Alastair Clarkson

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Alastair Clarkson
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)
North Melbourne
093 (61)
041 (24)
134 (85)
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
2005– Hawthorn 222 (135–86–1)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 1997 season.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of Round 10, 2014.
Career highlights

Alastair Clarkson (born 27 April 1968)[2] is a former Australian rules footballer and 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 VFL 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 notorious 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 the heaviest for king hitting Ian Aitken, from behind. Aitken had his jaw 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 just 91 games with the Kangaroos for 61 goals in his nine seasons there until '95.

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 his 22 games that year. He played a further 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 a Premiership coach in his debut year 2001. In 2003 he became the midfield coach at Port Adelaide and forward coach in 2004.

He was appointed his first senior AFL coaching role at the Hawthorn Football Club for the 2005 season, when the Hawks appointed Clarkson to lead their rebuilding phase. Clarkson was prepared to delist older players and instill a youth policy. Club veterans Rayden Tallis, Mark Graham, Kris Barlow, Luke McCabe and Lance Picioane left the club while Nathan Thompson was trade to North Melbourne. His side could only manage five wins in his debut season. Another round of culling and the club bid farewell to Angelo Lekkas, Nick Holland, and traded Jonathan Hay and Nathan Lonie. Clarkson brought to the club delisted footballers Brent Guerra and Stephen Gilham who he knew from his time at Port Adelaide. 2006 saw the side improve, Clarkson showed innovation by restructoring the forwards into a system that came known as "Buddy's box". They won their last four games in a row to finish 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 the Elimination Final, before being eliminated in the Semi Final against North Melbourne.

On Draft day 2007 Clarkson went against his own policy when he recruited recently retired Stuart Dew and youngster Cyril Rioli. Clarkson also introduced a new style of play that became known as the "Clarkson Cluster". Early dominance in the 2008 season lead Hawthorn to announced that Clarkson had signed a contract until the end of 2011. In 2008, Clarkson took the Hawks to second place on the home-and-away ladder, before guiding the team to the premiership with a Grand Final victory against Geelong, a team which had lost only one game during that 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, masked by injuries to key players the Hawks slipped down the ladder to finished ninth in 2009. A poor start to 2010 when the club lost six out 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 helped Clarkson again guided 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 to 200 games. He is the only man to coach the club on 200 consecutive occasions.

After guiding Hawthorn to its 11th Premiership, the club are now actively working towards extending his contract beyond 2014, with club President Andrew Newbold considering him to be the best coach in the competition.

The AFL announced on Wednesday that the IRS would continue in Australia later this year with a one-off Test at Perth's Patersons Stadium on Saturday, November 22 – the first time in the competition's 30-year history that just one game will decide the series winner.

Clarkson will coach the Australian team, for a one-off Test against Ireland in the International Rules at Perth's Patersons Stadium on Saturday, November 22, 2014.[4]

In Round 8, 2014, Clarkson became the equal second longest serving coach of Hawthorn with Allan Jeans when he coached his 221st AFL match against the Sydney Swans.[5]

In May 2014, Clarkson was admitted to hospital after suffering a back injury, which was later diagnosed as Guillain-Barré Syndrome.[6] Assistant coach Brendon Bolton will take his place as interim coach on an indefinite basis.


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.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10]


External links[edit]

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

Succeeded by
Mark Thompson