Richmond coach Damien Hardwick steps out with new girlfriend

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick and his new partner Alexandra Crow enjoyed an afternoon walk together with their dog in Melbourne over the weekend as they were captured stepping out together for the first time.

The couple have faced intense public interest in their relationship, which blossomed when the three-time premiership-winning coach separated from his longtime wife Danielle, with whom he shares three children.

But they looked carefree as they sipped juice while walking their dog, Hank, in Elwood on Sunday afternoon.

RELATED: Who is Alexandra Crow?

There’s less than three weeks before Richmond opens another premiership defence against Carlton at the MCG and Hardwick has been forced to confront questions about the impact his personal life could have on the performance of his footy team.

Often referred to by the Tigers coach as “Mrs Hardwick” in press conferences, Danielle had been by her husband’s side through an incredibly successful career in football that’s included flags as a player with Essendon and Port Adelaide and now three more as coach of the Tigers.

Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said the separation was “intensely personal and private and sensitive” but had been dealt with behind closed doors.

“I think we’re all very saddened to see the end of a 30 year-relationship – I think that’s the natural response. But these things happen, as sad as they are,” Gale told 3AW.

“But at the end of the day, we decided on a course of action that we felt was in the best interest of the club. Damien’s been a very, very good coach for our football club and has continued to be so. He has a relationship with a person who happens to be an employee at a club – and that happens. We’ve got other people in relationships, we’ve got people, in fact, that are married. We have policies in place and guidelines which help manage that – and at the end of the day, we were satisfied everything was in place, the course of action followed.

“Damien is a very good football coach and will continue to be so at Richmond for many years to come.”

Gale held no fears it would impact the playing group. “I’ll be honest, I worry for the family and I worry that’s a sad thing to see. But in terms of the football club, I don’t worry because our club, our football department and our coaches and our team have got a proven ability to focus on the things that are within their control, the things that really matter,” he said.

“They’re battle-hardened and they’ve got a flint-edged focus on performance. They’re really well prepared, they’re well coached, they’re hungry, they’re a very driven group – and I expect them to take that attitude into the 2021 season.”

But veteran football scribe Caroline Wilson believes the situation could cause headaches for the veteran coach.

Wilson said Hardwick used his wife in public to create a “personal brand” and believes he runs the risk of losing the moral high ground when it comes to admonishing players for missteps.

“In a workplace sense, this is a senior and junior colleague who embark upon an affair, probably cover it up — certainly cover it up,” Wilson told the ABC’s Offsiders program in January.

“At the very least, it was not reported to human resources or anyone senior at the club until the rumours became so strong that the question was asked by the CEO of the coach.

“I’m sorry, but we did see two AFL executives lose their jobs (in 2017) over a similar (incident). Don’t tell me it’s different, because it’s not. Don’t tell me they are in different departments because the coach has an all-encompassing influence over the whole club.

“Quite simply on an active football sense this is a man who created a personal brand out of his partner, Mrs Hardwick. She became his moral compass, and I just reckon a lot of people at the club feel duped, the public feel duped, the supporters feel duped.

“And if Trent Cotchin is suspended for three weeks in May or another player hides something and it comes out later, I think it’s going to be difficult for Damien Hardwick to tell these boys that they’ve let down the team.”

Offsiders host Kelli Underwood agreed with Wilson’s take on the matter, adding: “I just can’t understand when he put his head on the pillow at night how he possibly would have thought that this could play out for him. It’s got to have an effect internally.”

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Damien Power – Regret Man

Damien Power – Regret Man

Damien Power - Regret ManDamien Power - Regret Man

In the last couple of years Australian comedian Damien Power has collected rave reviews, award nominations and the respect of his peers. What more do you people want?

He has been nominated for the Melbourne Comedy Festival Most Oustanding Show Award three times, won the Directors’ Choice Award, Pinder Prize and been nominated for the Helpmann Awards Best Comedy Performer in 2019.

