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The coaches' degree of separation  November 10, 2017 2:32 PM

Sewell back at Hawthorn Brad Sewell made a surprise guest appearance at pre-season training.

With a few changes to the club’s coaching department ahead of the 2018 season, Hawthorn has welcomed three new faces to the fold.

Scott Burns and Darren Glass join the Hawks’ ranks as assistant coaches, while Sean Dempster has been employed into a strength and conditioning coaching role.

All three are former superstars of the competition with five All Australian honours, two premiership medallions, eight years of captaincy and over 750 games worth of experience between them.

But despite the trio being recently united in the brown and gold, a closer look into the history would show that each of these men, as well as several other members of Hawthorn’s coaching panel, have crossed paths before (in one way or another!).

You know that old theory about six degrees of separation? Well, it seems our coaching panel is a whole lot closer than that.

Here is a look into how these nine coaches are linked…


Hawthorn Senior Coach Alastair Clarkson played 134 VFL/AFL games. Clarkson played 93 games for North Melbourne over his nine years at Arden Street. He then spent the final two years of his career, 1996 and 1997, at Melbourne where he played 41 games over his two seasons.

In that time, a young Adem Yze was making his mark on the league, having been drafted by the Demons with pick 16 in 1994 national draft.

Yze and Clarkson played 35 games together in the red and blue (19 games in 1996 and 16 in 1997).

15 years later, they would reconvene as coaches at the Hawthorn Football Club and lead the Hawks to four grand finals and three wins over the subsequent four years.

Back to 2004 and Yze had become a renowned star of the competition.

Carlton's Brett Ratten had retired the previous year and wasted no time in entering the coaching system, becoming an assistant coach at Yze’s Demons for two years.

Ratten’s playing career was superb, a 14-year career that delivered 255 games and 117 goals. For 'Ratts', a fixture against the Pies was generally a day out, as he finished his career with more goals against the black and white than any other club.

However, Ratten’s first encounter with the Pies was a forgettable one, as Collingwood ran away 16-point victors led by a dominant display from star ruckman Damian Monkhorst, who had 28 disposals, kicked a goal and earned a career-high eight free kicks.

A member of Collingwood’s 1990 premiership side, ‘Monkey’ was known as one of the league’s best ruckmen throughout his career.

One of the beneficiaries of Monkhorst’s work was Pies star on-baller Scott Burns. Burns and Monkhorst played 65 games together in the black and white during their five-year overlap (18 games in 1995, 15 in 1996, 14 in 1997, 10 in 1998 and 8 in 1999).

After he retired at the end of the 2008 season, Burns headed west to become an assistant coach at the Eagles for the following five years.

It was in 2008 that Darren Glass began his seven-year stint as West Coast club captain. Glass had proven himself as the premier full back of the competition at the time, having been named in the previous two All Australian sides as well as anchoring the 2006 Eagles premiership side.

That year, the Eagles claimed revenge over Sydney after the Swans had snatched victory the previous season.

One member of the Swans’ 2005 starting line up who caused heartbreak to Glass' Eagles was Sean Dempster. That year was one of three seasons Dempster spent in Sydney before being traded to St Kilda at the end of 2007.

A member of the 2010 Saints Grand Final side that drew and then later lost to Collingwood, Dempster is part of a select group of players to have played in three draws, let alone three draws within 12 games. This occurred between Round 17 2010 (against the Hawks) and Round 2 2011 (against the Tigers), with the drawn grand final sandwiched between.

Read: Burgoyne named captain of Australia squad

The third and final of Dempster's draws was against a Chris Newman-captained Tigers outfit. It was the Richmond skipper’s fourth of five career stalemates.

A Tiger great, only eight players have played more games in the yellow and black than Newman. At the end of the 2015 season, Newman announced that it would be his last year.

This exit coincided with Max Bailey’s, who, after an eight-year playing career at the Hawks, had spent two years as a skills coach at the Tigers.

Together, Bailey and Newman headed to Hawthorn, where they have since coached for the last two seasons.

And to complete the circle of life, it was Alastair Clarkson who first gave Bailey his AFL chance at the end of 2005. 

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The Coaches' degree of separation: 


Alastair Clarkson- Senior Coach

Playing career: North (1987-95), Melbourne (1996-1997)

Coaching career: St Kilda (1999), Port Adelaide (2003-04), Hawthorn (2005-now)


Brett Ratten- Assistant Coach

Playing career: Carlton (1990-2003)

Coaching career: Melbourne (2004-05), Carlton (2007-12), Hawthorn (2012-now)


Adem Yze- Assistant Coach

Playing career: Melbourne (1995-2008)

Coaching career: Hawthorn (2012- now)


Darren Glass- Assistant Coach

Playing career: West Coast (2000-14)

Coaching career: Hawthorn (2017-now)


Scott Burns- Assistant Coach

Playing career: Collingwood (1995-08)

Coaching career: West Coast (2009-13), Collingwood (2014-17)


Damian Monkhorst- Ruck Coach

Playing career: Collingwood (1988-99), St Kilda (2000)

Coaching career: Hawthorn (2010- now)


Max Bailey- Development Coach

Playing career: Hawthorn (2006-13)

Coaching career: Richmond (2014-15), Hawthorn (2016-now)


Chris Newman- Box Hill VFL Coach

Playing career: Richmond (2002-15)

Coaching career: Hawthorn (2016-now)


Sean Dempster- Strength and Conditioning Coach

Playing career: Sydney (2005-07), St Kilda (2008-17)

Coaching career: Hawthorn (2017-now)