After securing his dream move to Collingwood back in 2016, Treloar thought he would be a Magpie for life, immediately coming in as the team’s marquee midfielder.
With Treloar in tow, the Magpies soared to heights that even their most passionate fans could not believe in 2018, coming within a kick of securing what would’ve been the club’s VFL/AFL record-equalling 16th premiership.
Incredibly, inside three years, Treloar went from being an ANZAC Medallist and one of Collingwood’s key pieces to being unwanted by the club, and was traded in brutal fashion during last year’s off-season. Not a day went by during the trade period without a story about Treloar and the Magpies impending break-up with the star midfielder’s partner, netballer Kim Ravaillion dragged into the firestorm as Collingwood claimed it would be best for Treloar to seek a move to Queensland after she signed a deal with Super Netball club the Queensland Firebirds.
It was a sad saga, with a tearful Treloar admitting it had hurt the couple deeply in an interview in March.
Still, Treloar has moved on and holds no ill-will towards his old team. With a return to a stage that caused him heartbreak in 2018, Treloar revealed how that experience had spurred him on.
“Coming so close, but feeling so far, [the 2018 grand final] will always hurt me,” he told AFL360 in the lead-up to the grand final.
“It’ll hurt me until the day I die because of the manner and the way we lost; we were up the whole game and lost basically in the last two minutes of the game.
“It still hurts me to this day, but I did promise myself that this time around, no matter what the result is, I’ll enjoy it a lot more.”
Now 28 and one of the more experienced members of a seasoned Bulldogs outfit, Treloar is wanting to change something more than just the result of the grand final.
“When I think about that year and that game, it hurts me,” he said.
“Thinking about it now pulls at the heartstrings for me because we were this close. I’ve actually never seen [vision of his tears after the grand final] before, never in my life, it’s quite emotional for me thinking about it because we were so close to winning and it meant so much to so many of us.
“I made a promise to myself that I never want to feel that feeling again and if I’m in that position to just give my absolute best that I can give for myself to make my teammates better.
“I don’t want to lose this week, but I want to appreciate and be grateful of the opportunity that I have ahead of me. Win or lose, I’m going to be thankful for the position I am in and grateful that I’m actually here representing this great football club.”
It is ironic that Treloar’s 2018 and 2021 season have some parallels that go beyond grand final appearances at the end of them.
Like he did this year, Treloar started 2018 on fire before suffering a pair of serious hamstring injuries that cost him the back half of his season.
In both years he was able to make it back for his club’s finals campaign, but the star midfielder was dealt another curveball despite his team’s finals success.
However, Treloar recovered and played an important role in the side’s preliminary final thumping of Port Adelaide, finishing with 23 touches and a goal.
“Earlier in the year, he was brilliant and it was proven in the Brownlow Medal, the way he was attracting votes,” Bulldogs great Brad Johnson said of Treloar’s season.
“Then he got injured, and when you get injured you lose that momentum within your season. He was flying along [and had] settled into the Bulldogs’ way, and had a real niche in the way that he was playing his footy and then lost it.
“He came back okay and played good games, then just had the one poor performance.
“He responded in the prelim now that sets the base up for what he needs to do at the start of this grand final. It’s not trying to be the best player, it’s that element of what he started the game with last week. He just has to replicate it.”
Treloar’s struggles both on and off the field have been laid bare over the last few seasons, with the on-baller becoming a key advocate for mental health awareness.
It is arguable that no player across the entire competition has endured the emotional rollercoaster that Treloar has since that fateful 2018 grand final.
If he ends up with the premiership cup in his hands on Saturday night, good luck convincing him that the entire journey wasn’t worth it.