Richmond to be applauded for faith in Hardwick

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    Richmond have re-signed Damien Hardwick for a further two years. This ties him to the club until the end of 2014 and is unquestionably the right move for a variety of reasons.

    Of course there will be knockers. As usual, there will probably be a stream of Richmond jokes at the ready, even more so if they happen to finish in that infamous ninth position this year.

    Some will argue that it’s ‘classic Tigers’, and that if a coach can get his contract renewed after two years of missing the finals, what message does it send? Critics will point to Essendon giving the exact same contract extension to Matthew Knights before 2010, only to sack him at the end of the very season they made the announcement.

    Any such gripes will go down as pot-stirring at best, and uneducated nonsense at worst.

    One of the unimaginative aspects of modern football opinion is to dredge up past mistakes as if the future will also be set in the same concrete. It is true that this will be the third coach to have a five-year run at Tigerland, with only one set of finals in this time (so far). And it is a fact that the Bombers were made to pay dearly for their exuberance in re-appointing Knights.

    But each decision can only be made on its merits, based on fresh factors and circumstances. What difference does it make to CEO Brendan Gale, President Gary March and coach Damien Hardwick what happened in 2008, 2005 or 2002?

    People in footy have short memories, and it was only the middle of 2010 when Richmond was 0-9 and many were wondering if this was the worst team since Fitzroy. One online bookmaker even paid out early on the Tigers for the wooden spoon, which was eventually ‘won’ by West Coast.

    Hardwick had inherited a playing list that could kindly be described as a train wreck and a side that had finished no higher than ninth in the previous eight seasons, with six of those being 12th or lower. A winning record of over 40 percent from that 0-9 position is suddenly looking a lot better isn’t it?

    Richmond had 21 players who played senior football in 2009 that are no longer at the club, which is the kind of turnover required by a team that is searching for the next squad of quality to take them up the ladder in the quest for premiership glory.

    The Geelong v St Kilda grand final in 2009 contained sides that were built from the 2000-2002 draft period, and the Cats in particular had the wisdom to exercise patience with their coach Mark Thompson. It was hard to argue that they planned poorly when he delivered a flag in his eighth year at the helm.

    Alistair Clarkson was ‘On the Couch’ on Foxtel a few weeks ago, preaching about the benefits of stability at a football club, and in particular about the disruptive media speculation that surrounds any coach out of contract. While this should never be a reason to re-appoint a coach early, it is a pleasing side benefit that shouldn’t be underestimated.

    Much has been made of Richmond’s tough start to this season. With matches against Carlton, Collingwood, Melbourne, Geelong and West Coast, at best they’ll start favourite in only one. There is a very real possibility that the Tigers could be 0-5 after this stretch of games, and if so, we will doubtless see some muckrakers trying to paint Hardwick’s extension as premature and planting the seeds of complacency.

    Disregard any such statements as the ramblings of fools.

    Any team containing Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Brett Deledio and Tyrone Vickery as the blocks to build a side around is entitled to think they are at the beginning of an upward curve. Everything Damien Hardwick has said and done to this stage of his coaching career has been impressive to most educated observers.

    Does this mean that the Tigers are going to make the finals this year? Unlikely. Does it mean they’re going to finish top four by the end of 2014? No one could know. Are they guaranteed a flag during Hardwick’s tenure? Absolutely not.

    Making a key decision such as a coaching appointment is about confidence, sound judgement, and faith. You draw confidence from your process, back the judgement of your instincts, and tie it all together with the faith that you’re on the right path.

    The Richmond power-brokers have done exactly that, so let’s judge them all in three years, not three days, three weeks, or three months.

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • March 16th 2012 @ 8:02am
      D.Large said | March 16th 2012 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      Well put, Hardwick looks the right man, sounds the right man and feels the right man. If the Richmond power brokers agreed, re-signing him was the most obvious choice in the world to end speculation and to give continuity.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 8:39am
      Rob said | March 16th 2012 @ 8:39am | ! Report

      I think there’s a basic rule in football when it comes to coaches that doesn’t get mentioned enough, get those that have achieved the ultimate success as a player and a coach. Hardwick has done that at 3 different clubs, that’s a great recipe for a birght future at Punt Rd. Look at recent flag winners, Thompson, Scott, Malthouse etc, Clarkson is one exception to this I guess.

      Given Hardwick’s history and what he has done with the Tigers so far, Richmond supporters can at least rest easily, that they have a man in charge that has the ability to take them all the way.

      I think this basic rule is one of the reasons that Essendon’s diecision to take Knights over Hardwick was short-sighted at best, and crazy at worst.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 8:45am
      Paul T said | March 16th 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      Richmond have gone about it the right way, stop any speculation and the weekly “will he get another contract” just to fill a page in a newspaper. He has the right attitude and what looks to be a good core of players to work with. Good choice i say.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 10:19am
      Duth said | March 16th 2012 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      Well put Cam, the speculation too that the Tiges would dump Dimma for Malthouse is put to bed early. The right decision was made as our great team looks to the future. At this stage in the clubs development stability is the number one factor required. Already we have seen significant changes under Dimma and all of them positive, so who is to say this won’t continue!

    • March 16th 2012 @ 10:30am
      Poohdini said | March 16th 2012 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      Hardwick seems a better fit then that of Frawley & Wallace. Seems to have that Tiger aggression that has been missing for some time now. I think the best of Hardwick is still yet to come & once he has developed & recruited the players he requires I think he is likely to show how good of a coach he really is.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 11:14am
      The Oudsman said | March 16th 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

      Hard to argue with the logic presented.

      I agree that Hardwick feels like he’s going to be successful – but all he’s really done so far is turn a list over (which was in dire need of reconstruction). It’s a bit similar to Bailey at Melbourne, who inherited a trainwreck of a squad, and spent three years reshaping it to more or less its current day version. Bailey’s failing was an inability to get his side playing hard competitive football week in week out. I think Hardwick already has him covered on this front, and whilst at face value the Tiger squad might be a player or two short of the depth that Melbourne have (although their stars are much better), he’s certainly better equipped to hold onto his job from this point forward.

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