Alastair Clarkson had a few balls in the air at the time he was interviewing for the senior coaching position at Hawthorn in 2004.

Working under Mark Williams at Port Adelaide at the time, the Power, after three consecutive years as minor premier, had finally won its qualifying final to send the club straight through to a preliminary final.

The club finally had its chance at some elusive premiership glory.

It also simultaneously had an assistant coach who was hungry at a chance of a top job – and there was one on offer at Hawthorn.

But that coach-in-waiting, who was highly-touted after stints with Werribee in the VFL and Central Districts in the SANFL, had his doubts about applying for the Hawks gig.

"I remember going through the interview process and Hawthorn had historically gone with Hawthorn people to be their coach and I remember thinking if they continue to go down that line then I'm no chance,” Clarkson told Mark Howard on the Hawthorn’s Heavy Hitters podcast.

“If they open this up to explore what else might be out there then I'll give myself a chance.

"But I didn't think I could ever compete with a Gary Ayres, Rocket Eade, Terry Wallace type.

"But, in their wisdom at the time, Hawthorn said we need to explore what else is out there and let's open it up to all candidates.” 

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As the stress of this process grew and Port Adelaide’s long-awaited preliminary final neared, Clarkson’s wife Caryn was also closing in on her due date with the couple’s third child.

On September 8 2004, Clarkson was announced as the man to take over the reins of a then-struggling brown and gold outfit.

"I can remember being in the depths of the Port Adelaide football facility when the call came through from Jason Dunstall,” Clarkson told the podcast.

"He said, 'you've been appointed, mate, can you come across now?'" 

A trait that Hawthorn fans have since become accustomed to, Clarkson faced the challenge head-on, managing to continue to juggle those balls while satisfying the requirements of a newly-appointed senior coach.

"The club was very unstable at the time with boardroom tension - we had no CEO, no coach and we'd just come off a really poor year.

"I remember arriving at Glenferrie Oval amidst media throngs which was just so interested in trying to work out what the direction of Hawthorn was going to be.

"It was a particularly challenging time for my wife Caryn and myself because I was on a plane at different stages toing and froing from Melbourne, trying to work out where in all this time was this baby going to drop!

"But my wife said 'I'm not going to have this child until things are settled’ and somehow she hung on till all the press conferences were out of the way and I got back to Adelaide and lo and behold our third child was born!”

Listen to the entire third episode of Hawthorn’s Heavy Hitters below, or search and subscribe to Hawthorn's Heavy Hitters on your chosen podcast provider. Enjoy!

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