Hardwick gets an AFL flag back on Clarkson

Oct 1, 2017 - 7:59 AM Visiting his good friend Alastair Clarkson used to mean one stab of envy for Damien Hardwick.

"I've always had that jealousy that every time I walk down his hallway there's those four bloody premiership medallions sitting there," the Richmond coach said of his Hawthorn counterpart.

Not any more.

Twelve months after the Richmond hierarchy was forced to ponder whether Hardwick should stay coach, he has engineered the end of their 37-year AFL premiership drought.

Clarkson added a humorous moment to the post-game celebrations when he gatecrashed Hardwick's media conference.

The door to the room burst open and a familiar voice shouted "could you hurry up, lad?"

Hardwick looked over, laughed and yelled back: "I've only got three (premierships) to go, mate." as he held up the medal hanging around his neck.

The two coaches and their wives had dinner on Friday night and Hardwick said the two families were incredibly close.

He explained that Clarkson tried to hurry up the media conference because the Hawks coach was taking the Hardwick children home.

They first worked together at Port Adelaide and Hardwick was an assistant when Clarkson coached Hawthorn to the 2008 premiership.

"I've got one back on him, but he's been a great friend of mine, a great mentor and I owe a lot of what I am today to him taking me under his wing," Hardwick said.

"He's a fantastic man and to have him there at the end for the celebrations was testament to him.

"He's walked into an opposition club rooms, he's got his arms around the players and me, I just love him."

But among the celebrations and the good times, Hardwick was quick to caution that nothing is guaranteed.

He pointed to the Western Bulldogs, who failed to make the top eight this season after their own drought-breaking premiership.

The Tigers also were not the most talented side in the AFL - Adelaide boast a stronger best 22 - but the Crows were no match for Richmond's manic pressure in the grand final.

And Richmond's VFL team finished runners-up, a testament to the depth on their list.

"There's no guarantee we'll even make it back to the finals; you've got to work incredibly hard," he said.

"But what I am really pleased with is I look at our VFL side that finished second this year and they've got some terrific players that are going to pushing our guys hard.

"Competition for spots is really going to be evident next year."

Captain Trent Cotchin said now the drought is over, they must aim to keep improving.

"It's a greed, but it's not an arrogant greed. It's just a willingness to get better. That's a big part of our culture," he said.

The celebrations will continue at Monday night's club awards function, where Brownlow Medal winner Dustin Martin is set to win his second Jack Dyer medal as their best and fairest player.

Source: AAP

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