Koroit loses premiership coach Gary Cameron

LEADER: Gary Cameron (third from left, front row) with the 1973 Koroit premiership team. Cameron coached the Saints for six seasons.
LEADER: Gary Cameron (third from left, front row) with the 1973 Koroit premiership team. Cameron coached the Saints for six seasons.

THE Koroit Football Netball Club is mourning the loss of its 1973 premiership coach Gary Cameron.

The former ruckman passed away at age 69.

Cameron began his football with St Albans and showed enough talent to be picked up by North Melbourne.

He played one senior game for the Kangaroos, against Essendon in round eight of the 1967 season.

Cameron played his first game for Koroit in 1972.

He found his way to the Saints through his brother Les, who had also played for North Melbourne, earning four senior games.

Les came to Koroit in 1971, leading the Saints to their first ever Hampden league premiership.

Gary took over from Les as coach for the 1972 season, playing 16 games in his debut season, leading Koroit to nine wins and nine losses, but no finals appearances.

In 1973, Cameron found his feet, kicking 31 goals from 21 games and leading the Saints to an 11-6 record in the home-and-away season.

He then piloted Koroit through a memorable final series, beginning with a 12-point win over Camperdown in the qualifying Final. The Saints then defeated Colac in the second-semi final by 21 points to earn their place in the grand final.

Colac was again the Saints’ opponent come grand final day at Reid Oval.

Koroit got off to a flying start, kicking four unanswered goals with a strong breeze to lead by 23 points at quarter-time.

The Tigers fought back hard in the second quarter, closing the margin to just seven points. The game tightened up in the second half with Colac kicking three goals against the wind in the third to close within four points with just a quarter left to play. But Koroit stood tall in the last quarter, playing inspired football to eventually win by 15 points, with Cameron among the best players.      

Cameron went on to play 117 games for Koroit, kicking 90 goals. He coached the club in two stints, 1972-74 and 1976-78.

In his final season, it was heartbreak for Koroit when it went down to Warrnambool by just one point in the preliminary final.