When Jordan Dawson first walked through the doors at West Lakes to tour the Club and meet his potential new teammates, he immediately felt at home.
Dawson was out of contract and, after six years of being on Sydney’s list, the 24-year-old was ready to return to SA and be closer to family.
He had signaled to Sydney his intentions of coming home and, growing up a Crows supporter, the fairytale of being able to pull on those tri colours was strong.
But it was meeting the people and getting a sense of the culture building that helped the utility choose to continue his career at the Crows.
“I had an instantly good feeling about the place,” Dawson told AFC Media.
“Growing up as an Adelaide supporter and coming down to AAMI Stadium for a few games when I was younger, I always had a good feeling about the place.
“The people (drew me here).
“Even before I signed, a lot of players, staff and coaches messaged me and rang me to ask if I needed anything or if I wanted to know anything.
“My girlfriend Milly and myself just felt really welcomed by the Club.”
After a long AFL Trade Period, the Crows finally secured Dawson via a trade with the Swans on Wednesday.
Dawson grew up in Robe, a town along the state’s Limestone Coast with his mum, dad, brother and sister.
He played many different sports but said Aussie rules quickly became his passion.
It wasn’t long until his talent was spotted and Dawson went on to star in college football games with Scotch, while earning a SANFL league debut with Sturt.
He played five games with the Double Blues before being snapped up by Sydney with pick No. 56 at the 2015 AFL National Draft.
“I started footy when I was about five in AusKick,” Dawson said.
“I grew up loving all sports but footy was my number one priority and I would always play on the front lawn with my older brother.
“I came up to Adelaide for school and played some under-16 footy with Glenelg before going out to Sturt and then heading to Sydney for the last six years.
“I’ve always seen myself finishing my career in Adelaide and wanting to play footy for Adelaide so I thought the time was right to get back and join the Crows.”
Dawson played 64 AFL games for Sydney and enjoyed a breakout year in 2021, lining up in all 23 matches.
He ranked elite in the competition this past campaign for disposals with an average of 22.3 per match, tackles and metres gained (467.6) to finish third in the Swans’ Best and Fairest.
The utility also has a booming left foot and can be used on the wing, up forward or in defence.
Importantly, after six seasons on an AFL list, Dawson also brings experience and leadership to a relatively young Crows list.
“I can add a lot of inside, outside balance as a footballer,” Dawson said.
“I think my ball use and knowledge of the game is pretty strong.
“I like to think I’ve got a lot of leadership potential and I’d like to explore that more, especially with a younger team coming through.
“Growing up I spent a lot of time probably not knowing how much I was practising and training, I was just having fun.
“But I think now I put a lot of time and effort into my craft and I think it’s sort of developed over time.”
Although the desire to come home was always there, Dawson said moving states at 18 helped him develop as a person and a footballer.
“I learnt a lot of life lessons moving to Sydney, a lot of independence and I had to grow up pretty fast,” Dawson said.
“I think that helped me a lot but it was quite hard being away from family and friends for so long.
“Sydney helped me a lot and they were awesome in that respect in understanding how important that void is to fill.
“But ultimately I wanted to come home and there’s nothing like being back in Adelaide.
“My girlfriend’s parents are also from Robe and I’ve obviously got a brother, sister and my parents and they love watching me play.
“It’ll be good for them to come to home games.”