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Where are they now? Rod Jameson

Katrina Gill  May 9, 2013 4:20 PM

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Rod Jameson of the Crows kicks away from goal during the 1997 AFL Grand Final between the St Kilda Saints and the Adelaide Crows at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

I spent a few days training with the Kangaroos in Melbourne. I’d pretty much made up my mind I was going to go to North.

A new regular feature in 2013, Where are they now? shines the spotlight on a former Crows great.

In this instalment, we reflect on the career of premiership hero and respected defender, Rod Jameson.

A member of the Adelaide Football Club inaugural squad, the first premiership team (1997), and a veteran of 153 games Rod Jameson is a Crows great. But if it wasn’t for a marathon, six-hour meeting at Glenelg Oval in 1990, Jameson might never have pulled on the Adelaide guernsey …

“I was actually drafted to North Melbourne in 1989. At that stage, the draft was a little different. You were drafted by a club and then had three years to decide whether you wanted to join that Club. Once the three years had expired, you went back into your local league and were back on the market.

“It all came to a head very quickly. I played for Glenelg in the 1990 Grand Final against Port Adelaide. We lost by two-and-a-half goals and the following week I spent a few days training with the Kangaroos in Melbourne. I’d pretty much made up my mind I was going to go to North, but I met with the Adelaide Football Club more out of courtesy than anything on the Friday. North had a reasonable indication I was pretty close to coming across.

“But I walked into the Glenelg Football Club at 10:00am and walked out at 3:30pm having signed with the Crows. It was a very long day. In the end, I was lucky enough to be one of the 10 concession picks the Crows had at the end of 1990. If Port Adelaide didn’t rush the gate, so to speak, it might have been another couple of years before there was an AFL club out of Adelaide and I probably would’ve gone to North.

“I was lucky I had the opportunity to play at AFL level and stay in my home state, and in the end it was too good to pass up.”

Jameson forged a successful career as a defender, playing on some of the greats of the game, but he’ll go down in history as the first-ever leading goalkicker of the Crows. He kicked 49 goals as a forward in 1991 …

“In my two years at Glenelg, I actually played as a midfielder, but I ended up playing in the Crows forward line in 1991 when Scott Hodges got injured. In 1992, we had a stinker of a year and that was about the time Tony Modra came onto the scene. In 1993, I progressed my way back to the midfield and then to the half-back line. From then onwards, I played most of my footy in the back half.

“It was always a bit of fun up forward. The first year was certainly enjoyable. It was a bit of an induction for all of us. We didn’t really know what it was all about, but we enjoyed our time.”

The crowning moment of Jameson’s 1991 season was his goal after the siren to give Adelaide the win over Fitzroy at Football Park. It was a night to remember for Jameson, who celebrated his 21st birthday the same night …  

“It was the 9th of June, 1991, and I remember it because it was the night of my birthday party. My birthday is the 30th of June, but when I looked at the footy schedule the night of the 9th was the only time we had a Saturday night free for a while.

“I’d only invited a dozen or so guys from the footy club because I was going to make it a pretty small and intimate gathering. But with the way the night unfolded, I ended up with in excess of 250 people including six of the Fitzroy blokes and got home at 10:00am the next day. It was a solid evening.

“The night itself was tough because of the weather conditions. It’s easy to say now, but I think I would’ve said the same thing if I’d missed the goal too; that I felt comfortable in my ability to kick a footy whether it was before or after the siren.

Click the play button above to watch Jamo's match winner

“It’s been magnified since. I work with the ABC (Radio) now and have for about 15 years, so as part of that role you look back over history at times. I think there have only been a dozen or so players in AFL history to kick a goal to win a game after the siren, so it’s a bit of fun.”

Six years later, Jameson was out to create more history – as a part of Adelaide’s first premiership team. He achieved that aim, but Grand Final day didn’t go exactly as he’d hoped when he injured his hamstring in the first quarter against St Kilda …

“It was disappointing. I stood Jason Heatley, who was a pretty mobile full-forward. It was about the 15-minute mark of the first quarter and he took off on a lead. I was a couple of feet behind him … I wish I’d just let him go. I tried to get there, but wasn’t able to. I overstretched and had to come off.

