An advertising executive, Gardner was first elected to the board for 2002 as part of Gabriel Szondy's "Team Vision" ticket with 6,550 votes.
He became President in 2003 upon the resignation of Szondy. His appointment was confirmed when seven of 13 candidates - including four independants - supported him at that year's board election. The opposing ticket, led by Alan Guthrie, failed to deliver any 'big name' candidates capable of taking votes off the man Szondy annoited as his successor.
One of his first public comments was that the 2004 season draft amounted to "pre-meditated murder" of the club.
An early casualty of his reign was CEO, and Szondy appointee Ray Ellis who was asked to resign in February 2004 after a projected profit in 2003 turned into a $2.2 million loss.
In May 2004 Gardner announced that the club were losing $100,000 a month. He announced his resignation in June 2008 Chairman's Lunch and was immediately succeeded by Jim Stynes.
"More Demons back Gardner" - The Age 11/12/2003
"Demons tell CEO to quit" - The Age 10/02/04
"Demons losing $100,000 a month" - The Age 22/05/2004