ALASTAIR Clarkson has clarified his recent remarks about James Hird
, saying he was using the suspended Essendon coach as an example of how the football industry could better prepare coaches for the demands of the job.
Speaking at the Ricoh Centre on Wednesday, the Hawthorn coach said senior AFL coaching was more demanding that when he started 10 years ago and the sport had to get better at laying successful foundations for current and prospective coaches.
"I know I made some references to the Essendon saga but it's just been such a big part of our game for the last 12 months," he said. "It hasn't been Essendon in particular, but more how can we prepare any coach because it's such a demanding role."
Clarkson, who addressed the AFL Commission on Monday, said the way forward might involve some sort of accreditation, or experience coaching a team in its own right, or even a combination of both.
Drawing on his own career, Clarkson said the years spent coaching in his own right with Werribee and Central Districts, which were followed by two years as an assistant with Port Adelaide, had been key.
"It's a big, big call to say everyone should have two years of coaching their own side. That's restraint of trade in a sense if a club wants to go and appoint someone.
"But I reckon some sort of accreditation and exposure to coaching their own side, where you have to make your own decisions, which I know is microscopic (compared) to coaching an AFL side, but the preparation and the readiness for coaching an AFL side is absolutely first class."
"I think we can do some things better," he continued. "Some clubs take a long, long time to overcome the trauma of exiting a contracted coach much more prematurely than they thought."
Clarkson is now an elder statesman of the AFL coaching fraternity, the only coach still occupying the same role as he did in 2009. He said he felt great empathy for Michael Voss, who finished up with the Brisbane Lions after five years as coach before his 40th birthday.
"If we can somehow give some serious thought as to how we best prepare our coaches for success when they do finally get into that role, then that will be good for the game," he said.
And he said his beef wasn't with James Hird, although he understood why he was subject to a terse rebuttal from Bomber chairman Paul Little on Tuesday.
"The boxing gloves are going to be on. I knew that would be the response from the Bombers it in a sense, but we had to illustrate the deeper point and the deeper point is how to we educate our senior coaches better.
"It's not so much about Essendon or James Hird, but it's just used as an illustration of how an issue that ambushed our game and had we had some measures in place that could have been a little bit stronger in terms of preparation of the coach, maybe we would have all been in a place to have more success and be better prepared," he said.
Clarkson was speaking at the launch of Playing to Win, Michael Gordon's fly-on-the-wall account of the past five years, which culminated in the Grand Final win over Fremantle last year.
The book looks at the setbacks experienced by the Hawks since their 2008 premiership, the lessons learned and the at-times unorthodox solutions taken by Clarkson and his coaching staff.
The book digresses at times, looking at the close relationship between Clarkson and Allan Jeans in the time before the legendary coach passed away in 2011, and also the recruitment of Amos Frank from the remote APY Lands in South Australia.
Playing to Win, The Inside Story of Premiership Glory, by Michael Gordon, published by the Slattery Media Group. $29.95 plus P&H. Available exclusively at Hawthorn Football Club. Visit HawksNest, Waverley Park – Monday to Friday 9am til 5pm and Saturdays 9am till midday or via www.hawksnestonline.com.au