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Date & time Sep 3
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Richmond has a hope because of its fans

They are losing games by an average of 10 goals and they will not receive high draft picks if they finish bottom four on the ladder in the next two seasons.

It is the wrong time to be bottom of the ladder, with new clubs about to swallow the cream of the draft crop.

It represents realistic, passionate fans who want to travel the hard road of genuine renewal. Those 40,729 fans are sick of spin and van cleef and arpels perlee clover bracelet mediocrity and don't mind bottoming out if it means there is a real chance of building a club that can eventually deliver sustained success.

Amazingly, many of them don't want priority pick hand outs from the AFL.

That Richmond fans can be so reasonable and philosophical flies in the face of their stereotype as impatient, "poo dumping" hotheads, but modern footy fans know how hard it is to win premierships and make the finals consistently.

They love footy on the whole and have watched as clubs such as Hawthorn as it came from the doldrums and grew its membership and playing list on the way to a flag.

They know that club facilities need to be excellent, staff levels adequate, recruiting a priority.

A generation or two of footyheads have grown up under the draft and salary cap, where smart development became more important than charismatic, sometimes brutal club figureheads like Graeme Richmond.

This is a generation of fans that doesn't need to be spoonfed grandiose visions and plans. In fact, they are hostile to such outmoded PR. Give them a commitment to recruiting young talent and playing it, until a list capable of being competitive emerges, and you will have their backing.

Fans sold short for 25 years know there are no shortcuts, and they don't want to hear any more excuses.

In Damien Hardwick, such Richmond supporters have a no nonsense, no frills modern coach who doesn't promise what he can't deliver.

Hardwick's approach not surprisingly recalls unfashionable Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson in his first season, 2005. The Hawks won only five games that year, but persisted with Clarkson's seemingly eccentric gameplan, and played raw kids, offloading club veterans and stalwarts considered irrelevant to their longer term plans.

It was brave and gave the club a sense of mission. It also provided hope and ownership to the fans, who knew that short term pain would make the long term gain all the sweeter.

Richmond's plight is much worse than Hawthorn's in 2005, but in Hardwick, they have a coach who was an assistant in that campaign, and in the steady climb of Port Adelaide towards its first flag. He was a tough, honest back pocket as a footballer. He is made of the right stuff, and has the right attitude, and the Tiger fans have voted with their wallets.

Judicious rookie recruiting can make a big difference, as shown this year by Geelong with James Podsiadly, and especially Fremantle with Michael Barlow, Alex Silvagni, Jay van Berlo and Matt de Boer. There are opportunities in the daunting new environment, as well as restrictions.

Any such recruiting bargains would be added to a youthful group with plenty of potential. Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin, Brett Deledio, Jack Riewoldt, Mitch Morton, David Astbury, Daniel Jackson, and Troy Taylor have plenty of talent, and a lot of improvement in them, and and they have time on their side. Of the swathe of youngsters brought in van cleef and arpels perlee knock off bracelet at the last draft, there will surely be a couple who emerge in time as good prospects.

Hawthorn went from 12,484 members in 1996, as they wandered aimlessly into debt and obsolescence, to 27,005 members the following season when, jolted by the near miss merger with Melbourne, the club regained its purpose. Just over a decade later, they had a premiership.

Richmond fans would settle for that timeframe.

With the sort of support Melbourne and North Melbourne would kill for, the only thing Richmond can really do to endanger its long term survival is to start lying, or even sugar coating the reality of the club's plight to its fans, and to take their eye off football matters in search of off field prestige.

Encouragingly, Richmond appears determined to forge its own path, and does not appear to be endorsing calls for draft pick compensation from the AFL.

That is a start the footy world, most of all its own fans, knows that it is the poor decision making of previous adminstrators that has condemned the Tigers to their current status. CEO Brendon Gale told The Age's Martin Blake that his club van cleef and arpels perlee bracelet price had to "take its medicine for a little while".

Richmond's future stars

And the Tigers have bulked up their recruiting department, reportedly focusing on players coming out of contract at other clubs.

But if the Tiger hierarchy wants to capitalise on their good luck with their notoriously volatile supporter base, and use it as the basis of a Richmond renaissance, the way forward is clear.

The Wall

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