A Hawks fan’s take on Clarkson going to North

There’s no more loyal standing in the AFL than the fanbases who pour time, money and emotional investment into their clubs.

As the fallout at Essendon rages on and the joy of North Melbourne fans is palpable from Arden Street to Mildura, this Hawthorn fan’s bemusement is residing within the fanbase of the club Alastair Clarkson was fired from in 2021.

The Hawthorn-Essendon rivalry reared again when the media-driven possibility of a Clarko to Bombers move was on the cards (but was it though?) and fans felt a pit of anguish as the 1980s rivalry looked to be reborn with the master coach going to the enemy (well, one enemy, considering it seems Chris Scott has tenure).

2008 premiership player Campbell Brown claimed the relationship he has with Clarko would be terminated if he went to The Hangar and Dermott Brereton revealed there was video evidence that Clarko hated the place (as all good Hawthorn people should).

However, where a lot of Hawks fans fall over is yes, good Hawthorn people should detest the Bombers, Clarko isn’t a Hawk anymore, for better or worse. As much as an Essendon hiring might’ve caused some real distaste, the great man doesn’t owe anyone anything.

Personally, I’ve got everything to thank Clarko for given the first Hawks match I remember watching was Round 1, 2005 against Sydney. The result was not a good one but I was hooked and until 2022, every season for the Hawks had a Clarko flavour.

The 2008 grand final is my favourite experience of all time. 2014 was the ultimate revenge, and 13/15 were further proof that my teen years would be amongst the most dominant period in Hawthorn history and modern football history.

As the announcement came through that North would acquire Clarko for the next half-decade, there was an instinctual and unique twang as the strange rush of “he will coach against us” hit, before the excitement for North fans kicked in.

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

If Jason Horne-Francis stays (which he should given his new coach), a midfield of a second-year JHF, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Jy Simpkin and Ben Cunnington is a good starting block, with Ben McKay a star down back, Nick Larkey is a good forward, Tristan Xerri broke out in the ruck before injury and Bailey Scott has been an under-the-radar-style of good down back.

For sure, North still have a long list of “what are you” players (Jack Mahony, Jaidyn Stephenson, Curtis Taylor, Aiden Bonar, Callum Coleman-Jones, Tom Powell) and some developing youth but that’s what Clarko can do.

It’s not going to be an overnight fix and anyone thinking it will be is ridiculous but if anyone can, Clarko can. Unlike from 2016-19, Clarko’s going to need to use his first-round draft picks and start at the bottom.

With the likelihood of pick 19 coming North’s way, their draft haul of 1, 19 and 38 as a first three picks isn’t ideal and shopping will need to be done. Whether it’s Cal Twomey’s suggestion and break down pick 1 to get an Aaron Cadman and Jedd Busslinger and build the spine or trade pick 19 for another two picks from 22-32.

Clarko could be bringing some players over so North’s off-season is about to be really exciting and for all of us Hawks fans, we wish Clarko well. He’s given us fans more than any club has had since his arrival and his next adventure will forever be an incredibly curious observation.

Imagine if Hawthorn and North played off in a final in 2026, for example. Clarko versus Sam. Is anyone else’s mouth starting to water?

All the best Clarko and thanks for everything. Just don’t beat the Hawks or win a flag before we do.

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