Coach Damien Hardwick

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sregit

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Feb 9, 2012
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I 100% wanted him gone after 2016 - been loving my generous servings of humble pie ever since! Congrats dimma
I think I've had multiple serves of that humble pie.
I credited our other coaches such as Caracella for our success. I now think I was Wrrrrrrrong. Could not be prouder of our team and especially our coach. Thanks Dimma.
 

Meteoric Rise

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I spent ten years out of the country and returned to having a presence in Australia around the time Hardwick was appointed. When I was living out of the country I maybe got to watch 2-3 of our games per year if I was really lucky. Mostly I noticed we weren’t much worth watching. By the time Hardwick was appointed I was watching most games because I had started betting on AFL with a bit of intent.

What struck me even in his first half season when we didn’t win a game and you could see there were massive puzzle pieces missing in the playing personnel, was you could see the players playing to a system. Despite all the losses, some of them by huge margins, I found this enjoyable to watch compared to games I had seen in the preceding 10 years. I recall saying to my betting partner that this team appears to be in good hands and when they start winning they should keep winning.

Then through all the years now seen as a bit frustrating 2011-2016, I could still see that when the proper structure of the team was on field, this system was evident in our play. We might not have had the best system going around, but all the players had bought in and consequently we were winning a lot of games. Through the difficulties of 2016 all the reports were the players loved Hardwick and he still had them buying in. Those reports were enough for me to want him retained because I know from experience this is one of the great challenges of coaching, to get all the team members on the same page as each other, the same page you are on.

Hardwick is really good at that.

I love the way he coaches. He doesn’t get funky. Doesn’t try to trick the opposition or outsmart anyone. He just tries to build a fighting force that can break opponents down with a consistent style of play. He is a really good solid decision maker and I will take that over a clever Dick coach any day. Hardwick keeps his eye on what matters most all the time, and does not try to win games with his coaching. The media hate it because they fawn over the “genius” coaches Clarkson, Scott, who get clever at times. The Longmires and Hardwicks are not seen as so tactical, but you try breaking down one of their teams when it matters, it is really difficult.

What a coach Hardwick has been. In many ways he is like Hafey was. He doesn’t try to look or sound clever. He just sets a good game plan and gets the players to buy into it completely. Like Hafey, the players absolutely love Hardwick, they know he does not have hidden agendas, and that he cares about them and values them.

Richmond have had some great coaches over time, even if you leave aside the guys who were great elsewhere but not so great at Richmond, probably through no fault of their own, like Jeans, Walls.

Dan Minogue, Checker Hughes, Percy Bentley, Jack Dyer, Len Smith(for a short but important period,) and Hafey of course. There are others who might have done well had they been given better opportunities, Jack Titus springs to mind. But Hardwick stands proudly upon that list, and well done to him. Even without such a tremendous finals record he would have been a terrific coach, but the club’s record in must win games and finals under Hardwick is phenomenal, so this lifts him into a completely different spectrum in the hierarchy of AFL coaches throughout history. He wins games. Consider:

2010 - 6 wins including 2 v finals teams was a huge achievement given what he had to work with.

2011 - 8.5 wins including a draw against what had been a very strong St Kilda team was a good step forward.

2012 - Still only 10 of his later premiership players in place and a 10-1-11 record with 111% and a few tight losses in there, but wins against both Grand Finalists, we were starting to win big games.

2013 - 15-7 record and missed the top four by one win, starting to get some really big wins.

2014 - Coruscating run to make finals by winning 9 consecutive elimination matches once some key players returned from injuries. 12-10 overall record.

2015 - Again 15 wins and missed top 4 by a game.

2016 - Horrible year with 8 wins and a lot of things going wrong, but the last 5 games we couldn’t make finals there, and were playing for draft picks.

2017 - Unstoppable in the finals campaign after losing 3 consecutive games by under a kick rounds 7-9 had thrown our claims to a double chance into difficulty.

2018 - Clearly the strongest team throughout the regular season with an 18-4 record. Recorded our only finals loss in a strong 3 year finals run of 7-1.

2019 - Overcame major injury problems to win the last 12 games, and in so doing, first secured a top four berth, and then the flag.

