VFL Record RD 5 - Cameron Hunter
Clubs: Sandringham/Box Hill Hawks/Sandringham
Cameron Hunter’s memories of his first stint at Sandringham are painful in more ways than one.
Hunter strained a hamstring in the Qualifying Final in 2004, an injury which forced him out of contention for the team that started the Zebras dynasty.
Worse was in store, however, the following season when he was dropped from team on the eve of the Grand Final, which Sandringham again won.
While his career with Melbourne, the Sandringham affiliate came to an end the same year, Hunter decided he needed a change of scenery and headed to Box Hill Hawks.
But, it’s that desire to be part of a premiership that lured Hunter back to the Zebras this season.
“It was devastating and still burns inside me. I’m still chasing a VFL premiership,” Hunter said.
The 26-year-old explained that Sandringham now has a new coach – Andy Lovell – from his last stay at the club and the Zebras are now aligned with St Kilda.
“I just see him (Lovell) as a very experienced campaigner and while Sandringham hasn’t been as successful since that golden era it’s something we’re striving for again,” Hunter said.
“We want to gain the respect of the competition again and want to be looked upon as the best team in the competition.
“Obviously, Sandringham back then had a lot of good, experienced VFL players. The majority of them have gone, we see it as a good opportunity to build our own name, grow together and strive for that premiership.”
After Melbourne delisted Hunter he spent the next three seasons with Box Hill Hawks, but a myriad of injuries restricted him to just 24 games.
At the end of the 2008 season, Hunter decided he needed a break. He spent the bulk of last season overseas, a journey that took him to England, United States Of America and Mexico.
When he returned, Hunter finished off the season playing with Balwyn in the Eastern Football League, but that stop over only whetted his appetite to return to the VFL.
“I’d played at Sandringham, they were a successful club. I’d played 40 odd games there already and I wanted to play 50 or 100 games there,” Hunter said.
“That’s my main aim and I’ve been elected into the leadership group. It’s really driven me, it’s where I want to go.”
Hunter finds himself in a sea of new faces at Trevor Barker Oval. From his days as a Zebra only champion goal kicker Nick Saunter and best and fairest winner David Gallagher remain.
“It’s a young group, but we are really starting to bond with the St Kilda players, which is very important so that we are all playing for each other,” Hunter said.
“We’re still learning how each other plays, but we are starting to come together. We’re basing our game at our hardness at the ball and I think that’s why we have started the season so well.
“We’re very pumped and excited about what we can achieve.”