Alastair Clarkson spurns Essendon in massive AFL coaching call

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Alastair Clarkson is pictured coaching Hawthorn during a 2021 AFL game.
Alastair Clarkson will coach North Melbourne from next season onwards, rejecting last minute offers from the Bombers. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

North Melbourne's hopes of an AFL resurrection have been bolstered after the club announced its pursuit of four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson was successful.

The Kangaroos will close out a tumultuous and uncompetitive season when they take on the Gold Coast this weekend, aiming to pick up just their third win for the year.

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After previous coach David Noble walked away after just 18 months in the job, it will be up to Clarkson to revive the fortunes of the ailing Kangaroos.

Despite some speculation the Essendon Bombers could have been interested in pursuing Clarkson to help with troubles of their own, the former Hawthorn great will instead take over at Arden St from November.

North president Sonja Hood said she was delighted to announce Clarkson's appointment on a five-season deal, which came after weeks of negotiations.

Clarkson will be North's fourth full-time coach in five years after Noble was sacked in July, with Hood describing the move as a 'watershed moment' in a statement prior to a press conference later on Friday.

"This is a real watershed moment for our club and I am writing to share it with members first - we'll talk to media later today, but for now this is a moment for all of us," Hood said.

"I can't speak highly enough of the professionalism of Alastair and his manager James Henderson over this past four weeks.

"We've had a crash course in getting to know each other and Alastair's passion to drive our club back to where we belong is incredibly infectious.

"Today is a good day. Alastair's coming home - to our home."

Clarkson had also been in discussions to coach the GWS Giants, after they parted ways with long-time coach Leon Cameron earlier in the year.

Ultimately preferring to remain in Melbourne over a move north to Sydney, Clarkson has work to do in getting the uncompetitive team from this season moving towards the top eight.

Alastair Clarkson signing a boon for ailing North Melbourne

Clarkson coached Hawthorn for 17 seasons, leading the Hawks to premierships in 2008 and the 2013-15 three-peat.

He departed Hawthorn at the end of 2021, a year before his contract was due to expire, following a messy coaching succession plan to former Hawks champion Sam Mitchell.

Clarkson met with North and GWS, before this week telling the Giants he wanted to remain in Melbourne instead of relocating to Sydney.

The Kangaroos had been exclusively dealing with Clarkson since Noble's exit six weeks ago and were in the box-seat.

Essendon attempted to lure Clarkson this week as board turmoil at the club resulted in David Barham replacing Paul Brasher as president.

It is a massive boost for the Kangaroos, who have endured a difficult period on and off the field and will pick up their second-straight wooden spoon if they don't defeat Gold Coast on Saturday.

Alastair Clarkson is pictured speaking to Hawthorn players during an AFL game in 2021.
Alastair Clarkson described the massive interest in his coaching plans for next year as 'embarrassing'. (Photo by Grant Viney/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Earlier in the week, Clarkson said it was 'embarrassing' to be linked to so many open coaching roles - and in Essendon's case, one that wasn't.

Rutten, who is contracted for 2023, remains Essendon's coach but the Bombers had approached Clarkson and were hoping he could help the once-powerful club storm back into premiership relevance.

"With the situation around 'Truck' (Rutten), he's still got a year of his contract to run and it's quite embarrassing being the centre of attention in a situation that is just so difficult for both him and his club," Clarkson told Ten News on Thursday.

"I'd prefer to be able to get off the back page, and I know full well that this circus will all end once I can make a decision, one way or another.

"The sooner I can do that, the better."

With AAP

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