Sport AFL The St Kilda circus has a new ringmaster
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The St Kilda circus has a new ringmaster

Alan Richardson
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When Alan Richardson’s alarm sounded on Friday morning he was the new senior coach of St Kilda.

One wonders if, when he pondered the size of the task at hand, he felt like reaching for the snooze button.

Getting to coach an AFL club is like being a Formula One driver – it’s an exclusive club, with a strict limit on seats available.

Richardson’s appointment at St Kilda is like giving him the keys to a Williams – sure, he’s realising an ambition, but he’s driving something that hasn’t seriously challenged for a while, and doesn’t look like getting anywhere near it soon.

The Saints have given up Ben McEvoy, lost Nick Dal Santo, Stephen Milne, Jason Blake and Justin Koschitzke, but the glass-half-full crowd are pointing to the fact they have three picks inside the top 20 at this year’s draft.

That may be so, but they’ve got just as much chance of picking up a Tambling, Fiora or Angwin as a Franklin, Pavlich or Burgoyne.

Not only is the playing list in poor shape, off the field the club don’t kick many goals either.

Apart from Ross Lyon’s successful stint from 2007 until 2011, the senior coaching role has been a revolving door that spits out men in worse psychological shape than when they entered.

Tim Watson, Malcolm Blight, Grant Thomas – even Stan Alves, who took them to a grand final in 1997 and was dumped just 12 months later – none looked particularly buoyant after trudging through the Moorabbin exit door.

Dermott Brereton has gone on the record declaring Saints football chief Chris Pelchen as one of football’s “myths”.

Even the way they lured Richardson has come in for some criticism.

How many times can you recall an assistant coach appointed to a senior role only to have his former club’s CEO come out swinging at the way the deal was done?

That’s precisely what Port chief Keith Thomas did on Thursday.

With all that said, there are some reasons for optimism – Jack Steven (23) won his first Trevor Barker award for club champion this year, and high hopes are held for youngsters like Brodie Murdoch (19), Jack Newnes (20), Jimmy Webster (20) and Arryn Siposs (20).

And there is Richardson himself – who, along with Ken Hinkley, helped architect an incredible transformation at a similarly dishevelled Port Adelaide last season.

All outward appearances point to Richardson being made of the right stuff.

He’ll need to be, because the Saints look well behind the pack, on and off the track.