“I would’ve liked to have had a greater involvement on the day, but the end result was what we were all looking to achieve. I was very lucky to be a part of it, considering Mark Ricciuto had a massive year and was injured for that Grand Final. Matthew Liptak, Peter Vardy, Simon Tregenza and Jason McCartney didn’t play and of course ‘Mods’ was injured in the Preliminary Final. There were so many guys, who contributed, but missed out on that day.”

The injury was the start of a run of back luck …

“On the Wednesday after the granny, I had my hamstring scanned and it turned out I’d pulled some bone away from my ‘sitting’ bone. I didn’t actually tear a muscle; it was more like a small stress fracture. The injury restricted my pre-season greatly in 1998. At the time, there hadn’t been many similar injuries. More recently, a few players have done it, including Matthew Lloyd.

“I couldn’t train as flat out as I wanted to because the injury needed time to repair. I played the first trial game. It was a country game against Sydney in Sydney. I played full-back on Tony Lockett. He tackled me and smashed my collarbone. I was out for another seven weeks, so I had a bit of a slow start to ‘98’.”

Jameson struggled to cement his place in the team in a severely interrupted season. He worked his way back into the team in September, but the injury curse struck him again …

“I only played a dozen or so games in 1998. We played Melbourne at the MCG in the first final and we got smacked. I didn’t play for the Crows in that game; I played for Glenelg against the Eagles at Glenelg Oval on the Sunday.

“The next (Monday) night, we had a massive training at the Crows. In the last 30 seconds of training, I felt something in my right calf. I didn’t say anything about it. We were off to Sydney that week, and if we won we went through and if we lost we were out.

“I arrived at training on Wednesday night and Malcolm Blight said to me, ‘you’re in and you’re going to play in the middle, tagging Dale Lewis.’ Whether it was right or wrong, I felt that if I’d said, ‘look, I can’t play. I’ve done a calf’, I probably wouldn’t have been around at the Club much longer. So, I didn’t say anything.

“We didn’t do much at training that night because we’d had a big session on Monday night. On Friday night, we got to the SCG and after training I said to the doctor, ‘I think I’ve done something to my calf’. I had a couple of injections in my calf. I figured, if we won I would deal with it the next week and if we lost it wouldn’t matter. I had another injection at half time and we ended up winning. But my calf was too bad. I’d ripped it apart and couldn’t play in the Preliminary Final against the Western Bulldogs.

“The Wednesday night of Grand Final week, I was told I’d be back in the side. I rehabbed my calf every day for about eight hours, but it did play on my mind what happened to me in the ‘97’ GF. I thought, ‘I’d hate to go into the ‘98’ GF and do an injury again’, so I called it. John Reid and I went into the doctor and asked if we could get through with injections again, but the doc wasn’t prepared to do it. He felt the damage was too great and I didn’t want to take the risk, so I pulled the pin on ‘98’.

“I missed out, which was obviously tough personally, but we got the result we were after again.”

Jameson missed a number of games through injury in his career. He also famously missed three weeks because of suspension after getting into a scuffle with Port Adelaide forward Scott Cummings in the first-ever Showdown in 1997...

“Ironically, at the time Scotty Cummings and I did a radio skit with Baz and Pilko on a Friday at FIVEaa. The week leading into the Showdown, the build-up was huge. There was a lot of emotion given the history, the rivalry and how the AFL licenses came about.

“Coming from Essendon, Scott had a history with Jason McCartney, who had come over to the Crows from Collingwood. I was standing Cummings at full-forward and ‘Carts’ (McCartney) was standing Brendon Lade. Scott started mouthing off and that never really bothered me. I just stood side-by-side with Scott. He pushed Carts, Carts pushed him back and Scott grabbed him by the throat. At the time, I thought ‘here’s this bloke, he thinks he’s black and white through and through, we can have some fun’.

