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Back to the future: Clarkson gets band back together in hopes of recreating success

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25th November, 2022

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson is getting the band back together. The four-time premiership coach has brought people on board who helped him win premierships in the past at Hawthorn.

When first approached by North Melbourne, Clarkson sought to bring good friend and former colleague at Hawthorn, Todd Viney along for the ride. Just as he did when he first got the job at Hawthorn. Clarkson brought him on board at the Hawks where Viney was an assistant coach from 2005 to the end of 2008, including the Hawks’ 2008 premiership victory.

After successfully bringing on board Viney as the new General Manager of Football at North Melbourne, the newly appointed coach thought about who else could join him at the North Melbourne Football Club.

The latest additions to the coaching band are former Carlton and St Kilda Coach Brett Ratten and former Hawthorn ruck coach Damian Monkhorst.

Both worked as assistant coaches at Hawthorn under Clarkson during Hawthorn’s successful three-peat.

Just six weeks after his shock sacking from St Kilda, Ratten was thrown a lifeline from his former boss and has already began having an immediate impact. The former Carlton midfielder was a star of the competition in his playing days and is known for his ability to build positive relationships with players.

Having commenced in his new role at the Roos this week, Ratten is having an immediate impact guiding North Melbourne’s midfield brigade in a part-time capacity.

Monkhorst, who played for Collingwood, was known as one of the league’s best and toughest ruckmen to play against.

From the start of 2010, he worked under Clarkson as Hawthorn’s head ruck coach. He had great success in this role where he mentored premiership ruckmen David Hale and Ben McEvoy as part of the Hawks’ three-peat.

It’s clear Clarkson is putting his jigsaw pieces of success together.

And it’s not just in the coaching ranks where Clarkson is reuniting with people from the brown and gold fraternity, but also on the playing field.

Hawks veteran and three-time premiership star Liam Shiels retired recently, but his retirement was short-lived as he is joining his former mentor at the Kangaroos. Shiels played under Clarkson for pretty much all his AFL career, except this year where he was coached by former premiership teammate Sam Mitchell.

Sam Mitchell addresses his Hawthorn players.

(Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

It was a disappointing year for the Hawks legend, who was relegated to VFL affiliate side Box Hill for large parts of the season as Mitchell prioritised getting game time into the young Hawks brigade.

Shiels will help guide the on-field North Melbourne brigade, being experienced with Clarkson’s methods and coaching style.

Albert Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Of course, just because they had success in the past, does not necessarily mean they will have success in the future. We’ve seen many times throughout history that success may not repeat itself despite having the same people in place.

However, on the flip side, one could also argue if it’s worked so well in the past, does that mean genius is doing the same thing and expecting the same result?

If it is, then the Kangaroos might just be on to something with Clarko and co at the helm. And it explains why many consider him a ‘genius’ and the greatest coach of modern times.