Hi there, fellow Hawkers.

Well, what a roller coaster ride we have experienced over the last two weeks.

Two weeks ago, we were thoroughly thrashed by Fremantle. Last Saturday we had the most wonderfully stirring draw against Melbourne.

17th on the ladder drew with the ladder leaders. After a flaky first quarter the boys applied themselves as though there was no tomorrow. We never gave up, and although our skill and ball handling at times leaves a lot to be desired, their will, determination and persistence carried the day. We all should be immensely proud of their effort.

I will never forget the scribblings of former coach Allan Jeans who wrote before a Grand Final we won, “if you win the tackles, you win the game”.

Such was the case on Saturday when we delivered 81 tackles to Melbourne’s 60.

Remember what our strategy is: to get as many games as possible into the legs of our new younger players. Last week we had ten players under-22 learning what AFL football is all about, learning week on week what it is to be a team player and learning the culture that is Hawthorn.

We are not going to win every game, but we are building towards something special.

Can I turn to another subject? Someone sent me a clip of what Caroline Wilson said on Footy Classified on Monday night. I do not watch the show, and I suspect many of you do not as well.

She made a few incorrect comments and assumptions.

Last week there was a scheduled meeting between coaches Alastair Clarkson, Sam Mitchell, our Head of Football Rob McCartney and Leading Teams Founder Ray McLean.

It is one of several meetings that will take place over this period of transition. These meetings are designed to work out the individual and shared responsibilities between Alastair and Sam as we prepare for the transition at the end of next year’s season.

These meetings are common sense. We would be derelict in our duty if these meetings did not take place. It is a surprise to me that some, including Ms Wilson, are surprised that they are taking place.

Ms Wilson described the meeting as a mediation meeting. Even though she was directly told by our CEO Justin Reeves that this was incorrect. These meetings are and will continue to be a very basic part of planning out our succession plan.

Ms Wilson chose to ignore this truth and continued to refer to it as a mediation meeting.

Let me be very clear, this was a planned meeting, and our players knew it was going to take place. We like to be transparent at Hawthorn and there will be more of these meetings to plan our future.

Ms Wilson also inferred there had been some sort of blow-up between Alastair and Sam. This is also wrong.

Both men have behaved admirably since the announcement. Of course, they are going to have different views on different aspects of the game. This is how good football clubs are developed. Our leaders need to be able to challenge each other. I would expect nothing less. But to characterise a respectful exchange of ideas as a “blow-up” makes clear that not only was she not in the room, she has no idea how or what was discussed.  

Finally, she concluded the segment by saying that I would be happy to pay out Alastair’s contract and have Sam coach next year. This is a complete fabrication. I have always said I want Alastair to complete his contract, not only because at Hawthorn we honour contracts but also because Alastair has said several times publicly, he intends to honour his contract.

I make these comments only to inform you of the truth. As members this is what you are entitled to, the truth.

Some commentators have questioned our succession plan. Many commercial organisations insist their CEOs identify and train people within their organisation to potentially succeed the CEO. It is good practice across the world.

Sam Mitchell came back to the club because Clarko saw in Sam a potential senior coach. We have seen enough of Sam to believe he should be eventually our next senior coach.

Coaching is not easy. It can be a very lonely job. You need to be able to work with many different characters and Presidents. Those skills need refining.

We at Hawthorn are in a good place, with good people. Yes, we are following good governance practices, but those who often sit in judgment, including journalists, have never themselves had the experiences or the responsibility of leading anyone or any business. They are only interested in breaking through the crowd to be noticed, and so much of what they say is coloured, not professionally sourced, or just opinion not based on fact. Matters not to them as they pursue headlines and ratings.

In the meantime, we get on with our job. All of us. For no one of us is more important than the club of which we are part.

Of course, like everything the proof is there for everyone to see, and what we saw last Saturday says to me, collectively, we are on our way.

Stay well, and COVID free. Get vaccinated so we can crawl our way back from these horrible lockdowns.


Jeff Kennett

Hawthorn Football Club