K rock Football

Clarko set for early departure

Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

LEGENDARY coach Alastair Clarkson will reportedly depart Hawthorn by the end of the AFL season, a year earlier than originally planned.

The Age reported on Friday the club had agreed to part ways with their four-time premiership coach, with Clarkson set to receive a full payout.

It comes a week after Clarkson delivered an impassioned press conference emphasising his commitment to coaching the Hawks through 2022 as part of a succession plan with Sam Mitchell.

“I’ll see through my commitment. I’ve always been that way. Once you make a commitment to someone you follow it through to the end,” Clarkson said last Friday.

“My commitment to Sam Mitchell is through to the end of next year.”

Mitchell pulled out of the running for Collingwood’s senior coach vacancy ahead of the succession plan – Clarkson would see out 2021 and 2022 and Mitchell taking the reins proper in 2023 – announced on July 6.

Both Clarkson and Mitchell had actively denied reports of a rift since the announcement.

“I probably shouldn’t say it on radio, but I kind of get a bit pissed off with people saying that,” Mitchell told SEN last Wednesday

“I’ve worked with Clarko for nearly 20 years and the fact that people would say that I’m trying to push him out is disrespectful to both of us because we’ve had a working relationship for such a long period of time.

“I did get a little bit frustrated with people saying, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to get Clarkson out’.

“If I wanted to coach next year I would’ve continued to pursue the Collingwood opportunity … so every piece of evidence says that isn’t true.”

But the report said a group of senior players had told football director Richie Vandenberg and chief executive Justin Reeves on Wednesday the Mitchell-Clarkson situation was “untenable”,

That reportedly prompted a conversation between Vandenberg and Clarkson, where they agreed to part ways.

Clarkson’s next step is unclear but he has previously been linked to the vacant Collingwood coaching position, while he could tempt Carlton to make a call on under-fire coach David Teague, amid the Blues’ external review into their football department.

After taking the reins at Hawthorn in 2005, Clarkson coached the Hawks to the 2008 premiership, then a three-peat between 2013 and 2015, with Mitchell playing in all four flags.

Clarkson’s Friday morning press conference was postponed.

(C) AAP 2021