Respected AFL journalist Caroline Wilson has launched a scathing attack on North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson over his recent controversy involving a female reporter from Channel Nine. Clarkson was forced to apologise last month after aggressively telling Nine journalist Elisabeth Moss “your time will come” when she and other journalists questioned the coach about allegations against Kangaroos player Tarryn Thomas.
The 22-year-old Thomas stepped away from the club amid claims of harassment and intimidating behaviour from multiple women. Upon Thomas' return to train with the team last month, Clarkson snapped over the line of questioning around the youngster from the Nine reporter.
The Kangaroos coach says his aggressive outburst was made with the interests of his players and club at heart. It's understood Clarkson spent some 45 minutes at the offices of Nine, attempting to explain his side of the story.
However, Clarkson later went on to say that he couldn't promise a similar incident wouldn't happen in the future. The 54-year-old also refuted the idea he has an anger management problem and said he will also speak out against what he thinks is wrong.
Clarkson is no stranger to run-ins with AFL reporters after a long and successful coaching career in the game that has included four premierships with Hawthorn, and put the ugly confrontation down to a case of “standing up for your people”.
"You'd think, with the experience ... I've continually learned my lessons," he said. "But this has been with me ever since I was a kid - if I see something unjust or untoward, I will defend - and I saw something that was unjust and untoward. I felt like I needed to defend our players and staff and I can't give a guarantee I won't do that again in the future."
Speaking on the Don't Shoot The Messenger podcast, Wilson said the veteran coach had behaved in a "ridiculous" manner and needed to "grow up". She insisted the Channel Nine reporter had every right to ask Clarkson questions about Thomas and the North Melbourne coach's reaction to that was unacceptable.
"He has behaved in such ridiculous fashion," Wilson said. "He's back where he was in those early bad years of Hawthorn where he was threatening the media.
"'Your time will come, you'll get yours', I reckon he said the same thing to Craig Hutchison one night on Footy Classified. Swearing once at Mark Robinson as he left a press conference.
"It doesn't matter who the journalist was but it happened to be a young female journo, 'Your time will come'. I mean seriously. When she was apparently upsetting him by asking some very fair questions of Tarryn Thomas."
Alastair Clarkson slammed over apology
Clarkson defended Thomas after the youngster returned to training with the club, having taken few weeks off to deal with with his off-field behaviour towards women. "You come in at 17-18 years of age and somewhere along the way, just the wheels fall off for a period of time," Clarkson added. "To be fair, everyone has issues in their life."
Wilson said she understands Clarkson's notion of standing up for his players but insists the Kangaroos coach crossed the linen by threatening the Nine reporter. The veteran AFL journalist also scolded the North Melbourne coach for what she described as a half-apology.
"Tarryn Thomas is a North Melbourne footballer with some great troubles and a chequered history relating to women," she said. "Now, I'm sorry, but the media has every right to question Tarryn Thomas' return to the North Melbourne training group.
"This sort of notion of players that love coaches who back them to the hilt and back the team to the hilt and don't care if they abuse the media, surely players are not that gullible and stupid. For Alastair, with all the issues he's had, to do something like this and then for it to be so serious that the club has made it clear and he's agreed to go into Channel Nine and issue an apology, and then not to apologise and continue to rant or name other bugbears or not properly apologise or do a Wayne Carey apology was just beyond the pale."
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