2020 - Again have required a very strong late season run to get into the top four with a game remaining.

There are two outstanding things about what the Hardwick coached Tigers have achieved for me:

1. volume of wins has increased such that for the last 8 seasons, the median expectation is to win more than 2 of 3 matches played in a given season. That is really strong and a massive achievement in itself.

2. tougher to define this, but if you give Hardwick three years lead in before making finals and go from 2013 onwards, the record in games that need to be won so as to make the final 8, 4 or progress in finals looks astonishingly good. We have lost 4 finals to be eliminated but won 7 to either progress or avoid elimination. 9 straight wins to secure a top 4 berth has happened once. 9 straight wins to secure a finals spot has happened once. So that is 18-0 in critical home and away games in 2014 and 2019 combined. If you consider critical games that were won and lost in other seasons to make and miss finals, or top 4 or top 2 berths, I wouldn’t be surprised if our must win big game record is somewhere near 35-10 or so since and including 2013 under Hardwick.

That second part is rarely mentioned when people discuss Hardwick’s coaching, but it is really noteworthy.
 

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aislegi

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I agree with almost everything that’s been posted so far in this thread and don’t wish to take anything away from Damian Hardwick (whose tenure has exceeded all expectations) but I have to take issue with this “one of the worst teams since Fitzroy” refrain. Not only did Hardwick have a handful of out-and-out stars or future stars on the list when took over, but, in his first three seasons, we didn’t win a single wooden spoon. In fact, from 2010 to 2012, no fewer than eight separate teams finished below Richmond on the ladder.
 

Maybenextyear

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A truly great coach is one that starts with a basket case and dramatically improves the side. Not only did he take us to finals but 2 flags And the best side in the comp . Look at the lists Chris Scott and Bucks were gifted and they still managed to screw it up .I honestly thought I would never see a flag again in my lifetime . Dimma I salute you.
 

Tiger_Of_Old

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I agree with almost everything that’s been posted so far in this thread and don’t wish to take anything away from Damian Hardwick (whose tenure has exceeded all expectations) but I have to take issue with this “one of the worst teams since Fitzroy” refrain. Not only did Hardwick have a handful of out-and-out stars or future stars on the list when took over, but, in his first three seasons, we didn’t win a single wooden spoon. In fact, from 2010 to 2012, no fewer than eight separate teams finished below Richmond on the ladder.
What makes it even more outstanding is we went through a rebuild in the middle of the plastic handouts and still made finals from 13 onwards(except 16).
 

JAKLAUGHING

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Have to hand it to him, was prepared to change after the 2016 review. That’s no mean feat.

He also admits that he was too young to be appointed a senior coach. All the skills and IP he has now I’d fully expect him to be coaching another 10 years.

Knows how to rebuild a list and get a team humming. If we knock over this flag he’s going to be in high demand. Will go down as one of the great Richmond senior coaches.
Our own version of Kevin sheedy...
 

Ceehook

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how about we compare and contrast against widely accepted great coaches

our own Tommy Hafey and legend Ron Barassi

Tommy was often criticised for not being a good tactician
he did seem slow to move players that were getting beaten
he didn't pull too many moves out of left field
but something that followed him was player loyalty
He showed faith in his players and they "played" for Tommy

No one would ever question Ron's passion, he demanded high standards
he was an innovator and in his last gig at the Swans he did seem to change to meet the times and the weak list he had
players were scared of a spray from Barassi , I would say he had the respect of the playing group but not the love


Tommy also left a legacy of budding coaches , he seemed to insire guys to think about footy skills , game plans , tactics etc and to handle the mentoring and guiding young men side of things


2010 along comes Hardwick to AFL coaching with a side in full rebuild mode
the game has changed alot since the Hafey & Barassi days
and society has changed a lot

for starters the coaches get a lot more help with assistant and specialist coaches , stats guys , football dept. etc
So the head coach now heads up a team
if he gets 3 different ideas thrown at him he has to decide which ones to run with and how to implement
Blake might have been the ideas man for structure and game plan
but DH has recognised something good and run with it and the history see's two premierships in the bag

and like Tommy , players seem to play for Dimma
and the structures within todays game might stiffle mid game innovation which was more the style of Barassi

regardless of where 2020 ends
Dimma will be referred to as one of the AFL's great coaches
 

Jack5

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Sep 15, 2017
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I spent ten years out of the country and returned to having a presence in Australia around the time Hardwick was appointed. When I was living out of the country I maybe got to watch 2-3 of our games per year if I was really lucky. Mostly I noticed we weren’t much worth watching. By the time Hardwick was appointed I was watching most games because I had started betting on AFL with a bit of intent.

