Originally from the Napier Imperials, Adamson was a follower and made his South Melbourne debut in the first round of their inaugural VFL season. He captained South Melbourne in 1899 and led the club all the way to the Grand Final, where he played as a fullback in a narrow loss to Fitzroy. His brother, Jack, also played for South Melbourne, in the 1897 and 1898 seasons.
Adamson later moved to Western Australia and worked at the Bank of Australasia. He was found dead on the bank's premises on 10 October 1914, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his temple.