Alistair Clarkson talks footy at Tigers function
THE most intriguing ex-AFL coach going around had a captive audience at this year’s Torquay Tigers Before the Bounce function.
Former Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson was the main attraction at the event, which drew just on 200 people to the Spring Creek Reserve clubrooms on Saturday ahead of Torquay’s clash with Ocean Grove.
In conversation with Torquay committee member Tim Carson, Clarkson spoke for more than 90 minutes on a range of topics, including his ties to Geelong – his mother was originally from Geelong and is now in a nursing home here, and he regularly fished off the Point Lonsdale pier as a youth – growing up in the far western Victorian town of Kaniva, his brief VFL career with North Melbourne and Melbourne and his much longer AFL coaching career, notably the 15 years he spent in charge at the Hawks and the four premierships they won.
Clarkson left Hawthorn in messy circumstances at the end of the 2021 season and has spent the past six months doing what he called “front office” work in governance and administration in the AFL, including around the proposed Tasmanian team.
He said his focus now was to improve pathways for young football talent in rural areas, as times had changed considerably since he went through the VFL system.
“In a 10-year period, from 1977 to 1987, four players came out of Kaniva [himself, Roger Merrett, Glenn Hawker and John Barnes] – and this is my passion for getting involved in Tasmania – but since 1987, the amount of players that have gone on to play in one game of AFL footy from Kaniva is zero.
“And from Nhill, which is the neighbouring town where my wife is from, that produced Dean Wallace and David Cloke and Jason McCartney in the last 35 years? Zero.
“The next town, Dimboola, which produced Tim Watson and Merv Neagle? Zero.
“These really remote areas right around Australia aren’t getting serviced like they used to.”
Clarkson said he was yet to make a decision about coaching AFL in 2023.
“I’m not walking over hot coals to just jump into a job. If I if I do it again, I want to do it for the right reasons.”