This year Damien’s throwing out the rule book, experimenting with new material, old material and everything in between. Don’t worry, you are in the hands of a master. He won’t let you down.

‘A hilarious and exceptional hour. ””’ Herald Sun

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Date/s: Thursday 25th March 2021 – Sunday 18th April 2021

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 Melbourne Town Hall  Events 9
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Melbourne Town Hall90 – 130 Swanston Street, Melbourne, , 3000

✆ Event: 03 8417 0000 | Venue: (03) 9658-9658

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Damien Power – Regret Man


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Richmond Tigers captain Trent Cotchin is not taking sides in coach Damien Hardwick’s marriage split

The Tigers have been at pains to state that the Hardwick marriage breakdown, and Damien’s new relationship with a club staffer, would not affect team cohesion as Richmond vie for a third premiership in a row and fourth in five seasons.

Speaking on Monday following the team’s photo day, Trent Cotchin said the club remained united and would stand by all parties involved.

Brooke Cotchin, left, with her husband Trent Cotchin. Credit:Vince Caligiuri

“It seems everything and anything that happens either within these four walls or outside of it is a story, and that’s understandable when we’re a big footy team and a big footy club,” Cotchin said.

“I think it’s genuinely a private matter that isn’t or really doesn’t have anything to do with the footy club.”

Cotchin said he and Damien Hardwick’s relationship remained strong.

“Good, no issues. I think what ‘Dimma’ and I have worked through, over a number of years now, is really unique and special, and like anything we’ll support both he and Danielle, and the kids. No one likes seeing a family breakdown in any sort of way. It’s been a challenging time for all, but again it’s a private matter that I would love to leave alone.


“There’s definitely no side taking. I think Dimma even spoke last week sometimes saying that he highly encourages everyone to support Danielle. That’s just the reality of the situation.“

As for Brooke’s post, Trent said it was merely a show of support for Danielle rather than a pot-shot at Damien.

“Like anyone, she would support her friends. Again, it’s not about taking sides. It’s about being there for each and every person who’s impacted in many different ways.”

The Hardwick drama has not been the only off-field issue at Richmond, with young gun Sydney Stack still stranded in Western Australia despite being released from prison having breached COVID-19 rules in WA.


Cotchin was however upbeat about Stack’s future at Punt Road, although he did not know when Stack would be back in Victoria.

“Stacky’s fundamentally an incredible person. He’s obviously had a couple of mishaps. He’s young, he’s still learning, he actually reached out last week to have a conversation about a few little things that he can change, which we’ll tee up over the next week or so,” Cotchin said.

Premiership Tigers Dylan Grimes and Dion Prestia have meanwhile signed contract extensions, which will keep them at the club until the end of 2023 and 2024 respectively.

“Both Dylan and Dion have been a massive part of our recent success and are driven and hungry to help us strive for more over the coming years,” Richmond list chief Blair Hartley said.

“Dylan has been a fantastic servant of the club’s for a long period of time and continues to set high standards for all of our players on and off the field.

“He is an excellent mentor for our young defenders and one of the best performing players in the competition.

“Likewise, Dion has been a consistently high performer for us across several years.

“It has been pleasing to see Dion rewarded for his hard work in recent years, but it has not changed his desire to keep pushing himself and the group forward.”

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Richmond Tigers coach Damien Hardwick breaks silence on relationship split

“Myself and Danielle’s number one priority will, as it always has been, [be] our three beautiful kids. I’m very proud of the kids, the job myself and Danielle have done with regard to raising them.

“It’s been a difficult time for everyone. Out of respect for Danielle and my kids, my private life is something that I’m not very comfortable speaking about.”


Hardwick accepted that some Richmond players have strong relationships with Danielle and that there was a need to talk about the issue as a group before everyone could move on.

“The reality was the first day back I had to speak to the players about it. That’s something we do at the club. It was important we did so to get on with the business of preparing for round one. We always speak about things that [are] distractions in our lives, and distraction that may bring about out demise as a great team.

