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