Garry Lyon's message for Alastair Clarkson as AFL investigates 'vile' act from coach

The Kangaroos coach is in hot water after an ugly outburst.

AFL legend Garry Lyon has delivered a message to Alastair Clarkson over what's been described as a "vile" outburst that's landed the North Melbourne coach in hot water. Clarkson is under AFL investigation and facing possible suspension amid allegations he directed a foul-mouthed spray towards the umpires' bench during last Saturday's 59-point loss to Port Adelaide.

The AFL has confirmed it is looking into allegations Clarkson used "profane language", which the Kangaroos coach has not denied. However, the fate of the Kangaroos coach and how significant any sanction against him will be is set to be determined by whether or not he directed the alleged outburst at the umpires or not.

Pictured left to right, AFL great Garry Lyon and North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson.
Garry Lyon has given Alastair Clarkson some words of advice after the North Melbourne coach's ugly outburst during an AFL game. Pic: Getty

“The key with this incident is not whether he said it. He did use two fruity words, one starting with F and one starting with C,” Channel Nine AFL reporter Tom Morris said on SEN Breakfast. “It’s who he said it to. If he did say it to the match officials or in the direction of the match officials next to the North Melbourne bench then I’d imagine he’s in significant trouble.

“If he said it into the ether then it’s a really interesting discussion because it was heard by security guards, match officials and people in the crowd around. What is his obligation as a role model and senior coach to behave in a certain manner on the bench? That’s a discussion that I think is a wider one.”

Clarkson has a long history of flare-ups and confrontations, which includes 12 misdemeanours since 2006. And this latest incident could trigger a suspended two-match ban that hangs over Clarkson for the homophobic slur he directed at St Kilda players during a practice game in March.

Melbourne legend Lyon says he'll reserve full judgement on Clarkson after the AFL concludes its investigation into the North Melbourne coach, which is expected some time on Thursday. But Lyon did have some advice to offer the veteran coach about being mindful of his surroundings when he is prone to foul-mouthed sprays.

“I’ll be prepared to wait until they hand down the verdict, then if he’s stepped outside the boundaries again and he cops a two-week suspension because he’s abused an umpire then he is a slow learner,” Lyon said. “If he’s just swearing in the general course of play, again be cognisant of where you are and who is around you.

“If you’re in the coaches’ box you can swear and go nuts. I’ve sat in enough coaches’ boxes to know what they’re like. If you’re down on the boundary, it’s a different story. I’m fully on board with being aware of your surroundings and the people who are in the vicinity. I’m a swearer and I need to be very cognisant of where I’m at.

Seen here, North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson.
North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has a lengthy rap sheet of offences across his career in the AFL. Pic: Getty

“If it is directed at an umpire then he’ll cop his right whack, there’s no problem with that. If it’s general swearing of that nature in a public forum when there are people within earshot, then you’ve got to be held accountable for that as well...


“I have spoken to Alastair about this stuff, about how you have to be in control. If you know you are prone to outbursts like that in the heat of a battle, in this instance we’re talking football, then pack yourself away. Put yourself in the soundproof box.”

Morris described the incident as a "difficult and nuanced one" for the AFL to rule on. “There’s absolutely a possibility that match officials or people near the umpires’ bench would have interpreted it (Clarkson's outburst) as towards them when in fact his intent was not towards them,” Morris added. “The hard thing about Alastair Clarkson is that his rap sheet is so long one is less inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt than before, which is perhaps a little unfair given footy coaches can swear all the time."

with AAP