Alastair Clarkson

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Alastair Clarkson
Alastair&Samvisit.jpg
Alastair Clarkson (left)
Personal information
Full name Alastair Clarkson
Date of birth (1968-04-27) 27 April 1968 (age 46)
Original team Kaniva (TFL)
Height/Weight 171cm / 79kg
Position(s) Forward
Club information
Current club Hawthorn
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1987–1995
1996–1997
Total
North Melbourne
Melbourne
093 (61)
041 (24)
134 (85)
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
2005– Hawthorn 233 (144–88–1)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 1997 season.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 2014.
Career highlights

Alastair Clarkson (born 27 April 1968[2]) is a former Australian rules footballer and the current coach of the Hawthorn Football Club.

Playing career[edit]

North Melbourne[edit]

Clarkson was recruited from Kaniva, Victoria to the North Melbourne Football Club, where he made his Victorian Football League debut in 1987, kicking the winning goal after the siren in his first senior game for the Kangaroos.

Clarkson was 19 and at the end of his first season with North Melbourne when the Kangaroos met Carlton in October 1987 in the controversial Battle Of Britain, an exhibition match at The Oval in London. Several players from both teams were suspended after a spiteful game, Clarkson's four-match penalty for king hitting Ian Aitken from behind being the longest. Aitken's jaw was broken from the blow.[3]

He played mainly as a half-forward and stood at 171 cm, before moving into the midfield. In 1995, he was made captain of the reserves side, with chances of senior selection unlikely due to the presence of midfielders such as Wayne Schwass, Anthony Stevens and Anthony Rock. He played 91 games with the Kangaroos for 61 goals in his nine seasons until 1995.

During his playing days with North Melbourne, Clarkson was employed by Wesley College Melbourne in Prahran as a physical education teacher.

Move to Melbourne[edit]

With limited opportunity at the Kangaroos, Clarkson was drafted by the Melbourne Football Club where he debuted in 1996. He was a solid player and averaged 23.5 disposals in 22 games that year. He played 19 games in 1997, taking his tally with the Demons to 41 games, before retiring at the end of the season.

Coaching career[edit]

Clarkson served as a runner with the Melbourne Football Club in 1998 and was an assistant coach under Tim Watson at St Kilda in 1999, before taking over as head coach at Werribee in the VFL in 2000. He moved to Central District in South Australia, where he was premiership coach in his debut year 2001. In 2003 he became the midfield coach at Port Adelaide and the forward coach in 2004.

Clarkson was appointed to his first senior Australian Football League (AFL) coaching role for the 2005 season, when the Hawks appointed him to lead their rebuilding phase. He was prepared to delist older players and introduce a youth policy. Club veterans Rayden Tallis, Mark Graham, Kris Barlow, Luke McCabe and Lance Picioane left the club and Nathan Thompson was traded to North Melbourne. Hawthorn had five wins in Clarkson's debut season. Another round of culling saw the delisting of Angelo Lekkas and Nick Holland and the trade of Jonathan Hay and Nathan Lonie. Clarkson brought to the club delisted players Brent Guerra and Stephen Gilham whom he knew from his time at Port Adelaide. In 2006 the side improved as Clarkson showed innovation by restructuring the forwards with a system that became known as "Buddy's box". The team won its last four games in a row to finish in 11th spot on the ladder. The Hawks continued to improve in 2007, winning 13 games and finishing fifth on the premiership table. This took them into the finals, where they defeated Adelaide in an elimination final, before being eliminated in a semi-final against North Melbourne.

On draft day 2007, Clarkson went against his own policy when he recruited the recently retired Stuart Dew in addition to youngster Cyril Rioli. He also introduced a new style of play that became known as the "Clarkson Cluster". Early dominance in the 2008 season led Hawthorn to announce that Clarkson had signed a contract until the end of 2011. In 2008, he took the Hawks to second place at the end of the minor round before leading the team to the premiership victory in the 2008 AFL Grand Final against Geelong, a team which had lost only one game during the year. In doing so, Clarkson became the first (and, as of 2011, only) person to be a premiership winning coach in both the AFL/VFL and the SANFL.

After the 2008 premiership, opposition teams worked hard at picking the "Clarkson cluster" apart. Dogged by injuries to key players, the Hawks slipped down the ladder to finish ninth in 2009. After a poor start to 2010, when the club lost six out of its first seven games, the team finally abandoned the cluster for a more precision-kicking style. Aided by recruiting established players to cover weaknesses, the club climbed its way back up the ladder. Shaun Burgoyne and Josh Gibson arrived in 2010, David Hale in 2011, Jack Gunston in 2012 and Brian Lake in 2013, which helped Clarkson to again lead the Hawks to a premiership win, this time over the Fremantle in the 2013 AFL Grand Final.

In 2013, Clarkson became only the third man behind John Kennedy, Sr. and Allan Jeans to coach Hawthorn for 200 games. He is the only man to coach the club in 200 consecutive games. In Round 8, 2014, he became the equal second longest serving coach of Hawthorn, with Allan Jeans, when he coached his 221st AFL match against the Sydney Swans.[4]

Clarkson is scheduled to coach the Australian team for a one-off test against Ireland in the International Rules Series game at Perth's Paterson Stadium on 22 November 2014.[5] The IRS is a hybrid game (previously two games) played between an Australian team of AFL players and one made up of Irish Gaelic footballers at the end of each of their seasons. It is played alternately in Ireland and Australia. The 2014 game will be the first time in the competition's 30 year history that just one game will decide the series winner.

