it thought it bought. 

"That was part of the reason coming up here. I can play a variety of roles, whether that be inside, or on a wing or at half-forward," Jordon said. 

James Jordon in action during the R4 match between Melbourne and West Coast at Optus Stadium on April 9, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

"I had five years at Melbourne and learned from some of the best onballers there. I love playing inside, love playing wing. I'm happy playing my role for the team. If we keep winning, that is great."

Jordon has settled into life in the Harbour City. Life now involves living near the beach in the eastern suburbs, existing in a part of the country not obsessed by the minutiae of football. But he isn't getting too comfortable in his new surroundings. 

Sydney captain Callum Mills is sidelined for another couple of months following shoulder surgery, but veteran midfielder Luke Parker and recruit Adams will be available early next month. Jordon has a spot right now, but knows he needs to keep performing to keep it.

Callum Mills leads his side out for the First Elimination Final between Carlton and Sydney at the MCG, on September 8, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

"The pressure for spots is real," he said. "Every good football team has pressure for selection. It forces boys to go to another level and play your role. It is really healthy. It keeps boys going and wanting to perform really well."

Jordon has made a living by living on the fringe. Now he is determined to become a permanent fixture in one of the most exciting midfields in the AFL.