The Hawthorn Hawks finished just one game outside the top eight in 2019, finishing the season in ninth position on the ladder.
Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall described his back-to-back AFL premiership pep talk as a “very minor thing” on Monday, while the plaudits poured in for Alastair Clarkson.
Hawks coach Clarkson and captain Luke Hodge both paid tribute to Dunstall after the side’s crushing 63-point win over Sydney in Saturday’s grand final.
Dunstall was a key member of the only other Hawks side to win consecutive flags, in 1988-89.
The champion forward presented Clarkson and Hodge with the premiership cup at the MCG, a moment he helped Clarkson’s charges envision a few weeks ago.
“Clarko just thought it’d be nice to get a different perspective from someone who played in our last back-to-back flags,” Dunstall said on Fox Footy.
“To talk about the significance of what it (consecutive premierships) might mean to these players.
“They hadn’t spoken about that throughout the course of the year.
“Perhaps … a little bit of motivation for them, but it was a very minor thing.”
Another Hawthorn icon, Dermott Brereton, said on Fox Footy he had “never been more proud”.
Dunstall, instrumental in Clarkson’s appointment a decade ago in his role as football director, said the three-time premiership coach has “taken the game to new levels”.
“I’ve seen him from what he started (as) to where he is now. The growth has been enormous,” he said.
“I’ve never seen them play better.”
Melbourne coach Paul Roos opined the Hawks’ ruthless demolition of the Swans represented the greatest grand-final performance he had ever seen.
“I don’t think a favourite has been beaten by that much,” Roos told Fox Footy.
“People look at the juggernaut and forget where they were when he took over.
“He was under as much pressure as any of us.
“They were a really poor team … and it’s hard to build a team from scratch.”
The Hawks were on the brink of a merger with Melbourne in 1996, and suffered a major lull when they failed to qualify for the finals from 2002 to 2006.
“Not long ago that our club was on its knees (in 1996),” Clarkson reflected, sitting alongside Dunstall.
“There’s so many people that have got this footy club back to where it is today.”
Clarkson noted he had yet to speak with Brad Sewell about the out-of-contract veteran’s future.
“We’ll sit down with Sewelly over the course of the the next one or two weeks, get his thoughts on what he wants to do,” Clarkson said.
“A lot will depend on what Sewelly wants to do.”
Clarkson said leaving 200-gamer Sewell out of his grand-final side was incredibly tough.
“He’s given us so much. He’s given me so much,” he said.