Its official, the Rick Hart reign at Fremantle has come to an end.
It was clear to me today that most people have an opinion on Mr Hart. Whether it is simply a reaction to his slightly annoying ads on tv or his stick it up em attitude to the other mob in town, Hart's rambuncitous demeanour and strong personality have always divided fans of the club.
But what did this President ultimately achieve in his tenure? There is no doubt that the reversal of debt, increase in memberships, surplus in corporate sponsorship and improved facilities has to be somewhat credited to Hart. Just turning the Fremantle Football Club into a profitable entity was no small task for the corporate wiz who aggresively sort a business model that could make the club viable. And it worked, the Dockers had 23,000 members in 2001, in 2008 they had 43,000 and a huge bump in average home attendance.
The question is, did Hart help initiate an aggressive, affective marketing campaign to increase membership, or did the first finals success of 2002 really stir a sleeping giant of football supporters that were always here, just waiting for signs of life from the club.
What most supporters will ultimately judge Hart on is the results on the field and if that is the case it would likely be a negative reaction. One and done in 02, 3rd in 06 with the first finals win and then ultimately defeat in the preliminary final. Thats really all the success that the Dockers achieved during Hart's time. And given that measuring stick, its hard to say it was positive.
But like many in power that hand over in a time of an entity in its lower epp, Hart could be very responsible for the future success of this franchise. Its hard to say for sure how this squad shapes in the next 2 years but the demolition of finals contender Port last week was a small insight into what this team could become.
Only time will tell if Hart's impact will cross at all from the corporate boxes to the field in the future.