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Hardwick

Tenacious

Tiger Champion
May 19, 2008
4,376
1,605

Hardwick has tarnished his leadership at Tigerland​

Caroline Wilson

Caroline Wilson

Football columnist for The Age
January 29, 2021 — 11.30am

Damien Hardwick’s decision to leave his wife Danielle and embark on a serious relationship with a younger and more junior colleague at Richmond has tarnished his leadership and risks tarnishing his legacy.
This might sound harsh when you consider Hardwick’s three premierships, his unique coaching ability and the role he has played in reinventing a fallen football club. But his actions alone have placed his board, his executive and even his captain in dreadfully difficult positions.
Already divisions have emerged at Tigerland as club leaders work publicly to downplay the Hardwicks’ marriage break-up as simply another sad tale of our times.
Richmond insist it never considered sacking Damien Hardwick.

Richmond insist it never considered sacking Damien Hardwick.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES
It is true that marriages fall apart frequently and the reasons given can be complicated and murky. But Hardwick, who said when he returned to work in January that he expected club management would support him, has forced that management to make uncomfortable compromises.

Most importantly the lines have been blurred where accepted workplace practices are concerned. Again the club line has been found wanting. Alexandra Crow might be an impressive marketing official in charge of elite club supporter groups but the power imbalance between her and Hardwick is stark.
Neither he nor Crow reported the relationship, which was only revealed when the rumours became so rife that CEO Brendon Gale asked the question of the coach.
President Peggy O’Neal and chief executive Gale have rightly pointed for some years to Richmond’s strong organisational culture and core values. Gale has often said he has been as proud of the manner in which players have carried themselves as of how they have played. That they now give the Hardwick-Crow scenario a tick because they work in different departments is frankly laughable given the coach’s influence across the entire club.
It is telling that the Tigers cannot guarantee Crow will remain at the club although they insist that choice will be hers alone. If it came to it, good luck selling the story of a woman yet again sacrificing her job ahead of a man.
But then the Hardwick controversy highlights the recurring hypocrisy across big organisations and specifically in this case football clubs when it comes to political correctness. You can’t help but wonder whether the coach might have been in more trouble if his name was Simon Goodwin or Leon Cameron. Or an assistant coach.

And there is no doubt sacking Hardwick would have proved a lot tougher than the alternative. Not only would that have created a costly legal thicket for the club but removing a premiership coach in his prime because he fell in love with a colleague would not wash with members, supporters and some sponsors eyeing off a three-peat.
Richmond insist it never considered sacking him, a decision backed by the six club CEOs contacted who say they would have done the same. Still the Hardwick story provoked a serious conversation several weeks ago between AFL boss Gillon McLachlan and Gale. McLachlan reluctantly forced two married league executives - one whom he counts among his closest friends - to resign back in 2017 due to workplace affairs.
And yet head office, perhaps uncomfortable regarding its own more recent history, will not take any form of position on Richmond’s issues, saying it is for the club to handle. Disappointingly, when comparing itself to the AFL, another Richmond line is that the AFL is the game’s regulator and therefore justified in the tougher stand it took.
This too seems flimsy when you consider the role of the senior coach as teacher, mentor and guide to so many impressionable young men. Particularly one who publicly adopted his wife as his moral compass and created “Mrs Hardwick” as a major part of his brand as well as her private role as a key part of the Tigers family.
Stronger feminists than this columnist were never comfortable with “Mrs Hardwick” never having a true voice or even her own name. No one asked Hardwick, never comfortable with the media, to evoke Danielle regularly in his media conferences and make her such a big part of the story - crediting her with such a major role in turning his career around, even joking about their sex life.

Even so, I loved it when, on the 2017 premiership dais, the winning coach became the first in the game’s history to thank his wife straight after the game.
Konrad Marshall’s chronicle of the journey to the 2019 flag speaks of how the coach held up a large rock inscribed with Danielle and family, revealing them as his key motivation. As recently as last June, after one of his many 2020 public missteps, it was “Mrs Hardwick” who told the coach he had behaved like a goose in criticising John Longmire’s tactics. You have to wonder how many people within the club - including players - felt duped when the truth came out.
Affairs of the heart like so many private issues are difficult to write about in the context of a large sporting organisation but no one can deny this situation has not rocked the Tigers and therefore is fair game. It is intriguing that the club has still not put Trent Cotchin in front of the media after wife Brooke’s pointed social media commentary over Christmas.

