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Blue the looking glass


PATIENT Ronny Richmond has seen his club rebuilt more often than the Parthenon, but the design is always flawed. Instead of a restored monument, what is promised always ends in ruins.

So Ronny, a 44-year-old bloke from Rowville, is entitled to be cynical about Richmond Rebuild Mark 10. He's heard the words ''youth policy'' and ''will take time'' with the same vomit-inducing frequency that Wayne Swan uses the phrase ''working families''.

Yet, this latest Punt Rd Project does feel different. Encouragingly, the club has managed to persuade the ''Ronnies'' that Damien Hardwick is, if not the messiah, then a skilled tradesman who deserves the five years that Terry Wallace and Danny Frawley had in which to make something from the rubble.

Ronny isn't too worried about the 1-4 start. The AFL sadists handed the Tigers a terrible early schedule and, with a pinch of better fortune and more steel from Jack Riewoldt, they'd be 2-3 or even 3-2.

Ronny doesn't like Carlton. As a child in the '70s, his view of Robert Walls was similar to Kevin Sheedy's and he cannot fathom how the Tigers hired a Carlton schoolteacher as coach when John ''Swooper'' Northey left. Hardwick's OK. He was coached by Sheeds, was tough and played in the back pocket.

Yet, much as it would pain Ronny and his ilk, the Blues are the club that Richmond should aspire to emulate. Carlton is a living example of how to turn a pile of rubble into a powerful club again. Richmond's attempted restoration is mirroring Carlton's on multiple levels. The extent of the parallels is obscured by the time lag - the Tigers of 2012 are in roughly the same position of Carlton circa 2008, when Chris Judd and Matthew Kreuzer arrived and Brett Ratten began his first full season as senior coach.

For Ronny, that his team may become a Carlton copy should represent glad tidings. Yet it is also a sobering reminder of how long it takes to bring a club into premiership contention. The Tigers are one Olympics behind the Blues. Thus, if all goes well and they recruit and develop their players as well as possible and pick off a decent free agent or two, they will be in the mix in 2015-16, a year or two before the expansion teams threaten.

This is the first year in which Carlton has been a genuine premiership chance. Taking the recruitment of Marc Murphy and the since-departed Josh Kennedy with early picks as year zero, it has taken seven years of mostly correct decision-making - trading Brendan Fevola for Lachie Henderson and a pick, drafting Chris Yarran, bringing Jeremy Laidler and Nick Duigan on board, surrounding Ratten with the right lieutenants - to bring the Blues to the point where a premiership is eminently possible.

Like Carlton, Richmond is building from the midfield first, using early picks on prized on-ballers, and then seeking to cobble together a defence. As with the Blues of 2008, they have scant senior players and thus the path to contention should be incremental yet inexorable. The Tigers have even fewer decent senior players than the Blues then and are weaker in the ruck. On the plus side, target forwards Riewoldt and Tyrone Vickery are superior, at weight-for-age, to Jarrad Waite and Shaun Hampson.

What has been most impressive about Carlton is the fact it has improved every single year since 2007.

Richmond's Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin are their club's answer to Murphy and Bryce Gibbs - the prized early picks and elite talents that provided the first real impetus. As a midfield duo, Cotchin and Martin have the capacity to be the equal of Murphy and Chris Judd or Scott Pendlebury-Dane Swan. They and Brett Deledio give the Tigers a match-turning turbo charge that most mid-range teams - North, Adelaide, arguably even Essendon - don't own. The Tigers are below those sides because a) they aren't as defensively adept and b) their senior players aren't as numerous or good.

Deledio isn't in Judd's company, but he is about the same age the champ was four years ago, when the Blues first demonstrated that they were coming. Deledio has been marked hard to date - consider how he would have fared at, say, Geelong. Hardwick's decision to hand him more midfield duties has enabled him to develop a harder edge and take responsibility.

Carlton didn't become a significant threat until its defence improved.

The same formula applies to the Tigers, who were hopeless in defending - in the back half and everywhere else - last year, but have fared better in restricting the opposition so far in 2012.

