Main content

A lofty milestone for Clarko

Some of Clarko's great mates from over his football career shared some interesting stories about the Hawks coach ahead of his 300th game last year. Alastair Clarkson has been a footballer, teacher and senior coach amongst many other things, so it goes without saying that his mates will have a few funny stories to tell about the 300 game coach.

Hawks Coach Alastair Clarkson is set to step out for his 450th combined AFL game on Saturday as Hawthorn face Port Adelaide in Launceston.

Clarkson, who has become the club's greatest ever coach after steering the Hawks to one of their most successful eras, reaches the milestone after 134 games as player and 315 as coach.

Originally recruited by North Melbourne, Clarkson made his debut at the highest level in 1987 before going on to play 93 games across nine seasons with the club, positioned predominantly across half forward and through the midfield.

Seeking greater opportunity, Clarkson was traded to Melbourne at the end of 1995 and became a permanent fixture in the team across two seasons before retiring at the end of 1997.

Clarkson became involved in coaching shortly after his retirement, becoming an assistant to Tim Watson at St Kilda in 1999, before taking on senior coaching roles of his own at VFL and SANFL level.

In 2003, Clarkson returned to the AFL’s assistant coaching ranks, joining Port Adelaide for two seasons before being appointed the senior coach of Hawthorn just weeks before the Power went on to win their first AFL premiership.

Read: 'Plough' an AFL Hall of Famer

The now 50-year-old led a resurgence up the ladder as the Hawks went from 15th in 2004 to winning the club’s first final in six years in 2007, with a thrilling three-point elimination final victory over Adelaide.

2008 however saw Clarkson introduce the infamous ‘cluster’ zone defence and the Hawks went through the first nine rounds of the season undefeated before finishing the season in second spot.

The Hawks would win through to the grand final against heavy favourites Geelong, with Clarkson coaching the Hawks to an incredible 26-point upset and the club’s first flag in 17 years.

After missing the finals the following season, the master coach would again lead the Hawks up the ladder, with the side falling short of a place in the 2011 grand final by just three points, before suffering heartbreak in 2012, losing the decider by 10 points to the Swans.

But in 2013, the Hawks finished atop the AFL ladder and this time managed to clinch the AFL’s biggest prize, with Clarkson finally securing a second premiership. He then guided the Hawks to three successive flags – something never before achieved in the club’s history – with ensuing grand final wins over Sydney (63 points) and West Coast (46).

Named All-Australian coach in all four of his premiership seasons, Clarkson has eclipsed legendary Hawthorn figures Allan Jeans (three premierships) and John Kennedy Sr (three) to become arguably the most successful coach in the club’s history and in 2017 he also became the club’s longest serving coach.

While still some way behind Keven Sheedy, who holds the record for the most games played and coached with 929, Clarkson’s 450th game only adds to a footballing legacy that continues to grow.  

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs