Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell’s awkward explanation for Alastair Clarkson snub at AFL Hall of Fame awards: ‘I mean, I thanked my coaches in general’
- Mitchell spent 12 seasons coached under Clarkson
- Took over from Hawthorn mentor as Hawks coach
- Did not thank him in Hall of Fame acceptance speech
Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell insists he didn’t deliberately snub former mentor Alastair Clarkson in his Australian Football Hall of Fame speech.
Mitchell and now-North Melbourne coach Clarkson have a turbulent history and a near non-existent relationship, despite winning four premierships together.
When being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, Mitchell made no mention during a lengthy speech of his coach of 12 seasons.
When asked on Friday whether Clarkson’s omission from his speech was a conscious decision, Mitchell told reporters: ‘No, I was surprised it came up actually.
‘I mean, I thanked my coaches in general.
‘There’s so many people that help you achieve things and whether it’s the first coach you have as an under-10s kid or the coach you had for 14 years, I think all of those people help you enormously.
‘And I tried not to get too individual in my speech at all and was surprised it got picked up.’
Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame for his playing achievements, but did not mention former coach Alastair Clarkson
Clarkson and Mitchell had issues at Hawthorn with the premiership-winning coach leaving the Hawks shortly after Mitchell arrived as his assstant
During happier days Clarkson and Mitchell won four AFL premierships at the Hawthorn Hawks
Mitchell’s autobiography detailed how the pair had to meet and thrash out some differences in late 2011 when he was a star Hawthorn player.
He later departed for West Coast at the end of 2016, playing for one season before coaching the Eagles’ midfield in their 2018 premiership.
Mitchell returned to the Hawks at the end of 2018 and originally was supposed to take over from Clarkson at Hawthorn in a coaching succession plan.
But that plan spectacularly fell apart and Clarkson left the Hawks a year early in late 2021 before joining North Melbourne last year.
Mitchell delighted in the ‘great honour’ of entering the Hall of Fame but was keen to move on to Sunday’s clash with Carlton.
‘It was a bit embarrassing really, it felt like it went for a while and I’m happy that it’s over now,’ he said.
‘I hope we can move past that pretty quickly. I had enough Sam Mitchell time.’
Mitchell confirmed highly rated defender Changkuoth Jiath would make his long-awaited return from injury via limited minutes in the VFL on Saturday.