Hawks reveal Clarkson-Mitchell succession plan
Alastair Clarkson's incredible reign as coach of Hawthorn will come to an end following the 2022 season, former Hawks premiership captain Sam Mitchell to assume the role in 2023 as part of a succession plan revealed on Tuesday.
Clarkson's contract will not be renewed beyond his current tenure, the four time premiership coach having been at the helm since the start of the 2005 season.
The 53 year old has coached Hawthorn for 383 games for a win loss success rate of 59%, having coached the club to ultimate glory in 2008 before a three-peat from 2013 to 2015 in a golden era in the club's history.
Mitchell has been earmarked for the Hawks coaching position ever since he returned from a two year stint at the West Coast Eagles as a player turned assistant coach, playing one season in 2017 before being in charge of the club's midfield in their premiership year of 2018.
Mitchell is currently head of development and senior coach of Hawthorn's affiliate side Box Hill Hawks, a position he will continue to hold until he takes over from his former coach in 2023.
Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett sent a letter to members outlining the plans to hand the reins over to Mitchell from Clarkson in 2023.
"About three weeks ago our coach, Alastair Clarkson, approached his direct report and head of football Rob McCartney, and suggested that, given what had occurred at Collingwood, maybe the time had arrived when we at Hawthorn should consider the club's position regarding our future coaching needs," Kennett wrote.
Kennett also said the club put emotion to the side in making the decision to move on from Clarkson.
“It is the responsibility of your Board to plan and structure the transition of personnel within the club. These transitions must take place and should always occur as naturally and as orderly as possible. We at Hawthorn are doing that now," he said.
“Alastair has served us well in his time at Hawthorn, but we must put our emotions into second place and make the tough but right calls for our club’s future.”
Clarkson said he understood the decision and that the board had the best interests of the club at heart.
“Understanding nothing lasts forever, the decision to finish my time at Hawthorn at the end of my current contract was the best path forward for the club long-term,” Clarkson said.
“We are all temporary custodians of the brown and gold, and we do our best to serve the colours well during our tenure. I am proud of what we have achieved as a club over the past 17 years.
“At the end of last year, we made a decision to lay the foundations for the next wave of success at Hawthorn.
That work has already begun, we are beginning to see glimmers of what the future Hawthorn side will look like, and I am committed to playing my part in continuing this work until the end of next season.
“My philosophy has always been to give my assistant coaches the responsibilities and opportunities they need to achieve their career aspirations. Sam is on this journey and the period of transition between Sam and I provides further opportunity for him to develop as he prepares to step into the senior coach role.”
Mitchell turned down the opportunity to interview for the Collingwood position on Monday, leading to speculation a succession plan was in place at the Hawks.
The former skipper and 307 game player in brown and gold was excited by the opportunity.
“I am looking forward to continuing my work in developing our young crop of players and coaching the Box Hill side over the next 18 months,” Mitchell said.
“Development is an area of football that I am incredibly passionate about and I am confident that over the next 18 months we will continue to see more and more of what our young players are capable of.”
Hawthorn face Fremantle at UTAS Stadium in Launceston on Sunday.
IMAGE: The Australian.