A premiership would be remarkable for the Magpies. Picture: Getty Images
A premiership would be remarkable for the Magpies. Picture: Getty Images

Which coach needs a flag the most?

WHEN Jeff Kennett demanded a premiership every five years at Hawthorn last December the football community sniggered.

Yet if Alastair Clarkson holds aloft the premiership cup in just over five weeks, he will have won five flags at a rate of one every 2.8 seasons.

It is almost obscene in an era when Ross Lyon has toiled for 284 games without success and John Worsfold has compiled a 348-game coaching career for only a single premiership victory.

In professional sport, trophies do the talking, so five premierships in 14 seasons (330 games) would put Clarkson into the conversation as the greatest coach of all time.

He is an unlikely package, bowling into Fox Footy on Monday with the shortest of shorts and a T-shirt to chinwag about game style, retiring champions and his upbringing in the Wimmera town of Kaniva as the youngest of five kids.

Another premiership would put him past four-time premiership luminaries Allan Jeans, Kevin Sheedy, Tom Hafey, Ron Barassi, Leigh Matthews and behind only Jock McHale (eight premierships), Norm Smith (six), and "Checker" Hughes and Jack Worrall (both five).

Funny as it sounds, as much as Clarkson is chasing history he isn't really in a hurry given a long-term contract extension in the offing and a team only really warming up.

All of the eight men leading their teams into September have so much to gain from the addition of glittering silverware to their club's premiership cabinets.

But some clearly have more to gain - or lose - than others.

Clarkson has a free swing and Simon Goodwin is a second-year coach who has already achieved so much with drought-breaking finals qualification.

Geelong has backed Chris Scott to the hilt with a long-term contract extension, aware some fairly minor fan anger and a moderate finals record is the only downside to a superb coaching resume.

Alastair Clarkson is having another brilliant year with the Hawks. Picture: Getty Images
Alastair Clarkson is having another brilliant year with the Hawks. Picture: Getty Images

Consider what another flag does to his reputation in coaching.

He will be seen to have achieved something rare in the modern era - winning two premierships in eight years while barely bottoming out, the second from eighth spot on the ladder.

The doubters would quickly fall silent again.

Nathan Buckley might be Collingwood's greatest player, and might have been sacked last season.

If he could hold up the cup he would vindicate Collingwood's succession plan and realise the dreams of Gary Pert and Eddie McGuire all those years ago as a decade-long Magpies coach.

Think of the features they would write about Buckley this summer, so close to coaching oblivion and yet thriving as a softer, mellower leader throwing his game plan upside down and inspiring a motley, banged-up crew.

No one has had more talent at his disposals than GWS coach Leon Cameron in his five years at the Giants.

Yet we also underestimate the culture he has built, the reasons why so many players have stayed north despite the yearly predictions of a talent exodus.

Leon Cameron’s resume would look a lot different with a premiership. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Leon Cameron’s resume would look a lot different with a premiership. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Surely if he won the flag even his harshest of critics would realise you don't fluke successive preliminary finals then march to a premiership despite a list ravished by injury all year.

At Sydney John Longmire doesn't have to prove anything to anyone given his stature in the game.

Yet a premiership would vindicate the Lance Franklin deal for departing CEO Andrew Ireland and show Longmire to be a masterful list builder given the fast-tracked kids doing great things in this side's best 22.

Big stakes for all of the big boys of coaching as September rolls around.

 

Would a Chris Scott flag silence the doubters? Picture: Getty Images
Would a Chris Scott flag silence the doubters? Picture: Getty Images

COVET THE CUP

Which coach needs a flag the most?

1 Chris Scott (Geelong)

A second premiership gives him hero status at Geelong - if not up there with drought-breaker Mark Thompson, then not far behind. It franks the long-term contract extension, it allows him time to transition into the new era when Ablett and Co. eventually retire.

2 Leon Cameron (GWS)

When GWS wins it's about the talented draft picks, when it loses it's Leon Cameron's fault.

If he can orchestrate a premiership with this club's dramatic injury toll the critics will have to pay tribute and realise Cameron has established a worthy game style and culture in an AFL frontier town.

3 Nathan Buckley (Collingwood)

No pressure on Bucks given the injury toll and young, vibrant list. But a flag vindicates the succession plan, makes one of the club's greatest players into an elite coach who has learnt the error of his ways and emerged a popular coach who sculpted a game plan to suit the team's strengths.

4 John Longmire (Sydney)

Justifies the Lance Franklin selection, justifies the Sydney game style, adds a second flag within 200 games coached plus a 67.7 per cent win-loss record. Would retain Sydney's reputation as the big kid in town of the two AFL clubs.

5 Adam Simpson (West Coast)

Well respected out west after early growing pains, but this would turn him into a coaching powerhouse, capable of thriving despite key injuries and suspensions and setting up a potential dynasty given the youth on this list.

Adam Simpson is hunting his first premiership. Picture: AAP Images
Adam Simpson is hunting his first premiership. Picture: AAP Images

6 Alastair Clarkson (Hawthorn)

No pressure on the four-time premiership coach, but the magnitude of a shock premiership is that it entrenches him in history. Already in the coaching pantheon but puts him behind only four figures in 120 years with more premierships, none of them in the modern equalisation era.

7 Damien Hardwick (Richmond)

Only two of the past 11 minor premiership have won the flag. So if Hardwick triumphs he is a Richmond idol, yet if not the club's stars are locked away long-term and Tom Lynch is set to arrive from Round 1 next year.

8 Simon Goodwin (Melbourne)

A free hit. As good as a deep finals run would be, the Demons have cracked the finals hoodoo and have Jake Lever to return next year as well as a star-studded young list.

Watch the finals of the 2018 Toyota AFL Premiership Season. SIGN UP NOW >



How the Ulmarra campaign achieved its goal

How the Ulmarra campaign achieved its goal

Timeline of the Let's Not Wait Ulmarra campaign

TERRIFIED: Roaming pigs corner elderly woman

TERRIFIED: Roaming pigs corner elderly woman

'If they knocked my mum to the ground they would have killed her'

Homegrown star looks to community support at Yamba

premium_icon Homegrown star looks to community support at Yamba

WALL keen to show off sport he loves to community.

Local Partners