What struck me even in his first half season when we didn’t win a game and you could see there were massive puzzle pieces missing in the playing personnel, was you could see the players playing to a system. Despite all the losses, some of them by huge margins, I found this enjoyable to watch compared to games I had seen in the preceding 10 years. I recall saying to my betting partner that this team appears to be in good hands and when they start winning they should keep winning.

Then through all the years now seen as a bit frustrating 2011-2016, I could still see that when the proper structure of the team was on field, this system was evident in our play. We might not have had the best system going around, but all the players had bought in and consequently we were winning a lot of games. Through the difficulties of 2016 all the reports were the players loved Hardwick and he still had them buying in. Those reports were enough for me to want him retained because I know from experience this is one of the great challenges of coaching, to get all the team members on the same page as each other, the same page you are on.

Hardwick is really good at that.

I love the way he coaches. He doesn’t get funky. Doesn’t try to trick the opposition or outsmart anyone. He just tries to build a fighting force that can break opponents down with a consistent style of play. He is a really good solid decision maker and I will take that over a clever Dick coach any day. Hardwick keeps his eye on what matters most all the time, and does not try to win games with his coaching. The media hate it because they fawn over the “genius” coaches Clarkson, Scott, who get clever at times. The Longmires and Hardwicks are not seen as so tactical, but you try breaking down one of their teams when it matters, it is really difficult.

What a coach Hardwick has been. In many ways he is like Hafey was. He doesn’t try to look or sound clever. He just sets a good game plan and gets the players to buy into it completely. Like Hafey, the players absolutely love Hardwick, they know he does not have hidden agendas, and that he cares about them and values them.

Richmond have had some great coaches over time, even if you leave aside the guys who were great elsewhere but not so great at Richmond, probably through no fault of their own, like Jeans, Walls.

Dan Minogue, Checker Hughes, Percy Bentley, Jack Dyer, Len Smith(for a short but important period,) and Hafey of course. There are others who might have done well had they been given better opportunities, Jack Titus springs to mind. But Hardwick stands proudly upon that list, and well done to him. Even without such a tremendous finals record he would have been a terrific coach, but the club’s record in must win games and finals under Hardwick is phenomenal, so this lifts him into a completely different spectrum in the hierarchy of AFL coaches throughout history. He wins games. Consider:

2010 - 6 wins including 2 v finals teams was a huge achievement given what he had to work with.

2011 - 8.5 wins including a draw against what had been a very strong St Kilda team was a good step forward.

2012 - Still only 10 of his later premiership players in place and a 10-1-11 record with 111% and a few tight losses in there, but wins against both Grand Finalists, we were starting to win big games.

2013 - 15-7 record and missed the top four by one win, starting to get some really big wins.

2014 - Coruscating run to make finals by winning 9 consecutive elimination matches once some key players returned from injuries. 12-10 overall record.

2015 - Again 15 wins and missed top 4 by a game.

2016 - Horrible year with 8 wins and a lot of things going wrong, but the last 5 games we couldn’t make finals there, and were playing for draft picks.

2017 - Unstoppable in the finals campaign after losing 3 consecutive games by under a kick rounds 7-9 had thrown our claims to a double chance into difficulty.

2018 - Clearly the strongest team throughout the regular season with an 18-4 record. Recorded our only finals loss in a strong 3 year finals run of 7-1.

2019 - Overcame major injury problems to win the last 12 games, and in so doing, first secured a top four berth, and then the flag.

2020 - Again have required a very strong late season run to get into the top four with a game remaining.

