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Cameron's history-making giant wait to reach first Grand Final

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LEON Cameron's persistence will be rewarded with two League records on Saturday when he leads Greater Western Sydney into the AFL Grand Final.

The Giants mentor will have accumulated the most games as a player and/or head coach before contesting his first Grand Final.

Cameron's tally of 398 games will dwarf the previous record of 314, which Fitzroy and Sydney great Paul Roos has held for the past 23 years.

Most games as player and/or coach before first Grand Final

Games

Name

Club

Season

Result

*398

Leon Cameron

GWS

2019

?

314

Paul Roos

Syd

1996

Loss

305

Shane Crawford

Haw

2008

Win

294

Paul Williams

Syd

2005

Win

291

Matthew Pavlich

Frem

2013

Loss

282

Matthew Boyd

WB

2016

Win

277

Eddie Betts

Adel

2017

Loss

268

Marcus Ashcroft

Bris

2001

Win

256

Greg Wells

Carl

1981

Win

249

Alastair Lynch

Bris

2001

Win

* Includes 142 as a coach.

Cameron, 47, has also waited longer than any other man in League history to compete in a Grand Final. By Saturday his patience will have held out for 29 years and 172 days since his playing debut – more than two years longer than Western Bulldogs 2016 premiership coach Luke Beveridge.

Longest waits by player and coaches for first Grand Final from playing debut

Span

Name

Club

Season

Result

Playing debut

29y, 172d

Leon Cameron

GWS

2019

?

WB 1990

27y, 141d

Luke Beveridge

WB

2016

Win

Melb 1989

24y, 54d

Ross Lyon

St K

2009

Loss

Fitz 1985

21y, 155d

Neale Daniher

Melb

2000

Loss

Ess 1979

21y, 64d

Wally Carter

NM

1950

Loss

NM 1929

Cameron's journey to his first Grand Final has been a circuitous one.

He was a skinny 17-year-old from South Warrnambool when he made his debut for Footscray in 1990, eventually playing 172 games for the Bulldogs and a further 84 for Richmond (his opponent on Saturday).

 

The classy wingman and defender played 11 finals, including three preliminary finals, coming agonisingly close to a Grand Final appearance when the Dogs suffered a heartbreaking two-point loss to Adelaide in the 1997 preliminary final at the MCG.

After hanging up the boots at the end of 2003, Cameron served as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs from 2004-10, losing preliminary finals in each of his last three years there, before a two-year stint under Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn delivered a Grand Final appearance in 2012.

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Cameron then landed the coaching job at GWS, which he has led to the finals in each of the past four seasons, losing preliminary finals in 2016 and 2017 and bowing out at the semi-final stage last year, before advancing to both his and the Giants' first Grand Final after knocking off Collingwood by four points at the MCG on Saturday.

The Giants can be comfortable in the knowledge that no one has served a better apprenticeship for the big occasion than their coach.

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*Data supplied by AFL statistics and history consultant Col Hutchinson.