WHEN your coaching CV includes stops at six AFL clubs, your network within the football industry is wide and deep.
Such is the case with new St Kilda coach Alan Richardson, who over the journey has worn the garb of Collingwood as both a player and coach, followed by Richmond, the Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Carlton and Port Adelaide.
It has been a long journey for Richardson, who would have been part of the drought-breaking Collingwood 1990 premiership team if not for an injury suffered at training in the lead-up to the game.
He has worked for and alongside so many AFL coaches that there was widespread and genuine delight when one of the longtime background men of footy emerged as the frontrunner at St Kilda, after several near-misses before.
"Gee I hope he gets it," said one coaching identity earlier this week when it became apparent that Richardson was considering reversing his earlier pledge not to apply for the job.
It was a widely held wish within the fraternity, as it was a little more than 12 months ago when another perennial bridesmaid, Ken Hinkley, won the Port Adelaide job. Like Richardson this time around, Hinkley had to be talked into applying for the Port Adelaide job, and only did so at the behest of his family, after having run second on several occasions in the past.
Ironically, one of Hinkley's first acts upon joining Port was to install Richardson as his director of coaching, and together they worked a treat, lifting Port from 14th place to fifth.
As they worked long hours lifting the Power, they no doubt shared horror stories of failed coaching bids in the past, and the conversation late on Tuesday night, during which Richardson told Hinkley that he would like to pursue the St Kilda opportunity, must have been difficult.
What St Kilda is getting is a footy person who coaches as he played - straight, serious and measured. He has a strong background in player development and much of his best work has been at clubs as they establish playing lists that would eventually become premiership contenders.
At the Bulldogs, he was there for Rodney Eade's first year in charge and after he left, the Bulldogs made three straight preliminary finals. He was on the Collingwood staff in 2007 when the Pies ran eventual premiers Geelong to within five points in what was an epic preliminary final and would win the flag three years later.
Essendon made the finals while he worked with Matthew Knights and perhaps the only blemish on his CV is the fateful year he spent at Carlton as an assistant to Brett Ratten, where things unraveled at a frightening rate of knots. But as he pointed out on Thursday, it can't hurt to sometimes witness first hand what can go wrong at a footy club.
If there is a gap in his resume it is that every other coach in the AFL has either played or been in the coaches box on Grand Final Day. But Richardson is dead stiff in that case given how close he was to playing in 1990.
Still, it was Mark Williams' premiership triumph as coach of Port Adelaide in 2004 that led many to believe he was raging favourite to be the next coach of St Kilda.
How Williams went from near certainty to beaten favourite for the position is a bit murky but reports persist that he didn't quite nail last Friday's interview with the club with differences of opinion over intellectual property and the length of his tenure.
He also entered the interview knowing that Richmond, where he is the head of development and has made a major impact in just 12 months, was already planning to offer him a contract extension, hence his demand from the Saints for the security of a longer-term deal.
It is also clear now that for all the talk that Williams was "over the line", there was constant dialogue with Richardson's management taking place at the same time.
In the end, Richardson was the safer choice for St Kilda, which since the end of the season, has resembled a circus as much as it has an elite football club.
And it leaves Williams as the new coaching bridesmaid. He was second choice at Greater Western Sydney behind Kevin Sheedy, in the frame at Essendon behind James Hird and Mark Thompson and considered at Melbourne before Paul Roos took the job.
This latest opportunity might mark the end for Williams when it comes to senior coaching. He is set to remain at Richmond for as long as he wants to given his close ties to senior coach Damien Hardwick.
But then again, Hinkley and Richardson have provided the template for persisting, presenting and to keep knocking on the door.