GWS AFL coach Cameron quits
Mark McVeigh will take over coaching the Greater Western Sydney Giants after this weekend's match against Carlton on Sunday, after Leon Cameron dropped a bombshell and quit on Thursday.
Cameron, aged 49, said at a club media conference on Thursday it was a mutual decision:
"As much as sounds hard, it's a good decision.
"As tough a day as it is, it's the right result."
Giants chief executive David Matthews and chairman Tony Shepherd paid tribute to Cameron, saying he had not just built a team, but a football club.
Cameron will end his nine-year tenure at the Giants with the club languishing in 15th spot on the ladder with just two wins from eight games.
The Giants were poor last Saturday when Geelong beat them by 53 points in Canberra, with Cameron lamenting "we were boring at times".
Cameron's departure will pave the way for the Giants to chase renowned master coach Alastair Clarkson to become the club's third coach since joining the AFL in 2012. James Hird is a wildcard option to follow in his former coach Kevin Sheedy's footsteps, the latter being the Giants' inaugural coach. Other options could be experienced mentors such as Don Pyke or perennial speculation contender Ross Lyon, or greenhorns Adem Yze, Robert Harvey or former GWS player Luke Power.
Clarkson is taking a year away from football after departing as coach of Hawthorn, where he won four premierships between 2005 and 2021.
Cameron has been at the helm of the Giants since 2014 when he replaced Kevin Sheedy, who coached the club for their initial two seasons.
GWS chief executive David Matthews paid tribute to Cameron's contribution at the relatively young AFL club:
"To be a senior AFL coach is one thing, but to play an instrumental role in building a club is another thing entirely."
Cameron has a record of 94 wins, 81 losses and four draws. He took the club to the 2019 grand final but were thrashed by Richmond and reached the finals in five of his nine seasons, including last year.
Cameron was widely expected to not be offered a fresh contract for next season amid the Giants' middling results in 2022 when they have beaten only Gold Coast and Adelaide.
After his club's win over the Suns on April 2, Cameron revealed his future beyond this season had been put on hold, conceding at the time his future was up in the air.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said it was always a sad day in the game when a person of Cameron's quality steps away.
"Ten years (sic) as a senior coach is a long time ... what I do know about Leon is he is an outstanding person and an outstanding coach," he said.
"I'm sure as a coaching fraternity we'll reach out to Leon and get that support around him.
"But I'm sure it won't be the last we see of Leon in our industry, he's a fine coach and a fine person."
Fellow expansion club coach, Gold Coast's Stuart Dew observed:
"He's one of those coaches that has always reached out to myself as well. Very unselfish in that respect ... it was just a mutual understanding that we have to do things a little bit differently whether that's managing the list, what we contend with. That's been a good part of our relationship."
Developing Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir added:
"I just admire the way he's gone about it. He built a really strong, physical team there, and made three prelims and one grand final. He's done a fantastic job in his coaching career, and I think he's handled this year really maturely."
LEON CAMERON'S AFL PLAYING AND COACHING CAREER:-
Played 256 AFL games 1990-2003 (172 with Footscray/Western Bulldogs, 84 with Richmond). Bulldogs best and fairest 1993.
Assistant coach at Bulldogs and Hawthorn before joining GWS as senior assistant coach under Kevin Sheedy in 2013.
Took over as senior coach at GWS from 2014-22, 192 games. In nine completed seasons, five finals appearances, including two losing preliminary finals and the 2019 grand final.
Will coach the Giants for the last time on Sunday against Carlton, with assistant Mark McVeigh appointed as caretaker for the rest of the season.
Lost grand finals as an assistant coach at Hawthorn in 2012, and then as head coach at GWS in 2019.