Clarkson to sit out 2022 after Hawthorn exit

1 month ago 17
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Alastair Clarkson says he will take a break from coaching next year after confirming that he will be leaving Hawthorn at the end of the season.

Flanked by the man who will be replacing him as Hawthorn's senior coach, Sam Mitchell, the four-time premiership winner stated that he and the club had come together and reached a conclusion that "the club needs some fresh air".

"There have been a lot of discussions and perhaps the reason why this has all been a little bit messy in terms of not being able to control it to the outside footy world is we've had ongoing discussions for the best of three or four weeks with Mitchell, our players, our board, our footy sub-committee, our families," he said.

"We've come to the realisation that this footy club needed some fresh air from 2022 onwards.

"Our footy club hasn't performed anywhere near to the level we'd have liked for a heap of reasons and I'm a key contributor to that of course. It's my view that the footy club needs to free itself of my shadow."

Alastair Clarkson said he wanted to 'take a breath' over the next 12 months before deciding his future (Getty)

There has been mass speculation over whether Clarkson would take over at a rival club in 2022, but the 53-year-old stated his current plan was to "take a breather".

"Right at the present time, my commitment is to have a spell and see where 2023 will take me," he said.

"I want to take a breath and see what the next chapter has for me."

Clarkson admitted that since Hawthorn had initially announced the succession plan between he and Mitchell, he had approached senior players, including captain Ben McEvoy, about whether it was the right move.

"Each time we had those discussions we all realised that the best thing was to get [Mitchell] into the chair and get going," he said.

"We didn't want to be a footy club that treaded water for 12 months. We've got a lot of hard work to do as a club to get ourselves back into a position where we can perform again. That hard work now needs to be steered by [Mitchell]."

Hawthorn captain Ben McEvoy was one of a number of senior players consulted over the succession plan (Getty)

Clarkson stated he believed the succession plan would have proved difficult to manage in 2022, adding that he wanted to preserve the strong relationship he currently has with Mitchell by stepping down a year earlier.

"I'm of the firm belief that there's only one coach who can steer the direction of a footy club and I felt like I wasn't able to control the environment well enough that'd mean it would make it very difficult for Mitch and the footy club in 2022," he said.

"I could only see that next year might make that more difficult for Sam and I. We've had some difficult conversations over the last little while just trying to figure out how we can make this work.

"What it all came back to was making sure that my relationship with the Mitchell family and the Mitchell family's relationship with the Clarkson family – that first and foremost was the most critical thing that we wanted to retain out of all of this."

Sam Mitchell says he only has his current position because of the presence of Alastair Clarkson (Getty)

Mitchell paid tribute to his long-time coach, calling it a "really strange day" and said he hoped that Clarkson's contributions to the club would be honoured with a statue, as legendary Hawks coach John Kennedy has at Waverley Park.

"I look over there at the players and everyone's made the same level of eye contact, with disappointment and sadness, especially for this guy who's done so much for me," he said.

"I don't want to get too soppy about it but … my passion for coaching and the direction my whole life has gone is through the passion that he's helped me grow.

"I'm forever thankful for the position he's given me and having his blessing. The position that I'm in now I've got to say thank you to Clarko.

"I'm disappointed that we all end up here with a month to go and I hope we have the opportunity over the month to give Clarko what he deserves."

Clarkson will coach Hawthorn in its final four matches of the season, starting with Sunday afternoon's Round 20 clash against the Brisbane Lions in Tasmania.

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