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The Roar


AFL News: Clarkson comeback is on as Mitchell denies deliberate omission in speech, Pies to smash record, Georgiades in demand

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30th June, 2023

Alastair Clarkson will ease back into work at North Melbourne, reclaiming the coaching reins from Brett Ratten before the end of the AFL season.

The four-time Hawthorn premiership coach will initially focus on game analysis and won’t be part of the Kangaroos match day set-up.

Former Carlton and St Kilda mentor Ratten will remain as senior coach until Clarkson is ready to take charge again, likely to be sometime during the next month.

The 55-year-old Clarkson has been away from the club since May 18 due to the mental toll of the Hawthorn racism saga.

The AFL has since announced no adverse findings against Clarkson, Chris Fagan or Jason Burt over the allegations levelled at the former Hawks trio.

Alastair Clarkson poses for a photo.

Alastair Clarkson. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

The three men have denied any wrongdoing over the claims, which were raised via an ABC report last September.

North president Sonja Hood lauded Clarkson’s decision to focus on his mental health and looked forward to welcoming him back at Arden St.


“We are pleased that Alastair has been able to get the support he needs to return to the club and work towards doing what he loves most and does best – coach the team,” Dr Hood said.

“We’ve had some really good dialogue with Alastair and we’re all comfortable he’s ready to make a return into the football department ahead of getting back in the senior coach’s chair later this season.

“In the meantime, Brett Ratten and the rest of the coaching group will continue to lead and develop the playing group.

“It’s also really important to acknowledge the work Brett, Todd Viney and the rest of the footy department have done in Alastair’s absence so that his return will be as smooth as possible.”

Clarkson will avoid North’s round-18 game against Hawthorn due to simmering tensions with his former club.

A week before taking leave, Clarkson slammed Hawthorn as “shameful”, calling for an investigation into the club’s handling of the long-running racism saga, saying reputations had been “scarred”.

Hawthorn are now coached by Sam Mitchell, the Hawks’ captain during Clarkson’s first premiership with the club in 2008.


When being inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, Mitchell made no mention of his coach of 12 seasons during a lengthy acceptance speech.

When asked on Friday whether Clarkson’s omission from his speech was a conscious decision, Mitchell told reporters: “No, I was surprised it came up actually.

“I mean, I thanked my coaches in general.

“There’s so many people that help you achieve things and whether it’s the first coach you have as an under-10s kid or the coach you had for 14 years, I think all of those people help you enormously.

“And I tried not to get too individual in my speech at all and was surprised it got picked up.”

Mitchell’s autobiography detailed how the pair had to meet and thrash out some differences in late 2011 when he was a star Hawthorn player.


He later departed for West Coast at the end of 2016, playing for one season before coaching the Eagles’ midfield in their 2018 premiership.

Mitchell returned to the Hawks at the end of 2018 and originally was supposed to take over from Clarkson at Hawthorn in a coaching succession plan.

But that plan spectacularly fell apart and Clarkson left the Hawks a year early in late 2021 before joining North Melbourne last year.

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Collingwood army in full flight for clash with Suns

Collingwood coach Craig McRae could only laugh in awe as thousands of Magpies fans turned out for a mundane training session in June.


The ladder-leaders are the AFL’s biggest team, with Saturday’s clash against Gold Coast at Heritage Bank Stadium already sold out. Expectations are the Suns will break their home attendance record at the Carrara venue, set in 2014, in a match that could shape their finals destiny.

McRae is hoping Magpies supporters will outnumber the Gold Coast faithfuls in the stands.

Car parks were full and there was not a spare spot on the sidelines to watch training as Collingwood trained at their AIA Centre headquarters on Friday.

“It’s amazing,” McRae said. “Just chuckling to myself – it’s an away game against the Gold Coast and we’ve got 3000 people at training. We don’t lose sight of it. Our fans are incredible. 

“I didn’t mention it enough after the game on the weekend, just how important they are for our results and outcomes and spurring us on.”

Experienced midfielder Tom Mitchell will make the trip north despite suffering some neck pain.


The 2018 Brownlow medallist hurt himself in the gym this week but trained on Friday and will be right to line up in the midfield against Gold Coast young guns Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson.

All-Australian defender Brayden Maynard will also take on the Suns despite having hurt his shoulder late in last Sunday’s thrilling two-point victory over Adelaide.

In a boost for Collingwood, high-priced recruit Daniel McStay will return via the VFL after suffering an infection to a finger he had operated on in April.

McRae is confident if McStay survives the reserves hit-out the forward will be back for Collingwood’s match against the Western Bulldogs next weekend.

Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew is wary of Collingwood, particularly Brownlow Medal favourite Nick Daicos.

“He’s almost untaggable. I haven’t really seen it done successfully,” Dew said.


“I think a couple of teams have tried to target him and it kind of feeds his motivation. You’ve just got to get that line right.

“There’s 21 other players you’ve got to be concerned about as well.”

The Suns (7-7) could jump inside the top eight if they upset Collingwood in one of the biggest matches in six seasons under Dew.

With a tricky run home, Gold Coast will need to claim some unexpected scalps to book a maiden finals berth in the club’s 13th season.

Hinkley confident Georgiades happy at Port

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is adamant Mitch Georgiades is happy at the Power – but he won’t rush the key forward into re-signing.

Georgiades is out of contract at the end of the season and both West Coast and Fremantle are keeping a close eye on the Perth-born  21-year-old in the hope they can lure him home.


The 192cm spearhead has endured a tough year, falling out of favour earlier this season before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing in the SANFL in April.

The Power (12-2) sit second on the ladder on the back of an 11-match winning streak and were given a further boost this week when Victorian Miles Bergman re-signed with the club for a further two years.

Hinkley hopes Georgiades will follow suit. 

“We’ve seen examples of our players wanting to stay,” Hinkley told reporters on Friday. 

“Mitch is slightly different based on the fact he now has a serious knee injury that he’s dealing with.

“We need to give him the fullness of time to make sure he’s got all the information he needs.


“Let’s let him recover from his knee. It’s not a rush for Mitch and it’s certainly not a rush from us as a club. 

“But we’re extremely confident that Mitch loves being at our football club.”

Hinkley expects 32-year-old spearhead Charlie Dixon to re-sign later this year.

“I’d be staggered, staggered if Charlie Dixon wasn’t playing next year,” Hinkley said.

But for now Hinkley is more focused on ensuring his team don’t become the latest victim of the AFL’s bye curse.

Teams are a combined 2-11 coming off a bye – with the only two wins coming in games in which both teams were off a bye.


Port had the bye last week and they will be aiming to buck the losing trend when they take on Essendon at the MCG on Saturday night.

“The mature thing to do is talk and be honest enough to know that it’s somewhat real,” Hinkley said of the bye stat.

“It’s part of what has gone on. There’s lots of reasons for different things. 

“But if we just sat back and looked at the results and said, ‘did many of those results surprise us’, I’m not sure there’s a terrible amount of those results that went against what it should have been.

“There might have been one or two but most of the favourites got up.

“We’re confident we can play good footy straight out of the bye.”

Port will be boosted by the return of Junior Rioli (illness), while the sixth-placed Bombers (8-6) could use Dylan Shiel (foot) as the tactical sub after naming him as one of four emergencies.