Hawks legend Jordan Lewis slams Hawthorn over Alastair Clarkson saga

Alastair Clarkson holds 'animosity' towards the club he coached to four AFL premierships, with Jordan Lewis slamming the Hawks as a result.

·5-min read
Alastair Clarkson and Jordan Lewis.
Jordan Lewis has lashed out at Hawthorn over their treatment of former premiership coach Alastair Clarkson. Pictures: Getty Images/Fox Footy

Former Hawthorn star Jordan Lewis has savaged the AFL club over the way it initially handled allegations of racism towards several former staff, including Alastair Clarkson. Clarkson has stepped down as coach of North Melbourne, focusing on his mental wellbeing as the investigation drags on.

Clarkson, Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan and former club official Jason Burt have all come under AFL investigation after allegations of racist treatment of players during the trio's time at the club from 2005 onwards. All three have strenuously denied the allegations.

SAD: AFL icon Rex Hunt reveals tragic family fallout amid tough diagnosis

'FIX IT': Mark Robinson tears AFL star to shreds in fiery on-air spray

The decision to step down at North Melbourne left Lewis 'shocked', but he said the animosity Clarkson felt towards the Hawks was shared by many unhappy with how the club, which he coached to four premierships, had handled the situation. He told Fox Footy was was sympathetic to the position Clarkson was in and said the AFL needed to pull out all the stops to resolve the situation - not just for Clarkson but also for those who had originally made the allegations.

Lewis said Hawthorn had a lot to answer for, declaring the club had 'blood on their hands' and saying those in charge of the AFL investigation had failed to do their job. Clarkson launched an attack on both Hawthorn and the AFL's lead investigator, Bernard Quinn KC, in an explosive press conference a week before deciding to step down.

“There are people still at Hawthorn with blood on their hands. The more I talk about it, the angrier I get,” Lewis said.

“He’s the most resilient person that I’ve ever come across in my life. So for him to get to a point where it’s taken such a significant toll on him for him to be able to step away and acknowledge that he’s not dealing with the situation greatly and his mental health is suffering, and I can only imagine how much his family has been put through at this particular time shows just how much stress he’s been under.

“These people who were put in place to interview both sides of the situation to get a clearer picture of what actually happened haven’t done their job. I feel for the Indigenous players because they probably went into this situation hoping there would be an outcome.

"Once again, eight months down the track they still feel like they’re in limbo. The same goes for the other side of the camp. They haven’t even had a chance to talk.

“I couldn’t imagine that they would want to go back to the football club for a very, very long time. It’s really sad.”

Alastair Clarkson furious at Hawthorn amid AFL investigation

The press conference spray directed at Hawthorn was an indication of the 'animosity' Clarkson holds towards his former club, Kangaroos football boss Todd Viney said while discussing the reasons why the coach had opted to step down so suddenly. However the pressure, built over months as the AFL investigation drags on, had been building on Clarkson in ways the public wouldn't have seen.

SEN's Sam Edmund reported that, while trailing the power by 45 points in round nine, Clarkson launched into an explosive tirade at his players which culminated in a plastic chair being hurled at a wall. He said that was the moment it became clear something needed to change, with Clarkson making the decision to step away in consultation with both his family and manager.

Alastair Clarkson has stepped down as coach of North Melbourne for an indefinite period of time in order to focus on his health and wellbeing. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)
Alastair Clarkson has stepped down as coach of North Melbourne for an indefinite period of time in order to focus on his health and wellbeing. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

“I’m told the four-time premiership coach unloaded on his players, it was a withering half time spray. Witnesses said that during that outburst, a chair was picked up and thrown into the wall,” Edmunds said. “The outburst is viewed by some at the club as the moment it became clear that the decorated senior coach needed to prioritise his mental well being by stepping away from the game and leaving the city of Melbourne.

“It is viewed as the last and somewhat the final piece of a pattern of behaviour that had become increasingly erratic. It did come after last week Clarkson attacked Hawthorn publicly over what he said was the club’s ‘shameful handling of the investigation’. And that was a press conference that Todd Viney today described as a window into Alastair Clarkson’s mindset.”

Both Viney and North Melbourne club president, Dr Sonja Hood, have praised Clarkson for making the decision to prioritise his health, rather than try to persist in the face of increasingly difficult personal circumstances. Dr Hood said she had no regrets about hiring Clarkson, adding that he would be welcomed back into the fold as soon as he feels ready.

Former St Kilda and Carlton coach Brett Ratten, who joined as an assistant after being sacked by the Saints in 2022, will take over as head coach in the interim. Ratten is the fourth coach the club has had in sixteen games - David Noble, Leigh Adams, Clarkson and Ratten.

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.