Now Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has
been re-appointed for the next two years he can get back to the business of trying to win a game for the Hawks.

The re-appointment of a coach is something
fans are justifiably interested in, especially when your team has lost its last
six games. Early last year, Carlton signed Denis Pagan for another three years only to watch as the
Blues failed to deliver any of the form suggested by their pre-season cup win
and a respectable 2004.

Unlike the Hawthorn process, it was a
decision made on the basis of improving results. At the time, Pagan said the
deal “was done in ten minutes”,
but since then, Carlton has plunged from hopeful to hopeless, with Pagan
entrenched until the end of 2008.

Yesterday, when Kennett was pressed on
details of the committee’s deliberations, he dismissed them as “irrelevant”,
in effect telling supporters to mind their own business, the sort of reaction
most Victorians have come to expect from the ex-Premier. Regardless of Kennett’s preference for
secrecy (where’s the footy ombudsman when you need him?), you suspect
the “show” surrounding the appointment of the coaching panel was a
crucial part of
it, regardless of its effect on the coach and players. Perceptions that the
club was
acting judiciously were just as important, if not more so, to
supporters and potential
sponsors as the recommendations themselves.

While Hawthorn is presenting a united front
on the issue, an article in today’s Age
goes some way to debunking the value of the whole exercise. “Hawthorn
had no choice but to extend Alastair Clarkson’s contract, and
it was more or less compelled to give him two years”, writes Jake
Niall,
before arguing that no other senior AFL coach is available to take
Clarkson’s job, and
going with a rookie coach would be akin to going backwards 18 months to
when
Clarkson was a rookie himself. “It wasn’t simply the
correct decision”, he concludes. “It was the only decision possible.”

Peter Fray

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