DOCKER-turned-Demon Harley Ballic has opened up about the homesickness, isolation and personal issues that marred his two years with Fremantle and made him desperate to return to loved ones in Melbourne.

The 20-year-old forward/midfielder was more relieved than most during this NAB AFL Trade Period when he found a new home with the Demons, who gave up draft pick No.66 in return.

Balic, who Fremantle drafted from the Sandringham Dragons TAC Cup side with the No.38 pick in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, had a tough time of it with the Dockers.

His first season in the AFL system was ruined by a long-term wrist injury that required several operations and kept him out of the WAFL until the last three games.

Balic started 2017 in more promising fashion, starring in the opening two WAFL rounds to earn four AFL games between round three and seven. (He missed round five with a hip problem.)

However, he made just one more appearance for the season – at WAFL level in early July – as he was granted two extended periods of personal leave.

Balic's reflections on his experiences, including the admission that it all became "too much" for him to deal with alone, are a sobering reminder of how much some AFL players sacrifice to pursue their football dreams.

"The homesickness and the isolation over there and not having anyone there for my ups and downs probably was the biggest thing … Perth is so far away and I didn't have anyone from my immediate family close to me," Balic revealed in an interview with

"After games I couldn't celebrate with anyone, and if things went wrong I didn't have a shoulder to lean on.

"I grew up a lot through those times but I'm glad to be back (in Melbourne) with family and friends now.

"It was tough. I had some setbacks and some personal things going on and homesickness and it just all got too much for me to keep pushing through by myself."

Balic believes part of his struggle could be attributed to having an unhealthy focus on football and no genuine outlet outside the game.

"I just trained and then I over-trained and fatigued myself mentally and physically. I’d go and hit a golf ball every now and then but I was no good so I didn't do it a whole lot. I didn't have an escape," he said.

He was grateful for the compassionate way in which he was treated by the Dockers, particularly coach Ross Lyon and football operations manager Chris Bond.

"Ross was amazing through that and so was Chris Bond and everyone at the club. They were very understanding and gave me a couple of opportunities to come home which was really good. I was very lucky to have them," he said.

Feeling more balanced and buoyed by a broader support network, Balic is now aiming to improve his endurance and his kicking to push his case for selection in round one.