By: Daniel Cencic
Over 30 years at the one club and a myriad of accolades later, Knox Falcons stalwart Paul Tredrea will run out for game 300 this weekend.
Starting out at seven years of age in Knox’s under-8s in 1987, Tredrea would go on to forge one of the club’s most renowned careers, making the transition into senior footy in 1998.
Earning the honour of being named on the wing in Knox’s team of the ‘90s and team of the quarter century, a club best and fairest in 2002 while also named in the team of the decade from 2000 to 2009 as vice-captain, being a one-club player is something the 300-gamer treasures.
“It’s special in that it’s been the one club the whole time, it’s the only place I know really (and) when you see the place change and you grow with it, it’s just an enjoyable place to be,” Tredrea said.
“It’s nice to be acknowledged by and amongst your peers.”
It wouldn’t be long until Tredrea would taste the ultimate success with the Falcons in just his third year of senior footy, playing in Knox’s 2000 Division 3 premiership in a thrilling two-point win over Templestowe.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate really, to be 20 or 21 when you make that journey onto the podium for the first time to get your medal – it’s pretty significant,” he said.
“I was lucky when I played in under-18s we lost a couple of grand finals and then won one, but to do it as a senior was pretty special.
“I didn’t start playing senior footy until ‘98, and it was great to have a good time and take the club’s history to a new level.”
For Tredrea, it would take something pretty special to top Knox breaking its nine-year flag drought in 2000, but the best was yet to come seven years later.
In what is regarded as the greatest grand final the Eastern Football League has produced, Knox, led by EFL-great Stuart Wynd, battled South Croydon in an epic encounter which would end in a draw.
In extra-time, the Falcons scraped over the line by six points in what Tredrea regards as the best grand final in EFL history and his career highlight, lining up in the centre.
“I find it hard to disagree,” he said.
“When you’re running around, and you’ve slugged it out for four quarters and you’re pretty much out on your feet and you’ve got to go again, it’s pretty exciting and daunting.
“You don’t have a lot of time to think, so we regrouped a little and pretty much just got on with the job.
“It wasn’t until after that you see yourself running around on video and you get to remember it.
“We just had the 10-year reunion last year and that was fantastic, it probably got a bit more special in the time, as all good stories do, they tend to get a bit taller.
“The worst part about that game is that you don’t get to enjoy it with South Croydon because they made such a significant moment of that game – nobody wants to gather around for a 10-year reunion for a game you’ve lost.
“Full credit and respect to those guys, they made it everything that we made it as well.
“The ball bounced our way a few times and we put the icing on the cake – to the victor goes the spoils I guess.
“You don’t want to take the shine off the other one (2000), but for me personally, getting the club to Division 1 was always a challenge and the aspiration so it was pretty exciting in that regard.”
Knox has never been bereft of quality coaches, which have been integral parts of Tredrea’s footy journey.
“Unless you’ve been coached by those guys then they’d probably be of no significance but guys that have been coached by them would understand,” he said.
“Greg Hannon was my first senior coach and he was terrific for me – I was coming into a fairly solid side at the time and he’s been a good role model for me.
“Later on, Kevin Collins had a fairly significant impact at the club, Stuey (Stuart Wynd), Knighter (Jon Knight), and now Dave (current senior coach Dave Madigan) as well have certainly had an impact on my footy.
“We’ve been pretty lucky – I don’t know of too many clubs that have had constant success other than the last couple of years, and we’ve always been able to keep pushing forward.”
And push forward they have, with Tredrea defying the critics time and again to be donning the red and black at 38 years of age.
“Once you get to 30 there’s a lot of naysayers and I was pretty fortunate that I didn’t pay too much attention to them – I just got on with the job.”