RELATED ARTICLE​

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick and ceo Brendon Gale

Richmond

Tigers had to straighten up 'irritated' Hardwick to avoid derailment

Jack Riewoldt’s “business as usual″⁣ claim belied the difficult conversations Hardwick has undertaken with his players and his shrinking group of coaches. And you can’t help but wonder whether the fall-out from marital breakdown and workplace affair will impact on the coach’s relationship with his players when connectivity has been such a major player at Punt Road.

Hardwick has revealed his vulnerabilities before but surely now he has relinquished the high moral ground upon which he once lived with his wife and family. It is difficult to predict how his authority will endure, particularly when demanding transparency from his players and coaches.
But then so much off-field went wrong for Richmond in 2020 and look how that turned out. Hardwick’s rapsheet alone saw several instances of bad sportsmanship, blaming the MCG ground staff for a poor team performance, an initial refusal to guide his team in adapting to COVID, cruelly belittling David Schwarz and bizarrely almost missing lining up with his team for the national anthem in the Tigers’ first final.
Perhaps his personal turmoil contributed to his sometimes strange behaviour, which culminated in one of the great grand final coaching performances. Perhaps the club and what it has achieved under Gale and O’Neal can prove itself bigger than the coach and his issues.
For those of us who have celebrated the fairytale at Tigerland, the good memories will endure but the story has changed. And as much as those major characters who played their part in the resurgence wish he hadn’t, it is the coach who has rewritten it.

Caro is usually a good read and so is this Article
But frankly I don’t care about all the nuances of the issue and it’s none of my business anyway
Shite happens in the lives of lots of people and it’s sad for the Hardwick family as a whole and I hope it works out for each of them in the long run
Meanwhile I’ve got a team - with coaches and players and employees - to follow and I hope they all have a great season and that Caro can write about more Tiger success

As for the Peter Ryan article - ho hum
BTW - I never had much sympathy for David Swartz and reckon he deserved the clip he got
 
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Spirit of Jack

Only a Tiger premiership can make 2020 a good year
Apr 19, 2004
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Some of Caro's finest work - she's says absolutely nothing, a month too late, in a 1000 words.
 
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TigerFlag2017

Tiger Legend
May 16, 2007
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It’s surprising she’s waited til now to print this. Perhaps she thought he got off too lightly, and wants to stir up another round of recriminations? While I agree with her view of the matter, doing that can only unsettle the players at an important time.
Probably on holidays
 
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tigerman

It's Tiger Time
Mar 17, 2003
14,760
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Missed that - can you tell me what was the Ox piece was please?
Last year when it was open season on Lynch, Ox joined the bandwagon, so Dimma defended Lynchy. He well and truly put Ox back in his box, saying that he played in a Grand Final against Ox and that within 20 minutes Ox was crying.
 
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eZyT

Tiger Legend
Jun 28, 2019
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A dreadful piece by Caro on several levels.

1. very old news that been laid on the table by the proponents, and publicly dealt with.
2. passing judgement on other peoples relationships is foolish and fraught.
3. tarnished his legacy and leadership? FFS.

its a poorly constructed moral opinion piece that reads like she drank too many mojitos over summer, and had nothing whatsoever to write about when she came back
 
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CarnTheTiges

This is a REAL tiger
Mar 8, 2004
20,419
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A dreadful piece by Caro on several levels.

1. very old news that been laid on the table by the proponents, and publicly dealt with.
2. passing judgement on other peoples relationships is foolish and fraught.
3. tarnished his legacy and leadership? FFS.

its a poorly constructed moral opinion piece that reads like she drank too many mojitos over summer, and had nothing whatsoever to write about when she came back
I think you’re on the money on all your points, ezy. And yet again Caro proves that she is incapable of writing about the actual game, as opposed to the circus that goes on off field.
 
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eZyT

Tiger Legend
Jun 28, 2019
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I think you’re on the money on all your points, ezy. And yet again Caro proves that she is incapable of writing about the actual game, as opposed to the circus that goes on off field.

I generally like Caro. I just reckon this article is a piece of crap.

if dimma beat up his wife? was rooting richmond AFLW (or AFL) players? yeah pass judgement.

middle-aged man trades in for something with lower kilometres is not revelatory.

How is anybody to know Dimma hadn't had a root for a decade? Or that Mrs H didn't deliver him an ultimatum 'Its me or the club' and he chose the club?

Ive got a mate whose ex-wife I loved. awesome, easy, couple. I was shocked when they broke up, we had the obligatory 20 beers, and my mate told me he hadn't had a root for 3 years!

I believe only fools judge other people relationships
 
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King Kong

Tiger Champion
Aug 26, 2016
2,707
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Crows Feet up to her ole antics again. Sure its not ideal for this to happen but to suggest this is a special case is a joke. This happens in most workplaces in the country every year. No doubt happened at the The Age multiple times when she was there! Hypocritical of her not to be prepared to report that.

