You know how it ends, here’s how it started: How Damien Hardwick spoke some prophetic words in an interview moments before coaching the Tigers for the very first time
- In 2010, Andy Maher asked the coach about the future
- In 2023, Hardwick reflected on the past
- Coach stunned football world by leaving
The moving farewell speech delivered by outgoing Richmond icon Damien Hardwick on Tuesday ended the prophetic promise he made in an interview given minutes before his debut as manager of the club.
On this day in 2010, Andy Maher of The Front Bar fame interviewed Hardwick as he nonchalantly walked to his seat in the Tigers box at the MCG.
‘It finally happened, how do you feel?’ Maher asked.
“I’m a little nervous and a little excited. It’s hard to tell the difference between them,” Hardwick replied.
‘But, look, I can’t wait. It’s a huge opportunity for our guys to create a new era for Richmond.
A youngster Damien Hardwick predicted Richmond’s future when interviewed moments before Andy Maher kicked off in 2010 – his first-ever gig as Tigers coach
That very first afternoon, after inheriting a team that was at the lowest point of its long life, Hardwick lost.
Richmond hadn’t been a contender for most of the previous 30 years, so it was a result fans were used to – but that didn’t stop ‘Dimma’ continuing this bright new era for the club.
Eight more games into his first season at the helm, the Tigers had failed to win a single game and were nastily labeled ‘the worst team since Fitzroy’ in reference to the dismal Lions team that went 1-21 in of their last season in the competition. in 1996.
The wins did come eventually, but it wasn’t until 2013 that Hardwick’s men made their first preliminary final.
They lost, but hope was on the horizon.
In the following two seasons, they played the same preliminary final and achieved the same result, before an injury-ridden year in 2016, when the team finished in 13th place.
Some in Punt Road wanted him kicked.
In his farewell speech today, he referred to this year.
“It’s a tough job coaching the AFL, but Richmond Football Club has been by far the love of my life,” he said.
“They gave me an opportunity, the best resources possible, and I can’t thank you enough in 2016 when you could have easily tipped me at any time.”
“The journey we responded to afterwards is a testament to what we have created.”
In 2023, at his farewell press conference, Damien Hardwick (pictured) was emotional but his words from 2010 had come true
Hardwick’s revival began the afternoon the Richmond board kept him on after that disastrous campaign.
In 2017, the Tigerland faithful cheered at the end of the 37-year drought at the premiership when Richmond upset Adelaide by 48 points.
More flags followed in 2019 and 2020 with Hardwick’s distinctive method of football being played at supersonic speed all over the park, heavily influencing other teams.
And that, right there, was the legacy that he talked about on Tuesday.
In 2010, Hardwick could only imagine and fight for the new era of the Tigers.
On Tuesday, in his final interview as coach, he smiled, grew emotional, even choked back tears after delivering on the promise he made 14 years earlier.