In May 2014, Clarkson was admitted to hospital after a back injury which was later diagnosed as Guillain-Barré Syndrome.[6] The assistant coach, Brendon Bolton, became the interim senior coach. Clarkson returned in July and coached Hawthorn their 12th premiership win when they defeated Sydney 21.11 (137) to 11.8 (74). This placed him alongside Allan Jeans and John Kennedy Sr as Hawthorn's most successful premiership winning coaches, with three premierships each.

Statistics[edit]

Playing statistics[edit]

[7]
Legend
 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team # Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1987 North Melbourne 57 8 7 8 67 34 101 15 4 0.9 1.0 8.4 4.3 12.6 1.9 0.5
1988 North Melbourne 23 19 34 23 230 99 329 102 12 1.8 1.2 12.1 5.2 17.3 5.4 0.6
1989 North Melbourne 23 13 8 11 136 63 199 40 13 0.6 0.8 10.5 4.8 15.3 3.1 1.0
1990 North Melbourne 23 7 2 7 74 30 104 21 5 0.3 1.0 10.6 4.3 14.9 3.0 0.7
1991 North Melbourne 23 5 1 3 31 30 61 10 0 0.2 0.6 6.2 6.0 12.2 2.0 0.0
1992 North Melbourne 23 10 2 3 85 62 147 24 10 0.2 0.3 8.5 6.2 14.7 2.4 1.0
1993 North Melbourne 23 14 1 2 98 60 158 16 18 0.1 0.1 7.0 4.3 11.3 1.1 1.3
1994 North Melbourne 23 14 6 3 119 67 186 20 23 0.4 0.2 8.5 4.8 13.3 1.4 1.6
1995 North Melbourne 23 3 0 2 10 7 17 2 1 0.0 0.7 3.3 2.3 5.7 0.7 0.3
1996 Melbourne 23 22 13 12 369 150 519 107 35 0.6 0.5 16.8 6.8 23.6 4.9 1.6
1997 Melbourne 23 19 11 1 202 88 290 61 28 0.6 0.1 10.6 4.6 15.3 3.2 1.5
Career 134 85 75 1421 690 2111 418 149 0.6 0.6 10.6 5.1 15.8 3.1 1.1

Coaching statistics[edit]

[8]
Season Team Games Coached Wins Losses Draws Points % Ladder Position League Teams
2005 Hawthorn 22 5 17 0 22.7% 14 16
2006 Hawthorn 22 9 13 0 40.9% 11 16
2007 Hawthorn 24 14 10 0 58.3% 5 16
2008 Hawthorn 25 20 5 0 80.0% 2 16
2009 Hawthorn 22 9 13 0 40.9% 9 16
2010 Hawthorn 23 12 10 1 54.3% 7 16
2011 Hawthorn 25 19 6 0 76.0% 3 17
2012 Hawthorn 25 19 6 0 76.0% 1 18
2013 Hawthorn 25 22 3 0 88.0% 1 18
^ 2014 Hawthorn 20 15 5 0 75.0% 2 18
Career totals 233 144 88 1 62.02% 5.50 16.70

* = Unfinished season

^ = Due to illness, Clarkson was unavailable for senior coaching for five matches in 2014. Brendon Bolton coached Hawthorn in those five matches between Round 11-15 (all of which Hawthorn won).

Honours and achievements[edit]

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
1987
1988 2
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996 2
1997 1
Total 5
Key:
Green / Bold = Won
* = joint winner
Red / Italics = Ineligible

Coaching honours[edit]

Team

Individual

Temperament[edit]

In addition to his role in the Battle of Britain exhibition match, Clarkson has been sanctioned for his bad temper on several occasions during his coaching career. In Round 22, 2009 against Essendon, Clarkson was fined $15,000 for confronting and threatening Matthew Lloyd after Lloyd had flattened Hawthorn's Brad Sewell and started a brawl at the start of the third quarter of the match, and for abusing an interchange steward who attempted to intervene in the incident.[9]

In July 2012, while serving as the runner for his son's team in a South Metro Junior Football League under-9s match, Clarkson was reported for abusing 19-year-old umpires' adviser Thomas Grundy; he was suspended for four SMJFL matches for the incident. The incident occurred one day after he had punched a hole in the wall of a Melbourne Cricket Ground coaches' box during an AFL match.[10]

In May 2013, Clarkson again created controversy after reportedly calling an AFL journalist a "cockhead" after the journalist pushed Clarkson on a question he had already answered repeatedly.[11] Clarkson had found the question to be disrespectful to Greater Western Sydney as a legitimate opponent.

Personal life[edit]

Clarkson holds a Master of Business Administration from Monash University.[12]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Donald McDonald
Hawthorn Football Club coach
2005–
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Mark Thompson
John Longmire
Premiership Coach
Jock McHale Medallist

2008
2013–2014
Succeeded by
Mark Thompson
Incumbent