Its happened in every workplace I've ever worked in - married men and women shag work colleagues every day. Some of these hook-ups end of their own accord, others end in divorce.
 
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Number8

Tiger Matchwinner
Oct 12, 2010
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I'm in the camp that it's better to reflect over time on a moral position than to proffer a knee-jerk opinion.

In that sense, I don't have a problem with Caro being late to the party.

I think it's a well thought-out piece but, ultimately, I reckon she's got it wrong on a few levels.

For starters, it's disappointing for her to declare her feminist credentials yet almost completely relegate Ms Crow to a powerless onlooker. The implication is that Hardwick used his senior position to his advantage. We can't know this is true and I hate the implied disempowerment of the lady in question. Referring to Ms Crow as 'a younger and more junior colleague' is a one-dimensional characterisation that, on the face of it, denigrates Ms Crow as much as it was designed to diminish Hardwick. Caro does this while decrying the idea that “Mrs Hardwick” never had 'a true voice or even her own name'. Ms Crow is a successful, accomplished woman in her 30s. She's been written about as though she's simply a pawn. I think that's sad and, really, quite awful.

Secondly, there is this declaration: 'Affairs of the heart like so many private issues are difficult to write about in the context of a large sporting organisation but no one can deny this situation has not rocked the Tigers and therefore is fair game.'

That is simply disingenuous. You can't, on the one hand, acknowledge a 'private issue' then, on the other hand, say that, for some ill-defined reason, it's suddenly OK to treat the matter like it's gossip-column fodder. Either it's private or it isn't. There is no half-way house on that. It reeks of Caro choosing to wade in when there was enough information in the public arena to justify an intrusion on the private nature of the relationship.

That's a pretty yucky place to find oneself and I suspect, on reflection, Caro may not feel this is her finest work.
 
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BillyJean17

Tiger Champion
Jul 27, 2009
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I'm in the camp that it's better to reflect over time on a moral position than to proffer a knee-jerk opinion.

In that sense, I don't have a problem with Caro being late to the party.

I think it's a well thought-out piece but, ultimately, I reckon she's got it wrong on a few levels.

For starters, it's disappointing for her to declare her feminist credentials yet almost completely relegate Ms Crow to a powerless onlooker. The implication is that Hardwick used his senior position to his advantage. We can't know this is true and I hate the implied disempowerment of the lady in question. Referring to Ms Crow as 'a younger and more junior colleague' is a one-dimensional characterisation that, on the face of it, denigrates Ms Crow as much as it was designed to diminish Hardwick. Caro does this while decrying the idea that “Mrs Hardwick” never had 'a true voice or even her own name'. Ms Crow is a successful, accomplished woman in her 30s. She's been written about as though she's simply a pawn. I think that's sad and, really, quite awful.

Secondly, there is this declaration: 'Affairs of the heart like so many private issues are difficult to write about in the context of a large sporting organisation but no one can deny this situation has not rocked the Tigers and therefore is fair game.'

That is simply disingenuous. You can't, on the one hand, acknowledge a 'private issue' then, on the other hand, say that, for some ill-defined reason, it's suddenly OK to treat the matter like it's gossip-column fodder. Either it's private or it isn't. There is no half-way house on that. It reeks of Caro choosing to wade in when there was enough information in the public arena to justify an intrusion on the private nature of the relationship.

That's a pretty yucky place to find oneself and I suspect, on reflection, Caro may not feel this is her finest work.
Well said
 
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Butch67

Tiger Rookie
Mar 31, 2014
236
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I dont know any details or who did what but media like a sensation and will jump on the side that sells a paper. Look at the bartel split, media carrying on like nadia is a darling whilst ripping into Jim, ive heard nadia wasnt an angel on a trip to coachella with her friends.

Theres 2 sides to everything. As far as im concerned if dimma can still do his job well then let him get on with it. Im over the speculation and the other crap. There's bound to be some angst but there's people on high wages here that should be able to put personal feelings aside and just get on with the job.

(As an aside ive been on the wrong side of a spouse having an affair)
 

lamb22

Tiger Legend
Jan 29, 2005
11,114
854
There'd be a few people who share Caro's position. I think its overstated but there might be a bit of finessing needed in some relationships between coach and players. I'd suggest a lot of player partners might have concerns with what happened.

Probably better that Caro rather than a Cornes wrote this article.

In the end its a private matter. Will the messenger being tarnished tarnish the message. Maybe but I tend to think it may keep a potentially satiated tiger a little bit keener and hungrier if its us against the world again. We're pretty good at it.
 
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