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The Richo you don't know

Richo: the players' coach A 15-year coaching apprenticeship. Five AFL clubs. This is why the players love Richo...
Alan Richardson has always had a passion for fishing.
We always knew that he was destined for bigger and better things.
Former East Burwood FC President Paul Williamson

COUNTING Alan Richardson’s detractors is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

From East Burwood Football Club to St Kilda, Richardson is universally respected for his honesty and authenticity.

For a senior AFL coach in a high pressured environment, being liked is one thing, but being respected is the most critical factor – and Richardson has both in spades. 

What you see is what you get. And that, according to former teammate and close friend Gavin Brown, has always been the case.

“Richo is very loyal, intelligent and caring,” Brown - who is now an assistant at North Melbourne - told

“I worked with him at Collingwood and Carlton and he was a standout in his ability to teach and communicate with young people.

“It was inevitable that he was going to coach. He had all the attributes. As a player he worked really hard.”

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Richardson also possesses a streak of spontaneity that, in his younger days, bordered on recklessness, said Brown.

“He’s an impulsive type of person,” he said.

“He bought a caboose like an old tram carriage in the late 1980s but had nowhere to put it. It had to be delivered the next day so got it delivered to the property where he was about to buy in Park Orchards… before he bought the house!

“He’s certainly a bit different, but in a good way.”

ARTICLE: Richo re-signs

Richardson’s football journey began at East Burwood Football Club in the mid-1970s.

He was self-admittedly a mid-range junior at best. Richardson would spend his Saturdays watching the seniors play alongside his childhood friend Paul Meddings. His father, Stuart Richardson played under Kevin Meddings in back-to-back premierships for the club in late 1960s.

“We were four or five years old watching our fathers play,” Paul Meddings recalled.

“I can’t remember exactly what happened, but all I know is there was a bulletin sent out by Victoria Police late one Saturday afternoon for two kids who were missing.

“As it turned out, they found us at the Burvale Hotel on the corner of Burwood Highway and Springvale Road… we were always up to something.”

A shy but mischievous kid, Richardson was always a tremendously hard worker according to long-time East Burwood clubman Paul Williamson.

Williamson worked with Richardson’s father and has known him since he was eight years old.

“He was a freckled face young fella with a cheeky grin and could be a little terror at times,” Williamson recalled.

“But he always worked extremely hard at his game and was very competitive.”

Captain-coach Richardson holds the Eastern Football League premiership cup aloft with Derek Coghlan. 1999

As a 13-year-old, Richardson played in the club’s first junior flag in 1978, and just five years later played under current GWS assistant Alan McConnell in a senior premiership before trying his hand at North Melbourne and then Collingwood in the VFL. 

After retiring from league football after 114 games, Richardson was East Burwood’s assistant coach in 1997 before stepping up to the top job for the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons as captain-coach.

By this time, Williamson was President of the club and saw first-hand how strong Richardson’s rapport was with players, supporters and key stakeholders.

“His relationship with people was unbelievable,” Williamson said.

“His players would do anything that he asked of them and in both the 1999 and 2000 finals series we lost the second semi-final after finishing first on the ladder.

“Richo offered to step down as a player and just coach for the finals series, which shows how modest he is. But we really needed him to play with his level head and leadership. So he did, and we won back-to-back flags… We always knew that he was destined for bigger and better things after that.”  


Williamson was right.

Richardson coached Coburg in the VFL when it was affiliated with the Danny Frawley led Tigers, before joining Peter Rohde at the Western Bulldogs.

Stints at Collingwood, Essendon, Carlton and Port Adelaide followed – allowing the man affectionately known as ‘Richo’ to serve an apprenticeship that had him primed for a senior role.

“Richo loves his basketball,” close friend, former housemate and Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley told

“He puts up more shots than Michael Jordan and has visions of grandeur... but in all seriousness, he's a very trustworthy and affable bloke.”

When St Kilda came calling a week before the 2013 National Draft, Richardson caught a plane from Adelaide to Melbourne in the morning and signed a three-year deal that same afternoon.

With just over one season to run on the original deal, the 50-year-old has re-committed until the end of 2018 – much to the joy of St Kilda’s loyal fan base… not just because they like him, but because they respect him.

VIDEO: Alan and the Richardsons

Playing career:

Collingwood: 1987-1996

114 games, 10 goals


AFL coaching career:

East Burwood: 1998-2000 (Premierships: 1999 & 2000)

Coburg (VFL): 2001-2002

Western Bulldogs (Forwards/Backs coach): 2003-2005

Collingwood (Development Manager): 2006-08

Essendon (Forwards coach): 2009-10

Carlton (Senior assistant): 2011-12

Port Adelaide (Director of coaching): 2013

St Kilda (Senior coach): 2014 –



Wife: Joanne Richardson

Children: Ben (17) and Lachey (16)

Alan Richardson, aged 13 in 1978.

Richardson with the 1985 East Burwood premiership side.
Richardson in Darwin in 1995.
Sav Rocca and Richardson in 1998.
Sav Rocca, Richardson and Gavin Brown, 1998.
Richardson coaching East Burwood in 1999.
Captain-coach Alan Richardson with East Burwood in 2000.
Bulldogs player Tim Walsh and Richardson in 2004.
Richardson was Brett Ratten's senior assistant in 2011 and 2012.
Richardson coaching St Kilda in 2015. 
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