There are two outstanding things about what the Hardwick coached Tigers have achieved for me:

1. volume of wins has increased such that for the last 8 seasons, the median expectation is to win more than 2 of 3 matches played in a given season. That is really strong and a massive achievement in itself.

2. tougher to define this, but if you give Hardwick three years lead in before making finals and go from 2013 onwards, the record in games that need to be won so as to make the final 8, 4 or progress in finals looks astonishingly good. We have lost 4 finals to be eliminated but won 7 to either progress or avoid elimination. 9 straight wins to secure a top 4 berth has happened once. 9 straight wins to secure a finals spot has happened once. So that is 18-0 in critical home and away games in 2014 and 2019 combined. If you consider critical games that were won and lost in other seasons to make and miss finals, or top 4 or top 2 berths, I wouldn’t be surprised if our must win big game record is somewhere near 35-10 or so since and including 2013 under Hardwick.

That second part is rarely mentioned when people discuss Hardwick’s coaching, but it is really noteworthy.
Great post. Dimma has built a gameplan that is designed for high pressure games when players are more likely to succumb to this pressure in their execution of skills - both ours and the opposition. Its just that ours relies less on great execution but more on the intensity and effort that he is able to get out of the players through his great man management skills. Probably means we lose a few home and away games to oppo that execute really well in the low pressure h&a environment but when finals come around - thats when the whole system shines. Always vulnerable to the odd team that plays out of skins on the given day but we'll win more than our fair share.

It takes nothing away from him to say he is well supported by strong tacticians and very good recruiting and development but it's his genious level game strategy and man management that are his hallmarks in my view.
 

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Marcel Proust

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Not the best coach tactically, but by far the best at building belief in the playing group.
I was so happy when the zone / press finally started to look half decent

No more 10 , 20, 30 goals concession from turn overs

We still get done over the back sometimes but the players and system are pretty good. Stats and eyes.

Furthermore the list looks really nice, especially post Ellis and Grigg.

I was wrong. A lot. Good work on not sacking dimma. I didn't think the daddy approach would work but here we are.

Forza Damien
 

Roachy8

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What's changed is that Richmond no longer changes its style to beat a team. Teams change their style to try and beat Richmond with a few exceptions. This is the difference now. Dimma doesnt have to do radical things now, and can now focus on coaching. better spot.
This is a very very astute post sir - well done!
 

aislegi

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What makes it even more outstanding is we went through a rebuild in the middle of the plastic handouts and still made finals from 13 onwards(except 16).
I remember being worried that too much talent was going to the new clubs but then we just turned around and poached Prestia, Caddy, and Lynch :D
 

Phar Ace

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Hardwick keeps his eye on what matters most all the time, and does not try to win games with his coaching.

The media hate it because they fawn over the “genius” coaches Clarkson, Scott, who get clever at times. The Longmires and Hardwicks are not seen as so tactical, but you try breaking down one of their teams when it matters, it is really difficult.
ENJOY FOOTY AGAIN!!!!

Another quality post MR, but I want to highlight above one very astute observation you made, in my view.

Dimma had learnt at the end of 2016 he needed to be more like an Orchestra Conductor than a tactician. He couldn't be like Alistar Clarkson after all. He was the first to put up his hand at the end of 2016 and say "I am part of the problem", but he also demonstrated to the Board how he was going to be part of the solution - if they would back him in. Brendan and Peggy are no fools. Particularly Peggy. She has had any number of snake oil salesman pitch to her over her career. I think she quickly recognises authenticity. Brendan and Damien have that is barrel loads.

To all the people saying they were wrong about calling for Dimma to be gone at the end of 2016 - cut yourselves some slack! The writing was on the wall in such big letters and neon lights. That is what separates quality CEO's, Chairmen and women, and Presidents. They back in authentic plans. They don't listen to the white noise, they assess people and facts.

Underestimate the role Trent Cotchin played in Hardwick's success at your peril!

The joy of being in the moment was something the two discussed over and over. Dimma's hand went up early and said he had sucked the joy out of playing footy for the players - that he had over-coached. It's almost an oxy-moron. This comment about the joy of playing footy too came from the close and constructive conversations between Dimma and Cotch. This was a big part of Dimma's renaissance. He had another year on his contract, if I recall correctly, and had little to lose to follow his and Cotch's heart. Enjoy footy again! Cotch could say - hand on heart - the boys will follow you Dimma.

