Sometimes what happens off-field in an AFL club can be just as important as what happens on-field. Or even more so. Like it was on 19 October 2017 when the Brisbane Lions secured Charlie Cameron in a trade from the Adelaide Crows.

Six years on it is the deal that delivered and the most dangerous small forward in the competition and the No.3 goal-kicker of his time at the Lions. It is the deal that keeps on dealing. A masterstroke from the Lions’ list management team.

Cameron has kicked 267 goals for the Lions since the trade in which the club sent pick #12 in the 2017 National Draft to the Crows to bring Queensland-born Cameron home.


Only Geelong key forwards Tom Hawkins (343) and Jeremy Cameron (303) have kicked more goals than Cameron in that time. And no player traded in that time has played anything like the 126 games Cameron has given the Lions. Next best are Melbourne’s Jake Lever (101), Gold Coast’s Nick Holman (101) and Essendon’s Jake Stringer (100).

As the now dual All-Australian small forward prepares to play his 200th AFL game against Port Adelaide in the qualifying final at the Gabba on Saturday night the Cameron trade offers a fascinating into the workings of a list management operation.

It all goes back to the nightmare of the ‘Go Home Five’, when interstate draftees Elliott Yeo, Sam Docherty and Billy Longer, born in 1993, and Jared Polec and Patrick Karnezis, born in 1992, fled town at the end of the 2013 season.

Heading to the Qualifying Final at The Gabba? →

Five players born between April 1992 and October 1993 exited together to leave a gaping hole in the age balance of the Lions playing list. So List Manager Dom Ambrogio, then Football Manager David Noble and their ‘team’ set about filling the gap.

It was never going to happen quickly as Justin Leppitsch replaced Michael Voss as Brisbane coach going into the 2014 season, but within three years it was done.

Cameron, born July 1994, was the first part of the age puzzle when he joined Brisbane in the 2017 trade period. And when Jarryd Lyons, Lachie Neale, Lincoln McCarthy and Marcus Adams, all born between July 1992 and October 1993, followed in the 2018 trade period the age balance of the Lions list was restored.

After an extended trade period standoff the Lions gave up pick #12 in the 2017 National Draft for Cameron, who had played 73 goals and kicked 87 goals in four years with the Crows. He’d played seven finals over three finals series, including the 2017 grand final loss, and kicked five goals in the 2017 preliminary final win.

If you didn’t know his early output it was a lot to ‘pay’ for a player originally taken at pick #7 in the 2013 rookie draft one spot after the Lions had taken Aspley’s Isaac Conway, brother of Lions AFLW star Sophie and who was only 12 months on the Lions AFL list without playing at senior level.

But for an emerging star of the competition, now a two-time All-Australian and a key figure in the Lions’ 2023 finals campaign, it was more than value. Especially when the Crows’ return on pick #12 has been 79 games and 117 goals from Darcy Fogarty.

Cameron was targeted by Brisbane after a brilliant Round 9 performance against the Lions in Round 9 2017, when he kicked four goals in the third quarter, including one after a long run and another from a high pack mark. A sneak preview of what was to come.

Noble, former Crows Head of Football, was a key part of the Cameron recruitment. Having moved to Brisbane only 12 months earlier, he had a pre-existing relationship with the Mt.Isa-born graduate of Brisbane’s Marist College.

The sticking point was the fact that Cameon still had a year of his Adelaide contract to run, but as is more common than not in such circumstances, the prospect of forcing a player to stay against his wishes and potentially losing him 12 months later for nothing was eventually a risk the Crows were not prepared to take. They did the deal and Cameron came ‘home’.


Year 1 for the electrifying goalsneak, who inherited jumper #23 from Josh Schache, was a mixed bag. He played the first 11 games in Chris Fagan’s first season in charge for 17 goals but only one win, but missed the next 11 games with an ankle problem.

He has not missed In six years since, having played now 115 games in a row. It’s the third-longest ‘live’ streak in the League, behind Collingwood’s Jack Crisp (211) and Melbourne’s Christian Petracca (130) and ahead of St.Kilda’s Callum Wilkie (108).

And it’s the second-longest streak in Brisbane history, having topped Jack Redden (112), Simon Black (107) and Nigel Lappin (103). Ahead of him is Marcus Ashcroft’s 170-game streak from 1992-2000, which ranks 11th in AFL history.

Year by year Cameron has kicked 57-31-55-54-53 goals to rank 5th-6th-4th-6th-5th in the League during his time in Brisbane.

He’s kicked three or more goals 45 times – 24 x 3, 14 x 4, 3 x 5, 3 x 6 and a career-best seven. Only Hawkins (61) and Cameron (54) have more 3+ games.

Just as important has been his tackling pressure. Especially the increasing numbers. After 27 tackles in 2018 he’s gone 49-42-53-77-70 year-by-year since then.

Among 11 players to have kicked 200 goals in the past six years Cameron’s 66.4% conversion rate from 267 goals 135 behinds is best. Bailey Fritsch (63.7%), Hawkins (62.8%), Jeremy Cameron (62.7%) and Taylor Walker (62.7%) are next best.

Significantly, Cameron is one third of the most dangerous three-pronged goal-kicking weapon in the upcoming finals. The combination of Cameron, Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood have kicked 143 goals this year between them. Of the other finals sides, GWS (132) and Carlton (130) are next best from Collingwood (107), Port Adelaide (99), Sydney (97), Melbourne (96) and St.Kilda (93).

Cameron will join the AFL’s “4.98% Club” on Saturday night - the 652nd player among 13,096 players all-time to 200 games. And just the 16th Queensland football product to 200 behind Nick Riewoldt (336), Jason Akermanis (325), Marcus Ashcroft (318), Michael Voss (289), Jason Dunstall (269), Jarrod Harbrow (262), Dayne Zorko (247), Gavin Crosisca (246), Mal Michael (238), David Hale (237), Max Hudghton (234), Sam Gilbert (208), Charlie Dixon (202), Scott McIvor (200) and Daniel Merrett (200).