|V/AFL Clubs||Essendon, Port Adelaide|
Something of a late developer by modern standards, Damien Hardwick was almost twenty-two years of age when he made his senior AFL debut for Essendon in 1994. Prior to that he had spent time with North Melbourne reserves, Springvale in the VFA, and in the twos at Essendon where he won a best and fairest award in 1993. His promotion to the senior side was, in part, a result of a conscious elevation in determination and effort, and he quickly developed into a top quality defender. Tough, courageous and steely, he was no stranger to the league tribunal, particularly in his early years, but there could be no question that, on balance, his supremely aggressive approach was of benefit to his team, not least in the inspiration and reassurance it gave to his team mates. As the 1990s progressed, so Hardwick's form and consistency improved; he won the Bombers' best and fairest award in 1998, and two years later made a significant contribution to the club's almost indefatigable march to the premiership, earning AFL All Australian selection in the process. The dream ride did not continue for long, however, as at the end of the 2001 season, after 153 AFL games and 13 goals for the club, salary cap restrictions forced the Bombers to trade him to Port Adelaide.
Hardwick continued to display good, if somewhat less consistent, form with his new club, playing 54 games and kicking one goal in three seasons. His final game for the Power was the winning grand final of 2004 against Brisbane.
In 2010 he was appointed coach of Richmond.
Author - John Devaney