It's become a way of life at Richmond. Once they set a clear course in this regard, they integrated buy-in among all their employees and other stakeholders. They appear to have developed an astute understanding of their stakeholders’ needs and motivations, and then got people on board by driving for joy and performance, aligning ALL THAT around the goal of value creation. The stunning thing is how authentic it has been.

Damien Hardwick has been incredibly lucky! The best listener's are! So are the best givers. Hardwick's relentless game themes are a testimony to this. He listen's, he gives, he engages, he finds ways to make footy matter more. Hardwick doesn't have to be the best tactician, he just has to be the best man for the job. He has people do all that tactical stuff week to week - he does all he does for his people.
 
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Bojangles17

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Not the best coach tactically, but by far the best at building belief in the playing group.
Not the best coach tactically , that’s funny I thought we play the most unique and successful game style of the 18 clubs , if it was that easy why doesn’t everyone do it , what a wacko comment
He’s a coaching genius ,I’ll be happy when he extends for a few more , with the diminished off field cap it kinda stops clubs lobbing multi million coaching deals out there as there’d be nothing else for assistants
Well done dimma , good luck in this years camPaign and beyond
 

tora tora tora

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Not the best coach tactically , that’s funny I thought we play the most unique and successful game style of the 18 clubs , if it was that easy why doesn’t everyone do it , what a wacko comment
He’s a coaching genius ,I’ll be happy when he extends for a few more , with the diminished off field cap it kinda stops clubs lobbing multi million coaching deals out there as there’d be nothing else for assistants
Well done dimma , good luck in this years camPaign and beyond
I have little understanding of the deeper elements to game plans, but if you are playing a Grigg-type in the ruck and can win games then there's tactics. Don't even know if its unique, Dogs were tinkering with their rucks in 2016. Losing an obvious part of the game to benefit your team elsewhere. Flooding we can all see but Richmond liked to have numbers behind the ball. I think the Cats used to do that too. Have one less around the contest and have the ball kicked to them in their backline. And I maintain the Cats used to this fwd handball too, or at least manic ball movement up the corridor.
Free kicks against are strategic. I don't think it's a coincidence ours are what they are for some benefit. Not having our KPFs on the lead as much as bombing it in. Then locking the play into our fwd line. Making small players important.
Every second of every game is uber strategy. Kudos to Dimma for keeping ahead of the competition for 4 years. With so much stats out there we attempt to make sense of it. I can't. I'm just happy Peggy and Gale got good people around him Balme and Blake in particular. Leppa too. Good times so far but half way to Hafeys tally. C'mon dimma. 3 more flags.
 
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O_Grinners17

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If you watched 2010-2016 and 2017-2020 without knowing who our coach was, you'd think we had sacked Dimma at the end of 2016, when in fact, he looked within himself and realised he needed to change. That within itself shows the measure of a person and a coach. He revolutionized everything about our club and made us far and away the best team in the competition.
 

RunningBounce

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If you watched 2010-2016 and 2017-2020 without knowing who our coach was, you'd think we had sacked Dimma at the end of 2016, when in fact, he looked within himself and realised he needed to change. That within itself shows the measure of a person and a coach. He revolutionized everything about our club and made us far and away the best team in the competition.
Been wondering about this recently. There are some elements of the Hardwick style that have been very persistent.

He was bloody determined to get three talls in forward line in the early seasons. Had to roll with Jack and the 7 dwarves, and the single ruck, in 2017. And here we are, with the preferred set-up of Lynch, Riewoldt, Astbury, Balta, Grimes, and two of Nank, Soldo and Chol. His always loved to play talls, even though his famous for playing small.

His always been red hot on the honest pressure forward. Aarts really reminds me of Jake King.

I need to go back and watch some more 2013/14/15 games to form a proper opinion. I seem to remember our ball movement being much more stagnant in those days, but its a long time ago. And I was probably 6 beers in before I started watching every game.
 

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