Read Part 1 of our three-part series here.
Ted Richards’ rise from the ashes began with the untimely end of a Swans’ career in Craig Bolton.
Bolton badly injured his Achilles tendon in round 5 of 2010 against West Coast and would not play again.
After eight weeks in the reserves, Richards returned to the senior team in round 15 and played out the rest of the season.
It was enough to secure his spot for another season at least.
But if he was going to stick around, he needed a new approach for 2011 and going forward.
The 2010 off-season, as he recalled, was critical for what was to be a new beginning at centre-half back.
“I did a lot of reflecting at the end of the 2010 season, and I was always a hard worker, but how I was going about things, I needed to change to be a great footballer, not just someone who’s picked each week,” he said.
“There was a book that really resonated with me called ‘Good To Great’ by Jim Collins and there are a couple of nuggets I took from that; one being having a big hairy audacious goal which was that I was going to be the best centre-half back in the competition.
“The second was working out, how I was going to be picked each week, how that was going to happen.
“The other was not trying to do everything… a parable that Jim uses in the book, was the Hedgehog and the fox, I’d try and be the Hedgehog, someone that’s only good at one thing, but does that one thing incredibly well.
“It was hard at the time because I was on a one-year deal, I’d almost been cut the season before.
“But really focusing on that goal was kind of like a fly-wheel, it was hard at first, but the more I pushed, the more momentum I got. And over the next two years, my career really took off.”
If 2011 was good, 2012 was unbelievable.
Out of nowhere Richards, who in his words was on his last legs of his career, was suddenly the overnight sensation at centre-half back.
After only missing a handful of games in 2011, he played every game in 2012, and had reached the top of his game with his All-Australian blazer at centre-half back.
But overnight success is something he was quick to dismiss.
“To think of where I came from in the last parts of 2010, and to play in the premiership, I won’t lie there were times I’d never thought I’d get there,” he said.
“Some people may look back and say it was an overnight success, but the reality was I’d been working for this for a very long time.”
The 2012 grand final was memorable for every Swans fan, player and coach, and Richards was no exception.
He struggled to get on the park for one of the biggest assignments for any defender, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin.
As he explains, the Swans fitness staff had to work overtime to ensure he could line up on the champion spearhead on the day.
“Stepping away from the occasion, that was a very unique game for me,” he said.
“I’d hurt my syndesmosis the week before, in a pretty bad way and was probably out for five or six weeks, so I was incredibly nervous that I wouldn’t be able to compete, let alone play on one of the most athletic forwards in ‘Buddy’ Franklin.
“But credit to the Swans fitness staff, they said they could help get me through this game through pain-killing injections and strapping the ankle up.
“By no means do I think that I dominated on the day, but when I look back on that occasion I know that I played my role for the team and ensured that we won the premiership.”
Franklin and Richards would go from opponents to teammates when Sydney and Hawthorn lined up again in 2014.
But this was not a game to savour for the Swans, as Richards explains how disappointing the climax was.
“I was lucky enough to play in three grand finals,” he said.
“2006, we can hold our head up high for how we competed on the day, and that will go down as one of the best grand finals ever despite the fact that we lost.
“2012, similar story, and it went down to the wire, and we won on the day.
“Unfortunately, for 2014, all the hard work we did as a team to get there, when I look back on that game I was just disappointed that we didn’t bring our best that day.