Hawthorn has today announced that Alastair Clarkson will step down as senior coach at the end of the 2021 season.
Clarkson and the club had originally agreed to a succession plan which would see Clarkson hand the coaching reins to incoming senior coach Sam Mitchell at the end of the 2022 season. However, following recent discussions the decision was made for Clarkson to finish as senior coach at the end of this season.
“I have been in this caper for a long period of time and the role of senior coach is an incredibly demanding one,” Clarkson said.
“Over the past three to four weeks I’ve been in ongoing discussions, with players, coaches, the Board. Each time we had these discussions it became clearer that the best thing was to get this bloke (Sam) in the chair and get things going as soon as we possibly could.
“We didn’t want to be a footy club that was treading water for 12 months. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get ourselves back into a position where we are challenging again, and the hard work needs to be now steered by Sam.
“I’m enormously grateful to this footy club for the opportunity to have coached this great club and I could never have imagined that we’d be able to achieve the things we have. Even more precious to Caryn and myself is the relationships we’ve been able to build with the people who are connected to this club.
“The best thing for the football club is I move aside, and I allow Sam to take the baton and create the next chapter in this great football club.
“I’ve had my time in the sun here, it’s been a blast the journey that we’ve had, but it’s my turn to ride off into the sunset and I’m really excited about what the next chapter might bring.”
Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett acknowledged the immense contribution of Clarkson in his time at the club.
“Alastair will always be a significant part of our club and has woven himself and his values into the very fabric of Hawthorn,” Kennett said.
“We thank Alastair for his contribution to Hawthorn and for the way he has handled himself over the past few weeks as we navigated very unfamiliar territory.
“Hawthorn will be forever grateful for what Alastair has done for our club.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to also acknowledge our playing group and the difficult situation recent decisions have put them in. This year we appointed a leadership group with strong convictions to help steer the ship as we embarked on what we knew might be a difficult journey. Our leadership group were not involved in making the decision around a succession plan but in the weeks since have not shied away from raising difficult topics and have been highly proactive in ensuring we as a club make the best decisions for the playing group moving forward.”
Sam Mitchell spoke to the impact Clarkson has had on his journey to date.
“My passion for coaching and the direction my whole life has gone is through the passion Clarko has helped me grow. I’m forever thankful for the position he’s given me and having his blessing.,” Mitchell said.
“The position that I’m in now, I have to say thank you to Clarko and I’m disappointed that we’ve ended up here with a month to go in the season and I hope that we get the opportunity to give Clarko the send-off he deserves. I don’t think this is the right moment to be looking too far into the future, but I have full faith that this club is going to get back on its feet and find our way as we head into the future.
“Clarko always told me that no senior coach is truly ready until you’re in the seat. His belief in me means so much and for that I am forever grateful.”
Alastair Clarkson was appointed as Hawthorn’s senior coach ahead of the 2005 season. In the 17 years since, he has coached a total of 360 games for the brown and gold, including four premierships, and is one of the most decorated senior coaches of all time. Clarkson is the club’s longest serving senior coach whose contribution to both the club and the broader AFL community is one that few will ever match.
Alastair Clarkson will coach out the remaining games of the 2021 season before finishing his time as senior coach of Hawthorn Football Club.