“We’re now fully focused on preparing for round one. The players are understanding of my situation and where we’re at.


“There’s a lot of staff and players that are incredibly close to Danielle and my family. The fact of the matter is, my entire family has been a massive part and will continue to be a massive part of the Richmond Football Club.

“This isn’t about taking sides, it’s just about making sure what’s best for everyone.”

But when repeatedly pushed for details, Hardwick politely looked to steer the conversation back towards on-field matters.

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Richmond Tigers in talks to renew coach Damien Hardwick’s contract


Hardwick accepted less than his prospective market value when he signed a three-year contract extension in 2018. Industry sources say he is not remunerated as well as his close friend and Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson and, like other senior coaches, his ability to command a massive salary has been hurt by the reduction in the soft cap on football department spending.

Richmond has backed Hardwick strongly since addressing the issue of his relationship with a staffer at the club in January, with the Tigers hierarchy taking the view that the staffer, a member of their commercial sales team, did not work in football and that the relationship did not violate club policy.

The club said Hardwick had been transparent about the relationship. “The club is aware that coach Damien Hardwick is currently in a relationship with a member of the club’s administration staff. The club has no concerns with this under club policy,” a statement read.

The Tigers immediately told media that Hardwick would remain as coach this year, expressing confidence that the players and team would not be impacted by the relationship.


Hardwick’s break-up with his wife Danielle – whom he jestingly referred to as “Mrs Hardwick” in media conferences – had been public shortly after the season culminated with the Tigers winning their third premiership in four years, overcoming a raft of off-field issues during a season compromised and reshaped by COVID-19.

In terms of the coaching market, Collingwood has Nathan Buckley coming out of contract at the end of 2021, in his 10th season with the Magpies, while Melbourne’s Simon Goodwin, contracted for another two seasons, is under significant pressure to perform this year given the Demons have not played finals since 2018, are seen to have under-achieved in 2019 and to a lesser degree last year.

Hardwick’s expected new deal would extend his tenure to well beyond a decade. The former Essendon and Port Adelaide premiership player and Hawthorn assistant coach took over at the Tigers in 2010, when they were down the ladder and early in a rebuild, during a period of drafts compromised by the competition’s expansion.

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Caroline Wilson says Damien Hardwick has tarnished his leadership at Tigerland

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.


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.

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How will Richmond Tigers cope after the marriage breakdown of coach Damien Hardwick?


Although Riewoldt’s description rang true for those at the club on Monday when they saw Hardwick – who despite occasional public outbursts of frustration generally adopts a “never explain, never complain” attitude – bounce in to work ready to go, the effect on the club remains to be seen.

The coach knows what is required of him to do his job well, having admitted after last year’s grand final that his reluctance to accept COVID-19 restrictions affected the team, saying “the reality is if I’m struggling, the players are certainly going to feed off that energy” .

He also understands why some players are shocked at what has happened and appreciates they will need time and raw conversations to adjust to the new light in which some – certainly not all – of his most loyal lieutenants now see him.

But his demeanour allowed most players to maintain a guise that suggested if the personal issues were to have any impact on the club they would be minimal.

They showed in 2020 that they could overcome all manner of distractions, including Hardwick’s internal struggles, defeating Geelong in a hard-fought grand final. Early wins this season will push the very public private matter well into the background because for all the posturing from clubs that’s what matters most.

That doesn’t mean senior people at the club are underestimating what lies ahead as there are very few road maps for how modern, often superficially virtuous, football clubs handle such matters despite the situation being a classic conjunction of events – a very public and long-standing personal relationship breakdown, and the interaction of a senior staff member with a more junior one, albeit in a separate section of the organisation.

Skipper Trent Cotchin and Damien Hardwick lift the 2020 premiership cup.Credit:Getty Images

Richmond may not have couched it in such terms, but the reality is that the senior coach in any club holds more cards than anybody bar the CEO and the president, both who have remained, to this point, silent on the matter publicly.

