Alastair Clarkson’s storied run at the helm of Hawthorn will finish at end of next season, with Sam Mitchell to become senior coach in 2023.
Former Hawthorn captain, now assistant coach, Mitchell had been long touted as a senior coach in waiting, while Clarkson’s future with the Hawks has been questioned over the last few years. The club has not won a final since their 2015 premiership triumph and their on-field fortunes have declined rapidly over the last few years.
Mitchell had been heavily linked to the Collingwood coaching vacancy following Nathan Buckley’s resignation, which led to speculation about a potential succession plan at Hawthorn further intensifying when he pulled out.
Clarkson, a former assistant to Mark Williams at Port Adelaide, joined Hawthorn ahead of the 2005 season. He turned the club’s poor form around quickly, guiding them to the finals in 2007 and a shock premiership win in 2008 over a highly-fancied Geelong side.
Underperformance followed, however, including a stunning finals miss the following season and a disappointing elimination final exit in 2010.
Despite a narrow loss in the 2012 decider, colourful Hawks president Jeff Kennett publicly suggested Clarkson should depart midway through the 2013 season, before Hawthorn went on an imperious run of three consecutive premiership wins.
They finished in the top four in 2016 too, but their quest for a fourth straight flag was ended after they lost in straight sets.
Mitchell made his debut in 2002 under previous Hawks coach Peter Schwab, but blossomed under Clarkson’s reign.
His 307 games for the club included four premierships (one as captain), five best and fairest awards and (retrospectively) the 2012 Brownlow medal.
He played one season for West Coast in 2017, before retiring, and was an assistant coach with the Eagles for their 2018 premiership triumph before rejoining the Hawks as an assistant.