In the 2017 trade period Collingwood and Fremantle discussed the possibility of sending Chris Mayne back to Perth.
Just 12 months into into a four-year deal reportedly worth $2 million, the Pies even considered giving Freo a better draft pick than they would receive for sending Mayne – and the responsibility for paying his contract – back to WA.
The deal didn't happen and Mayne stayed put. The 29-year-old only played three games in 2017 –rounds one to three – before being stranded in the VFL the rest of the season. After another poor season where they missed the finals, the Mayne trade was seen by some as a deal symptomatic of Collingwood's struggles.
However, 13 games into 2018 with the Pies in the top four, Mayne has played every game since round six. With James Aish injured Mayne has stepped in on the wing and is holding his own.
After the Pies 20-point win over the Blues on Sunday – where he also spent the final term running with Kade Simpson – Mayne admitted the possibility of being shipped back to Freo was difficult to take. Especially when it became public knowledge.
You wouldn't be human for it not to get to you.
"You wouldn't be human for it not to get to you," Mayne told Fairfax Media.
"It wasn't ideal, what happened, but again, that's footy and things can change pretty quickly and that's what we have seen this year.
"I didn't want to go away and sook about it. It was about getting better, to keep putting my hand up to play, wanting to keep being a part of it. And that's all I ever wanted to do, I came here to be a part of something special I believe that we have the list to do it.
"It doesn't always work out the way you think it will but if you keep pursuing it and persisting hopefully it comes through."
Mayne has been vegan for "a couple of years" and last off-season decided he needed to build the capacity to fill a position other than half-forward. That would give him a better chance to play senior football.
"I focused on things that I could control," he said. "Trying to find little areas in my game that I could improve to give me that opportunity to play different roles.
"My diet has been a big part of my transformation, I am looking at trying to be leaner but also find engine run as well.
"Tom Phillips is one of the best going around at the moment because of his engine. So trying to improve that and then just trying to understand the game plan to impose myself at the right time of the game."
The former Docker said all the coaches, in particular Garry Hocking and Robert Harvey, had been fantastic for him, as had Nathan Buckley and the club's leadership group.
But in those hard times where the footy world were questioning him and the club were thinking of offloading him, it was his family who helped most.
"I have an amazing partner. You know she was my rock. She was there driving me, pushing me and helping me and keeping me focussed.
"My family were really good, support network, friends, manager. Everyone keeping the mind as steady and focussed as we could.
"I just need to stack it up each week now. Keep working with my coaches … [they help] make things real simple and focus on my strengths and where to improve."
Anthony Colangelo is a sports and breaking news reporter at The Age
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