The club released a statement addressing that power dynamic, saying they were satisfied after examining their human resources policy that they were comfortable in workplace terms with the situation, as marketing executive Alexandra Crow did not report to the coach.


Beth Gaze, a professor at Melbourne University’s Law School, says it appears from afar that the Tigers have handled the issue appropriately from that perspective.

“One of the concerns organisations have is that if someone has power over somebody else’s career that there may be some favouritism and that can, of course, really poison the workplace and can make relationships difficult,” Gaze said.

“The consequences of [such a relationship] should not rest on the woman or the more junior person and that is why organisations are in a sense saying if you are the senior person then it is your responsibility to make sure you have disclosed this and removed yourself from any control over their career.

“The rest of it is awkward but there is no way you can avoid those emotional consequences.”

Given there is no way of avoiding the emotional fallout, management led by CEO Brendon Gale and president Peggy O’Neal will need to be on their game.

Even though football clubs, generally speaking, get on with the job (Richmond are not the only club dealing this summer with marriage breakdowns or interoffice relationships that not everyone within the office are celebrating), this turn of events has saddened many.

What effect the marriage breakdown will have on those at the club close to the coach and his wife remains unclear; as we have seen, Danielle Hardwick and daughters were embraced by the captain’s wife, Brooke Cotchin, at Christmas.

Adding to the complexity is the fact the Tigers’ extensive network of tight personal bonds – common in AFL clubs but rare in most other workplaces – have been cited as one of the secrets to the Tigers’ recent success with the use of anecdotes and connected stories a key part of the coach’s modus operandi in recent years as he established a tight bond with his players.

The notion of being a “Richmond man” and concepts of mindfulness sat nicely beside Hardwick’s occasional public reference to Mrs Hardwick’s influence on his thinking, words that smoothed his rough edges and endeared him to the public whenever he apologised for overstepping the mark.


Family and football even intertwined before the 2019 grand final in a moment captured in Konrad Marshall’s book Stronger and Bolder when Hardwick gave each player a rock to write the name of the person they would dedicate their performance to as he argued it would make them more determined to succeed. He then held up a large rock carrying words revealing his own motivation, Danielle and family.

Such public and private expressions from the coach add another layer of complexity to managing the situation.

Despite all that, officials from other clubs share the Tigers’ view that their performance won’t be affected much, with the players’ pride in their performance paramount and the leaders experienced enough to allow Hardwick’s role to be one of alignment.

Many have been through change with Hardwick before as the coach began his career as a command-and-control coach who would stop drills midway to tell players where they should be and the decision they should make.

At that point Hardwick was less about finding time to have a coffee with players and more about using the time to talk about their positioning and what the numbers said about performance. His dress sense was chided, his down-to-earth nature and loyalty to them celebrated, but the emotional rollercoaster he took many at the club on was exhausting.

It wasn’t until the nadir of 2016 that he overcame his controlling instinct to give his best decision-makers licence to play and gave fringe players roles that emphasised their strengths with their pace giving the Tigers numbers around the ball.

He, relaxed, opened himself up to learning and created a game plan that one assistant coach said boiled down to Richmond taking the ball forward under pressure.

They scored off turnover and players such as the skipper led the way in creating a group of low-possession, high-impact players.

The so-called “simple” game plan is now, after four years of refinement, described by one experienced assistant as like an orchestra that makes the difficult coordination of disparate parts seem effortless in their creation of a masterpiece.


It is a turnaround that has Hardwick on the verge of equalling such coaching greats as Kevin Sheedy, Allan Jeans, Ron Barassi, Tom Hafey, David Parkin and the man he has shared so much with, Alastair Clarkson, with four flags.

Richmond are sticking with the coach, as they have before in trying times, hoping for business as usual.

After such a dramatic 2020 it might seem business as usual but time will tell what the real impact will be in season 2021 with the exhausted Gale telling 3AW pre-Christmas that they will have no option but to get on with it.

