We have reached peak Robbo

Few, if anyone, could have predicted the remarkable transformation of the Richmond Football Club in 2017 under coach Damien Hardwick.

There is good reason for that, seeing as the last time we saw the Tigers in 2016, they were suffering an embarrassing 113-point loss against Sydney at the SCG. They seemed as far away from a Grand Final as any team in the league, only clairvoyants and the most optimistic Tigers supporters could have sensed this turnaround.

Hardwick loomed as the key scapegoat if Richmond didn’t improve on their eight-win total. Herald Sun Chief Football Writer Mark Robinson made this prediction at the beginning of the year;

It wasn’t an awful prediction, Hardwick had barely survived an extensive club review at the end of the 2016 season and even with the additions of Dion Prestia and Josh Caddy, the coach entered his eighth year on thin ice and a slow start could definitely have seen him fired by mid-season.

It’s easy to pick on Robbo, his prediction just happened to appear across Twitter today, you can guess there’s other predictions on Richmond along those lines from so-called experts either on record or not. So, who saw the revival coming, anyone?

There was one man who foresaw the return of the Tigers to September and the Grand Final, one journalist brave enough to stand by Hardwick and back him in to turn his coaching career and Richmond’s fortune around. That journalist was the same man who had Hardwick sacked by mid-year, Mark Robinson.

Back in April last year, a full 17-months ago when all of the AFL world had given up on Richmond and Hardwick, Robinson put all his chips into the middle of the table and backed Hardwick in. The Tigers had started 1-5, the coach and the club were done, yet Robbo still believed.

Now you may be asking why an old article from April, 2016 is relevant now. So much has changed since then, particularly Mark Robinson’s opinion of the Grand Final coach, Damien Hardwick. Well, in the middle of Grand Final week, as the yellow and black army ready themselves to descend on the MCG this Saturday for this first time since 1982, someone wanted to remind the football public of his prediction, why it was Robbo himself of course.

That’s why an article written an eternity ago appeared on the front page of the Superfooty website and was splashed across Twitter timelines.

Mark Robinson has had many golden moments of self-aggrandising. He’s had beers with almost every premiership player in AFL history, has AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan on speed dial, was apparently thanked by Jordan Lewis’ mother for helping him win three of his four premierships and was the moral conscious after Leigh Montagna was suspended during the season.

This latest stunt has to take the cake, not only to even remember he had even written the article, not only to feel it necessary to remind everyone, not only to ignore how he swung the other way a year later, no, it’s none of that, it’s the finer details.

Putting his own name in the headline proclaiming his support of Hardwick, the fact that at first glance it seems as if he has written a fresh article discussing his own past article and the coup de gras, this delicious intro;

“RICHMOND was in a world of pain in April last season, but when Mark Robinson assessed the Tigers he came to a surprising conclusion. Read the column here.”

The analysis of a football savant, right there.

If Robbo wasn’t so devoid of irony and the least self-aware person on the planet, you could have assumed he was doing it for a laugh, or thinking cynically, just doing it as clickbait to get fans riled up, and sure enough there were plenty reminding him of his backflip.

Yet nothing Robbo does has any deeper meaning, it’s all right there on the surface, he believes everything he says without a hint of modesty or sarcasm.

So, when Richmond enter the coliseum of the MCG this Saturday, remember, one man saw it coming the whole time.