Persistent Phoenician reaches 100 game milestone

Thursday 31 March 2022

The Uni Blacks wish to congratulate Cameron McNeil on reaching the 100 game milestone when he runs out onto the Crawford Oval in the Phoenix's round 1 match-up against Old Melburnians.

Hailing from Sandhurst Football Netball Club Club via St Hilda's College, Cameron followed in the footsteps of older brother, Trent, and joined the Blacks in 2013 - a decision that he will never regret.  He debuted in the Under 19s in that year, before graduating into the Phoenix the following season where he made a solid contribution during the regular season in the Phoenix side that went on to play in a losing Grand Final (2014).

Cameron was mainly deployed in the backline in his early years, before moving up the ground to wing / half-forward in more recent times. He has enjoyed the freedom of running up and down the wing which he now feels is his favourite position. No one who saw it will ever forget the time against arch nemesis Old Xavs, where after a spell on the bench, he came back onto the wing and took an astonishing intercept mark just outside the 50, playing on to slot his first goal of the season and following up with another snag not too long after. 

He is known for hard running (loves a pre-training Prinny lap), bullet-like/finger breaking passes and toughness. There have been several occasions where I have genuinely feared for his health and safety after seeing him get absolutely crunched in a pack or by a hip'n'shoulder - which would have signaled the end of days for most - only for him to bounce up like nothing had happened. This toughness has seen him dubbed as Cameron "McSteel". 

His performances on the Mystery Bus, after a few quiet beers with mates, has also seen him nicknamed Rowdy! 

Cameron is now one of the longest ever servants of the Phoenix. He must surely hold the record for being named as emergency on a Thursday night and then called up into the team on a Saturday morning. It’s not easy being on the cusp of selection each week, not knowing for certain whether he would have the opportunity to play, but that only made him more determined to give it his all and to enjoy the time on the park as much as possible. When stiff to miss out on selection, he would be the first to put his hand up to help out for a match day role and be part of the action. He has earned the respect of his peers, highlighted by his emergence into the Phoenix Leadership group in 2021. When asked what advice he would give a young Blacker making his mark, he replied: "Stick with your mates and the club through the good and tough times and they will stick by you too. Whether you are the best in the seniors or have never played football before, there is a spot on the field for you and the best bunch of guys around to make every kick, match and social event memorable."

I also want to give a special shout out to Cameron's parents, Paul and Jenny, who regularly travel down from Bendigo to watch Cameron play - even with the 9:20am starts! Paul has volunteered to be goal umpire on several occasions over the years which never goes under appreciated!

Cameron is immensely proud of reaching the milestone and so he should be! It is persistence personified and everyone at the Phoenix is rapt for him. Congratulations Rowdy McSteel -  a true Phoenix Legend.

      -     Sam Lane  (fellow University Blacks 100 gamer, teammate, & former Phoenix Coach)

Persistent Phoenician reaches 100 game milestone

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