Clarkson misses AFL coach honour again

Remarkably, Alastair Clarkson is still yet to win the AFL senior coach of the year award.

If Hawthorn beat West Coast in Saturday’s grand final, he will become only the 12th four-time premiership coach.

But circumstances have conspired against Clarkson winning the award since the Hawks rose to prominence in 2007.

The members of the coaches’ association vote on the honour, which only covers the home-and-away season.

Luke Beveridge from the Western Bulldogs won on Tuesday night just ahead of the Eagles’ Adam Simpson, with Fremantle’s Ross Lyon a distant third.

No one would have argued against Beveridge or Simpson winning – the Bulldogs made an elimination final in Beveridge’s debut season as a senior coach after finishing 14th last year.

West Coast were ninth last year and Simpson is only in his second season as their coach.

By contrast, the Hawks had an average start to the season and finished third.

Hawks president Andrew Newbold was unfussed that Clarkson did not feature in the top three.

“I don’t think we seek those kind of accolades,” Newbold said.

“That’s our attitude – individual accolades are great, but really what we want is for the whole club to achieve accolades.

“I reckon if you said to Nat Fyfe, would you rather the Brownlow or the premiership, knowing how he behaved, I reckon I know the answer.”

Newbold was also rapt that Beveridge, a former Hawks assistant coach under Clarkson, had won.

Beveridge is among five former Clarkson assistants now coaching rival AFL teams.

“We get enormous satisfaction from that,” Newbold said.

“Luke Beveridge got coach of the year which is just fantastic and it couldn’t have happened to a better bloke – I’m really thrilled for him.”

As the award only covers the regular season, the premiership coach often misses out.

Sydney’s John Longmire three years ago was the last to win in the same season as his team took out the premiership.

Since the award started in 2003, only West Coast’s John Worsfold (2006), Geelong’s Mark Thompson (’07), Collingwood’s Mick Malthouse (’10) and Longmire have done the award-premiership double.

Clarkson’s first opportunity was 2008, when the Hawks upset Geelong in the grand final.

But the Cats dominated that season and Thompson won the senior coaching award for the second-consecutive year.

In 2013, Clarkson’s second premiership at Hawthorn, Port Adelaide came from nowhere to make the finals and so the award went to Ken Hinkley.

Last season was probably Clarkson’s best chance so far.

Sydney finished minor premiers ahead of the the Hawks and Longmire took out the award for the second time.

On their website, the coaches’ association says the voting criteria is “coaching excellence throughout the home and away season, having regard for prior season’s performance, available resources, player talent and team management”.

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