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Damien Hardwick leaves Richmond as arguably its best coach — due to unwavering help from above


With eight minutes left within the first half of the 2010 season opener, Richmond midfielder Daniel Jackson lined as much as take a comparatively simple shot at aim.

Coming off the again of his most constant season after six years within the league, the then-70-gamer was one the few shining lights of a disastrous 2009, in a fixture that had seen the Tigers lose 16 matches and resulted in veteran coach Terry Wallace strolling away from Punt Street.

All through all of it, Jackson had been sturdy and dependable, the antonyms to what the membership had principally been in a 12 months to neglect.

He was the longer term — and 2009 was the previous.

Already trailing the Blues by 33 factors on that cool Thursday night time, this shot at aim was as symbolic because it was consequential.

Damien Hardwick speaks to his group throughout his first match as head coach. It could be an sad end result for the Tigers.()

Nail it by way of the heart of the objectives and the Tigers may experience a wave of momentum into half-time and overrun a Carlton group that had its early-season eyes already set on September.

Miss, and the heads of a comparatively younger group would droop in disappointment, resigned to their destiny.

With hope on the road, Jackson strode in and thumped his boot into the ball as he would have accomplished hundreds of instances earlier than.

It was an unpleasant end result.

Spinning a chaotic dance of one thing between a drop punt and a torpedo, the Sherrin veered to the precise of the behind publish and fell to the bottom like a drunken groomsman on the finish of a very buoyant marriage ceremony.

Damien Hardwick reacts as Daniel Jackson’s shot sprays large.

Within the coaches field, newly minted chief Damien Hardwick crossed his arms and set free an aggressive “pfft”.

His group would lose by 56 factors.

“So far as I have a look at it, that is as poor as we will get,” Hardwick mentioned after the sport.

“That is as poor as I’ll be as head coach, and our group — that is as poor as it’ll be additionally.

“Look, it is a studying [curve]. We have simply obtained to get higher a hell of so much faster.”

Per week later, they’d lose by 72 factors to the Bulldogs. Then back-to-back 55-point losses to the Swans and Demons. Then a 39-point loss to the Dockers, and a 108-point drubbing by the hands of the Cats.

It was a dropping streak that will final the primary 9 matches of Hardwick’s profession, and see the Tigers end the season solely half a recreation higher off than the 12 months earlier than.

“It was no rougher to my introduction to AFL teaching,” then-Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson mentioned after the season opener.

“It is a robust caper and he is taken on a bunch of gamers that he has to construct from the bottom up.”

Trent Cotchin, Shane Edwards, Dustin Martin and Shaun Grigg stroll off the sector after a loss early in Damien Hardwick’s teaching profession.()

Amongst that group of gamers had been 4 names that Hardwick hoped would type the inspiration on which to construct an unlikely dynasty.

In first-gamer Dustin Martin, he noticed an aggressive ball-winner, a bullocking teenager who introduced that Collingwood-like mongrel to a membership that had so usually lacked the unsociable fringe of the perfect groups.

In 26-gamer Trent Cotchin, Hardwick had a midfielder with blue-ribbon class, an previous head on a younger physique who had already proven he may flip the fortunes of a recreation with a hardball get and releasing handball.

In 48-gamer Shane Edwards, he had a fast-moving and fashionable prospect who had proven in glimpses a capability to not solely get the ball, however damage the opposition on the scoreboard.

And in 47-gamer Jack Riewoldt, he had a key ahead who performed with unbridled enthusiasm and athleticism, together with his 57 objectives only a small pattern measurement of what the Tasmanian may do if given the chance.

The constructing web site was a large number, however the supplies had been sturdy. The architect was intelligent. And the buyers had been all in.

Damien Hardwick and Brendon Gale embrace after the Tigers win the 2020 premiership in Brisbane.()

“We have got a brand new coach, we have a brand new recreation plan, we have a brand new manner of doing issues,” an enthusiastic Brendon Gale mentioned in a now-famous interview with Footy Categorized throughout the 2010 season.

“I make no apologies for the actual fact we need to be one of the best soccer membership. We need to be the best.”

The membership boss had earlier despatched an inner doc that mentioned the Tigers can be aiming for a membership base of 75,000 folks, a debt-free future and, crucially, three flags by 2020.

It was a plan that was roundly criticised each inside and out of doors the membership for being too daring.

“I am not embarrassed, I am really pleased with that,” Gale mentioned when pushed on his desires.

“We have got a imaginative and prescient to compete and be one of the best. One of the best on the sector and off the sector.”

And in Hardwick, the Richmond powerbrokers noticed one of the best.

They noticed one of the best as he made incremental enhancements to the win-loss file, going 8-1-13 in 2011, 10-1-11 in 2012, and finally making finals in 2013 on the again of a 15-8 season.

They noticed one of the best as he obtained video games into the youngsters, supported ably on the sector by the likes of Jackson, Brett Deledio, and Chris Newman, who gave their all for the yellow and black however would not style final premiership success.

They even noticed one of the best because the Tigers did not make the finals in 2016, and the knives glinted within the Melbourne solar with calls for that Hardwick be moved on in favour of contemporary blood.

And at last, they noticed one of the best as Hardwick stood on the dais within the remaining match of the season on three separate events, fulfilling the unlikely dream of his best supporter, and ending many years of heartache for the long-suffering Tiger Military.


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