“It all sort of settled down. There was a fair bit not caught on TV, but then Scotty threw a punch at me and that’s when it all started up again. I was a bit surprised with how I responded. We built the rivalry up to be greater than what it was. We just need to play the game, but it probably got the better of me. Ironically, it was only the boundary umpire that reported me. I could tell you all the ins and outs, but really Scotty just had a big mouth.

“We lost that day. Blighty never said anything to me. Neil Craig was the only one who said anything to me. He wrote the number 18 up on the board, which was how many games we had left in the season, and I missed three of them because I was suspended. We ended up going on to win the GF that year (1997).

“It was a bit embarrassing going into FIVEaa the next Friday. I remember walking in. Baz and Pilko were pranksters and liked to have a bit of fun. They had boxing gloves and gowns hanging up and played Rocky music as we walked into the studio.”

Another memorable moment, which also involved FIVEaa (where Jameson worked), was his drop-kick in his final match against North Melbourne at Football Park in 1999 …

“In 1998, Baz and Pilko kept talking about how old-time football was gone and that the game was changing. To help bring the ‘fun’ back, they wanted a player in a game to do a forwards roll – to kick a goal or something on the field and then do a somersault … in the ‘98’ GF, Peter Vardy did it.

“The initiative was that every week the ‘challenge’ didn’t go off on, the prize got bigger. In 1999, Baz and Pilko wanted someone to do a drop kick. Matthew Liptak and I both grew up around Glenelg and played at the Bays together. We were both retiring at the end of ‘99’ along with David Pittman, but he was injured and didn’t play. ‘Lippy’ and I said, ‘how about we get together and if we do it we’ll split the prize and have a bit of fun with it?’

“For the last five weeks, Lippy and I were practicing our drop-kicks on Footy Park for half an hour after training every night. After I did the drop-kick, we ended up picking up about $14,000 worth of prizes. We had a lot of fun. We told the players what we were doing and they were comfortable with it. John Reid didn’t see the funny side of it, but it didn’t do any harm. Obviously, the culture and professionalism of the game has changed dramatically since then.

“We got pumped by North Melbourne that day and I remember the Kangaroo blokes having a laugh about my kick after the game. Malcolm Blight was asked about it in the post-match press conference, and he actually referred to the drop kick as the best forward entry we’d had all day because I’d hit Peter Vardy lace-out.”

Jameson returned to Glenelg after his playing days were over …

“I was an assistant to Tony McGuiness for a few years. I stepped away from the Club for 12 months, but was involved in a process where they appointed a full-time coach. Out of that, came David Noble. David and I caught up for a coffee for about three hours and I ended up helping him out as an assistant for a couple of years. In David’s third year, Glenelg played Adelaide in a trial at Norwood. ‘Craigy’ was impressed by the way David coached against him and gave him an interview – he went on to become an assistant at Adelaide.

“I stepped away from the Club again for a little bit. There were a couple of issues with how the board went about appointing and sacking their coaches. I think we, Glenelg, had 10 coaches in 15 years at one point. I ended up on the board for five years and was footy director. We were pretty proud of what we were able to do from an on-field perspective. We finished in the finals four of the five years and played in a Grand Final we should’ve won. We spent $1.2 million on a redevelopment of the facility and put a lot in place. I enjoyed my time there, but I’ve got a wife and three girls (15, 4 ½ and 2 1/2), so with family and work it made it difficult to stay involved.”

An accomplished businessman, Jameson has also made a success of himself away from the footy field. He currently heads up Westpac’s ‘Alpha’ brand, which centres on sports and entertainment. This follows three years in the home finance industry and 16 years in advertising prior to that. Jameson has also remained involved with the Adelaide Football Club …

“I’ve been on the Board of the Crows Foundation for just over two years and I’m enjoying that. I was involved in an initiative last year, which raised $10,000 for the Foundation and that was very rewarding.

“I’m also involved with the Club in the process of forming a committee of past players. We’re trying to reinvigorate the past player and official initiative. It’s a wonderful opportunity. Not many other clubs, aside from those that have come into the competition more recently, have the full list of past players and officials. It’s an opportunity to stay in touch. Even if they don’t feel as though they want to come back, it’s really an opportunity for people if and when they can to come to the Club.”