ALASTAIR Clarkson's 387th match as coach of Hawthorn was one of his finest, an unexpected win against premiership aspirant Brisbane in Launceston after a week of unprecedented personal and club turmoil. But it should be his last.
There is simply no point in Clarkson coaching the final three matches of this disastrous Hawks season, given his club has made it clear it doesn't want him, and given that he, clearly after his backroom manoeuvrings last week, doesn't want to be there under those circumstances.
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett and others around him have regularly arrogantly looked down at other clubs who have imploded with botched coaching arrangements. And here the Hawks are at round 20, 2021, having overseen the most shambolic of succession plans, and now faced with having to absorb a "dead" $1 million in their coaching soft cap, prepared to tolerate the facade of continuing a horrendously and hurtfully broken marriage.
It is an unnecessary prolonging of a relationship which is dead, and no one involved in the intricate machinations that arrived at replacing Clarkson with Sam Mitchell as coach can ever be satisfied with how it has been managed, Clarkson and Mitchell included.
Clarkson may speak the truth every single time when he's addressing his players, but he has been very economical with that same commodity when talking publicly throughout his 17 seasons as Hawks coach. Two Fridays ago, he punchily and unequivocally publicly stated he would see out his 2022 contract, that his word was his bond and that contracts were arrangements he didn't seek to break. He even volunteered personal tragedies to emphasise that point.
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Yet by last Friday, after managing to secure an undertaking from the Hawks to have his 2022 contract paid out, he had determined he had to get out and that Mitchell and the Hawks needed fresh air. He's not the only person in football to say only what he feels needs to be said at any given point in time, but there has never been a more stark change in public position than Clarkson between the past two Fridays.
Clarkson's relationships with Kennett and Hawks CEO Justin Reeves, who Kennett has re-contracted until the end of 2026, were toxic even before the past month.
Under Kennett's watch, this club has returned itself to the turmoil of 2004. Use-by dates and tenures of people in business and football have long been a favourite topic of Kennett. Except when it involves his own situation. Having served an initial stint as Hawks boss from 2006-11, he sought to become president of Melbourne Football Club in 2013. Just absorb that for a moment. When that didn't eventuate, he decided, in 2017, to overthrow Richard Garvey as Hawthorn president after becoming concerned at the "mess" being created.
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He was only staying for one term, he said, to fix that mess. When that one term expired, at the end of 2020, lo and behold, Kennett sought another term. What a surprise. And what a mess he has personally created in the first year of that extra term. As Clarkson jokingly but also pointedly said on the day he announced the Clarkson-Mitchell arrangement, Kennett had to return to "get" him. Kennett should follow Clarkson out the Hawks' door to further clean the badly polluted Hawthorn air.