ALASTAIR CLARKSON has been Senior Coach at Hawthorn since 2005, after having played 93 Games and kicked 61 Goals at the North Melbourne Kangaroos from 1987 to 1995, and then 41 Games and 24 Goals for the Melbourne Demons in 1996-1997. There were a number of afl trading cards issued during his career, and they can be found at qualityafltradingcards.com.
Clarkson was recruited by the Kangaroos from Kaniva (VIC), and proved to be quite a handy player, particularly in the role as a strong and aggressive half forward, who put lots of tackling pressure on opposition defenders. North Melbourne were a powerhouse unit through this period , and it was evident to Clarkson when he was appointed Roos Reserves Team Captain in 1995, that his opportunities at League Level were going to be limited.
The Melbourne Demons sought out Clarkson for Season 1996 , where he proved to be a resounding success as a determined, committed, rugged on-ball player. He was successful in tagging the best opposition players extremely effectively, whilst winning many contests out of the centre , and being a prolific possession-winner in the process.
Alastair Clarkson had enjoyed two outstanding seasons at Melbourne , prior to his decision to join the Coaching ranks, which seemed a natural and logical progression from his qualification in the Teaching Profession. His first Coaching Roles were as an Assistant Coach at St Kilda and Senior Coach at the Werribee VFL Club. Then followed the Senior Coaches job at Central Districts in the SANFL, and the Assistant Coaches role at the Port Power, under Mark Williams. It was during these coaching stints that Clarkson was demonstrating the integral qualities required to be a Senior Coach at AFL level.
Late in the 2004 Season , and busily working with his fellow Port Power Coaches and Players towards the upcoming Finals Campaign, there was breaking news that the Hawthorn Hawks had appointed Alastair Clarkson as its Senior Coach for the following 2005 Season. It was at this point that Port Power Coach, Mark Williams stood Clarkson down from any further involvement with the Power Team.
Alastair Clarkson took over the reins at the Hawks, and there appeared to be issues from the beginning , when it was stated that his appointment was not a unanimous decision by the Hawthorn hierarchy. This fact further ignited the fire in Clarkson’s belly, and he was renowned for performing at his best when addressing a full-on confrontation.
Clarkson strategically developed a Team that was quite diverse in Player make-up, including evergreen Crawford, under-rated Defenders Croad, Birchall, Murphy, etc, the Highly skilled and widely versatile Luke Hodge, prolific ball-winners Mitchell and Sewell, and to top this lot off, there were tall Forward Targets Buddy Franklin and Roughead. The major obstacle that the Hawthorn Team faced during this development phase was to brew a winning cocktail to defeat the rampaging Geelong Cats who were dominating the AFL Competition.
Alastair Clarkson is considered to have developed a potent Hawthorn Team , which it is believed put particular emphasis on the following aspects of Australian Football- (1)- defenders were instructed to maintain possession around their defensive arc, if pin-point distribution could not be effected, or the quick release to a running on-baller was unavailable, (2)- when the opposing team had possession deep in defence , Hawthorn players set up on the Boundary- side of their opponents to coerce play towards the Centre corridor, to pressure turn-overs and allow the Hawks to take advantage of the short way home to their key Forwards , (3)- Free- running backs and centreline players looked to centre the ball into the strong Hawks Forward line at every possible opportunity, prior to defences being able to be set up, (4)- Kicking efficiency was pivotal, with Hawthorn players mastering the very precise art in effective disposals by foot to a team-mate, (5)- Fierce tackling pressure on opponents with or near the ball, (6)- The predominance of Left-Footers in the Hawthorn Team , who were all long and accurate in their disposal to Team-mates , also threw a different perspective on opposition players defensive methods.
Alastair Clarkson performed a miracle with his Team to defeat the seemingly invincible Geelong Cats to win the 2008 Premiership, thus proving that he could be a Master Tactician as a Senior Coach. The Hawthorn Team also enjoyed some strong elements of luck in their Premiership Year, and unfortunately their 2009 season was de-railed by a copious number of serious and season-ending injuries for a number of their key players.
Year 2010 has already presented a number of headaches for the Club Coaches with Player injuries, and should Lady Luck be somewhat kinder for the Season proper, there could be a resurgent Hawks outfit in the Finals Series again, so beware of the feisty strategist, Alastair Clarkson.
( Image courtesy of abc.net.au ).