A VFL player who allegedly endured Damien Hardwick’s verbal abuse was a “weird” experience but says he holds “no hard feelings” against the Richmond coach.
Three-time Coleman Medalist Matthew Lloyd, who played alongside Hardwick in Essendon’s 2000 premiership, said his former teammate would “do it again” for any of his players for his commitment to protecting his people.
of Herald Sun On Monday, Hardwick reported that Seagulls forward Darby Henderson called him a “weak f***ing pr***k” during the Richmond-Williamstown VFL clash at Punt Road Oval on Saturday.
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend with ad-free in-game streaming on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Hardwick’s alleged comments came five minutes after Henderson retaliated against AFL-listed Tiger Ryan Mansell for hitting him in the fence.
Some witnesses said they heard Hardwick say, “Come here and I’ll show you how tough you are,” though Richmond denied that claim.
Both the Tigers and the Seagulls indicated that they believed the matter was closed with the intention of taking it further. However, the AFL launched its own inquiries into the incident on Monday, which is expected to prompt questions from both clubs in the league.
Talking with Herald Sun On Monday, Henderson said he was shocked to learn that Hardwick was the man calling from the crowd.
He added that the eyewitness accounts reported in the publication were “derived from memory” and consistent with what he heard and what was said by onlookers.
“I heard someone coming up and I didn’t know who it was, then I looked up and saw that it was ‘Dima’ (Hardwick),” he said.
“It was very strange. It was a little weird… a little weird.
“He was going really hard … it was about five or six minutes (of the event) before I was out, so he had it in his mind and he was waiting there.
NEW FIRST CRACK PODCAST – R19 PACKAGE: Epic Weekend Crashed…and How the Dons Blowed It
Listen below or subscribe to Apple Podcasts or Spotify
“One of the supporters started to come back at him, but I just kept my mouth shut. He might be getting a fair bit to say to the support staff, too.
“I understand that he had a strong attachment to one of his young players… Maybe he was in the heat of the moment and I don’t have any feelings.”
Speaking on channel 9 Leg assignedLloyd Hardwick said he wasn’t surprised Mansell was holding on.
“Against Damien, his greatest strength may be his weakness,” Lloyd said. Leg assigned. Me and Ken played with Damien in the Premiership and as you can see he looks after his players and team mates.
“Again, I think it does that for the player. I think he was very disappointed in the behavior of the Williamstown football player.
Ken Cornes of the Hardwick Power Premiership team added: “I don’t have a problem with that event in particular. I think a coach protects his players and shows the competitiveness of his players.
“But there’s no doubt there’s been frustration (in recent weeks). The complaints to the umpires against captain Toby Nankervis – and his unethical behavior – are some of the things he has been visibly upset about in the last two years.
Cornes said the Tigers would be wise to respectfully consider what the club will look like after Hardwick’s tenure.
“I think you would be very brave to move on from a three-time Premier League manager who is under contract,” he said.
“You never think Alastair Clarkson’s time (at Hawthorn last year) will come to an end. Now I’m not suggesting that’s the end of this year (for Richmond), but I think it’s going to be a conversation.
“Thirteen years is a long time, especially after getting through to the finals last year, he may have missed out again this year, the results in the last three or four weeks have been out of line.
“This is something that needs to be discussed and a succession plan should be put in place.”
Lloyd added: “They (the Hawks) would have Sam Mitchell with Alastair Clarkson on the wing… but I think Damien will only be released if it’s good enough. But he still seems very hungry to coach Richmond next season.