“We’ve just got to find a way to recharge and re-energise and renew and we will, because that’s the way our caper rolls,” Gale said.

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AFL 2021: Damien Hardwick split with wife, Richmond Tigers, addresses players, Simon Goodwin split with wife, Melbourne

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has addressed his players about his new relationship with a club staffer while a rival boss has become the third in recent months to split with his wife.

After previously flagging he would take a break until February, Hardwick returned to Punt Road on Monday as the senior players began their pre-season training regimen.

Hardwick split with his partner Danielle last year and the club has confirmed he has since begun a relationship with a member of Richmond’s administration staff.

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Richmond Tigers won’t be affected by coach Damien Hardwick’s relationship with club staffer, says Jack Riewoldt

Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt believes the breakdown of coach Damien Hardwick’s marriage and his new relationship with a club staffer will not affect the playing group in a negative way.

Hardwick recently announced his split with wife Danielle before reports emerged that the three-time premiership coach had begun a relationship with a staffer in the club’s commercial sales team.

Jack Riewoldt (right) says Damien Hardwick (centre) had addressed the issue of his new relationship with the playing group.Credit:Getty Images

Richmond last week said the relationship did not breach any of its club policies, while Riewoldt said on Monday that Hardwick had addressed the issue with the playing group.

“I don’t think it’s going to have any impact really,” Riewoldt said. “Damien is a good enough character to separate his personal life from his professional life and he has shown the last four years he has been arguably the best coach in the land and he will continue to support us and we will continue to support him.

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AFL news: Third coach splits with wife after Richmond Damien Hardwick and Collingwood Nathan Buckley separations

As it prepares to navigate another season that will likely be impacted by COVID, the AFL will continue to be wary of the impact placing its Victorian clubs in bubbles appears to have had on its coaching fraternity and their families.

There are countless reasons why marriages survive or fail and none but those involved know how critical being separated from each other for long periods of 2020 had on the relationships of Nathan Buckley, Damien Hardwick and a third AFL coach has chosen not to name.

But as news of the painful separations continue to emerge, the numbers are getting hard to ignore.

RELATED: Inside Nathan and Tania Buckley’s rocky marriage

RELATED: Explosive posts from Mrs Hardwick and Brooke Cotchin

If you throw in North Melbourne’s Rhyce Shaw, who was forced to leave a coveted senior coaching position at the end of the season to deal with personal issues of his own, four of the 10 coaches of Victorian clubs had their lives left in a state of upheaval last year.

It was the coaches and players of the Melbourne clubs, forced out of Victoria as it suffered the worst of the pandemic, that were placed under the greatest strain. All of the interstate clubs were stretched too but their periods of separation from their families were interspersed with regular periods at home.

The 2020 quartet join a disturbing list of senior AFL coaches to have suffered personal issues while trying to deal with the incredible pressure that comes with being a senior coach.

It’s a trend that saw long-time Hawthorn mentor Alastair Clarkson speak out after Shaw stepped down at the Kangaroos.

“I’m a bit concerned for our profession,” Clarkson told Fox Footy’s AFL 360. “Especially my 17 peers in the roles that we’ve got.

“We’ve always looked after everyone else in the club and put everyone else in the club before ourselves. It might be time for us to take stock ourselves of just what our workflow is and our schedule because it’s now getting to a point where we’re seeing some real casualties out of our industry.”

There’s no doubt the AFL prevented significant personal hardship by forging on with its season and ensuring as many in the industry as possible continued to earn a wage.

It also did everything within its power to make the revised season as comfortable as possible for all involved by inviting families that were able were to come to the isolation hubs in Queensland.

You could argue no one was forced to be involved either. But there is unspoken pressure in football and many working environments to continue to front up despite – as Collingwood player Travis Varcoe revealed last week – many hating the experience.

It’s all worth considering if COVID comes knocking again this season.

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