The addition of ex-Hawthorn assistant Ross Smith to teach team defence helps, but the Tigers won't ascend like Carlton until they find or develop their Michael Jamison. They need an anchor of the back line who can subdue 108-kilogram gorillas. The promising Dylan Grimes is still slight in body. Alex Rance is vastly improved and braver than Braveheart, but he might be a number two - Bert Newton, rather than Graham Kennedy.

The best measure of Richmond's progress this year is its percentage of 94. It's a number that, should it be maintained until round 22, ought to give the Tigers 10 or so victories and a spot just outside the eight. In 2008, the Blues won 10 games and had a percentage of 94. They finished 10th.

The Tigers have only laid foundations. Rightly, no one will believe they're truly restored and respectable until it happens. And after 30 years of frustration, Ronny might as well endure another three or four.

1 comment

  • one big difference is Richmond has't cheated the system like Carlton

    Date and time
    May 06, 2012, 1:41PM
    Comments are now closed

    HuffPost Australia

    AFL 2016

    Round 1
    Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
    RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
    Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
    MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
    GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
    NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
    SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
    Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
    WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
    PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
    WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
    Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
    GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
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    Round 2
    Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
    COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
    Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
    ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
    ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
    BRI vs NTH 16:35G
    STK vs WBU 19:25ES
    FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
    HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
    CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
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    Round 3
    Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK vs COL 13:45MCG
    RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
    SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
    GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
    WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
    WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
    GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
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    Round 4
    Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
    WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
    Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
    HAW vs STK 14:10AS
    BRI vs GCF 16:35G
    CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
    ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
    COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
    NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
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    Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
    Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
    GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
    WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
    PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK vs GWS 13:10ES
    FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
    MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
    Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
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    Round 6
    Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
    Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs STK 13:45ES
    ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
    GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
    RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
    GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
    Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    BRI vs SYD 13:10G
    CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
    WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 7
    Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
    Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
    COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
    GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
    SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
    GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
    WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
    FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
    Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    STK vs NTH 15:20ES
    PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
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    Round 8
    Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
    HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
    GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
    BRI vs COL 19:25G
    RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
    Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
    MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
    WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 9
    Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
    Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
    COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
    GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
    PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
    NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
    FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
    GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
    STK vs ESS 16:40ES
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    Round 10
    Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
    Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
    BRI vs HAW 13:45G
    MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
    STK vs FRE 16:35ES
    ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
    ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
    COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
    WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 11
    Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
    Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
    CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
    GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
    GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
    FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
    WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
    ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
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    Round 12
    Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
    Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
    BRI vs FRE 16:35G
    GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
    WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    STK vs CAR 13:10ES
    RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
    GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
    Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
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    Round 13
    Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
    Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
    BRI vs WCE 13:40G
    FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
    WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
    Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
    ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
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    Round 14
    Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
    COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
    Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
    GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
    STK vs GEE 19:25ES
    Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
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    Round 15
    Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
    WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
    Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
    GCF vs STK 13:40MS
    SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
    CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
    Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
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    Round 16
    Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
    Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
    GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
    WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
    MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
    Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
    WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
    ESS vs STK 16:40ES
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    Round 17
    Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
    Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
    FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
    Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
    NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
    WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
    ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
    STK vs MEL 15:20ES
    BRI vs GWS 16:40G
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    Round 18
    Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
    COL vs NTH 19:50ES
    Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
    GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
    WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
    WBU vs STK 19:25ES
    GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
    Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
    HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
    PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
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    Round 19
    Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
    Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
    HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
    COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
    BRI vs PTA 19:25G
    NTH vs STK 19:25ES
    Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
    FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
    ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
    View All Fixtures
    Round 20
    Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
    Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
    MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
    GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
    WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
    ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
    GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
    FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 21
    Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
    WBU vs COL 19:50ES
    Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
    BRI vs CAR 13:45G
    HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
    GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
    STK vs SYD 19:25ES
    PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
    RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
    FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 22
    Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
    WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
    Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
    RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
    GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
    COL vs GCF 19:25ES
    PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
    BRI vs GEE 15:20G
    ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 23
    Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
    STK vs BRI 12:00ES
    ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
    GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
    SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
    NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
    GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
    ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
    FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    AFL 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D % Pts
    Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
    Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
    Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
    Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
    Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
    Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
    Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
    Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
    View all

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