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'Very strange beast' Clarkson signs new deal

How the Hawks made the ladder a lie The highs and lows of Hawthorn's season in The Wash-Up
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has extended until the end of 2022 - AFL,Hawthorn Hawks,Alastair Clarkson,Contracts
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has extended until the end of 2022

HAWTHORN'S most successful coach Alastair Clarkson has signed a three-year contract extension to remain at the Hawks through the 2022 season.

Clarkson, who was already contracted for next year, will have been in charge of Hawthorn for 18 seasons once he completes this latest deal. 

It was long speculated that the four-time premiership mentor, who was in charge for the 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015 flags, would re-commit before the 2019 season and that is now a reality. 

Hawks president – and Clarkson's sometime sparring partner – Jeff Kennett announced the master coach's re-signing at the Peter Crimmins Medal function at Crown Palladium on Saturday night. 

"Coaches, including this one standing in front of you, are pretty rare beasts, very strange beasts, very competitive beasts and very difficult to manage beasts," Clarkson said.

"I'm one of them – I acknowledge that – and what Jeff says about the lifespan of an AFL coach (being) between six and eight years, he's probably right. 

"It's very easy with ego and success to put coaches, players, whatever on a pedestal, but that's never been our way at this footy club – and it continues not to be that way. 

"We've got a footy subcommittee that doesn't allow a coach, player, administrator or anyone else to take charge of the football club. We've always had a shared, family decision-making model. 

"So thanks to those guys who keep our club stable and steady and keep us aligned to our values at different stages in this very hard game and in this very hard life at different stages.

"The reason why it's so easy to accept the enormously attractive offer by the club to continue to be involved in this club is I've got genuine belief in the club and its direction and genuine belief in this group of (players) that we can do something special again."

Clarkson is already considered arguably Hawthorn's greatest-ever coach, alongside VFL/AFL legend John Kennedy snr, who steered the club to its first three premierships in 1961, 1971 and 1976. 

He lifted the Hawks from second-from-bottom in 2004, the season before his appointment, to a flag only four years later. 

Their premiership three-peat between 2013 and 2015 came during a period they played in seven consecutive finals series before it narrowly ended last year. 

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Clarkson steered Hawthorn back to the finals in 2018, two years after an aggressive recruiting strategy that netted Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O'Meara.

The 50-year-old's coaching record includes 205 victories and two draws from 329 matches at an incredible winning percentage of 62.3 across 14 seasons. 

He also became the longest-serving coach in the club's history this year, surpassing Kennedy snr's 299 games. 

Hawks chief executive Justin Reeves said re-signing Clarkson was never in doubt.

"Alastair's re-signing is a credit to the incredible coach and person that he is and is a reflection of the stability and ambition of our club," Reeves said.

"His passion, loyalty and fierce competitiveness continues to drive our entire football club in pursuit of our 14th premiership.

"We know Alastair is the right person to help us achieve further success and we are very fortunate to have him continue his career with the Hawks." 

Clarkson will have a relatively new-look staff under him next year. 

Box Hill premiership coach Chris Newman is stepping up to be a Hawks assistant, while club great Sam Mitchell is set to return from West Coast in the same role.