Just 12 months ago Chris Mayne and Collingwood’s futures were at a crossroads.
After moving to Collingwood from Fremantle at the end of 2016, he managed three AFL games and had become the scapegoat for a frustrated Collingwood supporter base that lamented poor on-field performance.
“It was probably the biggest challenge I had faced in my career to date,” Mayne told AFLPlayers.com.au, just five days out from the biggest game of the year.
To take his mind away from the pressures of football Mayne sought solace in his passion for coaching, working with the Sandringham Dragons and Brighton Grammar.
On his own accord he reached out to the Dragons via email offering his services, hoping to hone his educational skills and develop his craft as a coach.
For the first half of the TAC Cup season Mayne was a specialist coach with Sandringham, attending weekly training sessions and working closely with the coaching staff and under-18 players before moving to fortnightly training as his season progressed with Collingwood.
“I have always loved the idea of coaching and working with younger players trying to make them better,” he said.
“I love being in a demanding environment, one that is challenging but also rewarding.”
Coaching is a path Mayne has worked towards from his first few days in the AFL system, studying a teaching degree and working closely with his local club in Perth.
Under the tutelage of former Fremantle General Manager of Football Operations Robert Shaw at Brighton Grammar and Dragons head coach Jeremy Barnard, Mayne developed skills he hopes to apply to a coaching career post-football.
“I took away a lot from working with them and the more you can dive into the industry from an early age to a senior level, you can take a lot from those experiences.”
Moving away from Perth and to an unknown city with fiancée Britt, Mayne faced adversity he felt was beyond his control.
“From the media, to the fans, to the environment, it was a pretty challenging time. We came over united and it was a difficult situation that we had to approach together,” he said.
“Looking back on it, I would never have believed I am in the position I am in now.”
Supported by Britt, Mayne spent the off-season working to regain control of how they would face 2019 and beyond together.
“I knew I was here for another three years, so I thought lets go away with a plan, work on a few things and come back with an open mind.”
“I feel like I am always one that will honour what I said I would do in my contract. I felt like I came back and ticked all those boxes that I said I would.”
Mayne also worked closely with the club and assistant coaches Garry Hocking and Robert Harvey to focus on his strengths and find his niche in Collingwood’s team.
“Working with Buddha and Harvs, they focused on my strengths and how I can best help the team.”
“They were amazing for me all year and they still have been.”
“I’ve built a really close relationship with them and I feel like the place and environment we are in now and have been all year is really about us as a team.”
After an emotional and demanding start to his career at Collingwood, Mayne’s hard work has paid dividends as he shifts his focus to a second chance at the “ultimate” glory.
“Matthew Pavlich played for 16 years and he only got one crack at it. I remember him saying to me when I was drafted, ‘don’t waste your time in the system.’’’
11 years on, he thought his chance at premiership glory had escaped him but with another opportunity Mayne doesn’t want to let this one slip.