Will Clarkson choose the Bombers or the Roos?

The machinations surrounding the contract status of Alastair Clarkson have been thrown for a loop this week as the Bombers have finally thrown their hat in the ring competing for Clarko’s signature after an insipid loss to the Port Adelaide Power on Sunday afternoon.

Additionally, there was the disappointment surrounding the weak-kneed criticism in the internal review that failed to acknowledge the deeper problems of the Essendon administration. In this piece we will compare Essendon and North, assessing the pros and cons of bringing in the master coach.

What this piece won’t determine is whether signing Alastair Clarkson is the right call for either North or Essendon.

There have been many examples of coaches moving clubs and failing to capture the magic again: Mick Malthouse from Collingwood to Carlton, Tom Hafey from Richmond to Collingwood, Geelong and Sydney, and Dennis Pagan from North Melbourne to Carlton.

Each of these coaches found their eccentricities magnified when they moved clubs, making them intolerable at their new home.


1. He will get to spite Hawthorn

Now, I’m not saying this is the primary reason. But I’m not saying it.

The rivalry between Essendon and Hawthorn is historic. The temperature will reach boiling point if Clarkson joins Essendon with the talismanic coach finally given the opportunity to spite them for the mishandling of the succession plan between him and Sam Mitchell.

It might seem petty but the harder edge of Clarkson makes him prone to these sort of gaffes. The rage felt by Hawthorn would be palpable, particularly as Essendon had the wood on them in recent years.

2. Essendon has the best list

For a side that is consistently inconsistent Essendon have done a remarkable job of beating the Kangaroos specifically. For the past eight matches the Bombers have beaten them in every match since 2016, where Essendon were missing 34 players due to the supplements saga.

Additionally, the Bombers have both the Davey twins and Anthony Munkara coming through their father-son selections and next generation academy respectively.

Each fills a need for the Bombers that has been missing since Anthony McDonald Tippungwuti retired in a pressure small forward as well as lacking a mercurial indigenous players that the Bombers have prided themselves on since the inaugural Dreamtime at the G clash.

North Melbourne

1. Essendon are a basket case right now

The Bombers have been plagued by off-field instability over the past 20 years. If Clarkson joins Essendon he will be their ninth coach since Kevin Sheedy left in 2007.

Senior Coach Alastair Clarkson of the Hawks

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

North has offered stability to Clarkson, with a rumored five-year deal at $1.6 million per season. With a pre-existing opening in the job vacated by David Noble earlier this year Clarkson has the opportunity to shape the club how he sees fit from the recruiting staff to the assistant coaches, and even the CEO. Clarko has the opportunity to build North from the ground up.

Such a challenge would appear appetizing to Clarkson and he wouldn’t run the risk of being fired in two years in case something goes awry at Essendon. The Kangaroos represent stability and given their repeated inability to land a big fish they will be exceptionally keen to land Clarkson.

2. He has a pre-existing connection to North

Clarko during his playing days was a small midfielder and forward at North from 1987 to 1995. He was seven games shy of his kids qualifying as father-son or father-daughter selections.

3. More money

Now, I’m a big believer in the Notorious BIG school of economics, Mo Money Mo Problems. But the Roos are rumored to have offered Clarkson a massive five-year deal. It’s a huge amount but such is North’s faith in the mercurial master coach.

It is more than Essen can offer given their own stability at the coaching position and the impatience of their legions of fans after 20 years in the wilderness.

4. In the review of the North footballing department

It is more due to most of their off-field staff leaving or being forced out but there is nothing for them to review so it’s a real bare-bones operation. Clarko can come in and rebuild as he sees fit.

Now, I think this may not be good for North given that there’s no one else there to challenge Clarkson’s eccentricities like the later years of Hawthorn where he made some strange decisions like bringing in Chad Wingard at the cost of a firs-round pick and Ryan Burton who would have been a valuable addition to the Hawks currently.

However, this piece about what is better for Alastair Clarkson not what is better for North or Essendon.

Well, there you have it, folks.

I’m not making a call either way as I’m too biased. I think there are positives and negatives to signing the master coach in Alastair Clarkson.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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