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Tiger challengers force Brendon Gale's hand | One Herald
Home / Health / Tiger challengers force Brendon Gale's hand

Tiger challengers force Brendon Gale's hand


The Martin Hiscock-led Richmond board challenge served one clear purpose when it advanced by stealth in the early hours of Monday towards the historically poignant Leo Berry gym. But it was not to provide any clear alternative to the current group of directors apart from placing the spotlight on a group that includes too many less-than-dynamic performers at the board table.


Richmond Football Club board challenged

The current Richmond Football Club board has been challenged by a collection of Tigers supporters calling itself Focus on Football.

What it has done is force Brendon Gale’s hand. Gale was already on the verge of making a series of significant changes to his football department but the “Focus on Football” group has – albeit flimsily – crystallised the crucial nature of the CEO’s next move. And the leadership and backing of his president Peggy O’Neal, which he clearly has.

Gale looked a little drawn when he fronted the media on Monday. These are difficult times for him but, to be brutal, he has left it too long to make his foray into the Tigers’ football department.

Perhaps being a former footballer who played with distinction at the club he felt unwilling as chief executive to interfere earlier, but what he faces now is a coach who has under-performed and a raft of staffers who should have been scrutinised and moved on well before now.

This review and all the unpleasantness that has come with it should have been conducted 12 months ago when Richmond, for the third year running, failed to fire a shot in September despite finishing close to the top four. Then the coach was coming out of contract in 12 months. Now the club has committed to him for a further two years.

Then the captain Trent Cotchin was under some pressure for another dismal final. Now, as the on-field leadership has eroded, the role of captain must surely be looked at. Ditto development and recruiting and leadership in totality.

This is not to downgrade the role of Daniel Richardson, but he came to the club as a newcomer to the role and it was his first role at a club. He will remain but it appears there will be some new personnel around him.

Martin Hiscock addresses Monday's news conference.
Martin Hiscock addresses Monday’s news conference. Photo: Justin McManus

Crucially, the Tigers are looking for a new boss to oversee their player leadership program after Gerard Murphy left in some acrimony mid-season.

If the club is also looking for another strong voice in football, surely the role required is director of coaching, given Damien Hardwick’s performance this season, his refusal in the past to change some of his assistants, the holes in development and strategy  and the fact this will be a largely new group in 2017.

This latest group of rebels, and let’s face it there have been plenty of those over the past 12 months, support Gale and have no plans to release Hardwick from his contract. While the new structure around O’Neal’s board and its nominations committee has turned it into something of a closed shop, this challenge is politically naive and potentially more damaging.

They have no official connection to Neil Balme but want him back at the club, an announcement which reportedly embarrassed Balme, who appears increasingly likely to remain at Collingwood.

The group includes premiership players Bryan Wood and Bruce Monteath, who have been linked to challenges before – Wood officially when Charles Macek unsuccessfully took on Clinton Casey in 2004 – and should know better.

Although their timing was good, coming early on a Monday after a football-free weekend, they offered no solutions, no clear plan and no real point of difference. And yet, as Gale well knows, strong successful clubs don’t fall out with their former players as this exercise has indicated.

To their credit, they have put a name to their challenge and anyone who has watched the Tigers this season could sympathise with their frustration. But that does not justify such old-fashioned destructive blood-letting.

Even if Gale and O’Neal have taken too long to perform some bloody tasks of their own.
 

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