18/04/2024

Alastair Clarkson has signed a five-year deal with North Melbourne. (Image: @NMFCOfficial - Twitter)

Home was the key theme at North Melbourne as the Kangaroos unveiled Alastair Clarkson as their new senior coach for 2023 and beyond.

The 54-year-old said he was delighted to return to the club that gave him his first taste of VFL/AFL football in 1987, and said the decision “just felt right” to sign a five-year deal with the Roos.

The four-time premiership coach was particularly thoughtful and reflective in his first time addressing the media since being announced North Melbourne’s coach, recalling some of his memories at Arden Street.

“I’ve got such fond memories of what this club has done for me over my journey,” Clarkson said.

“I’ve got so many wonderful memories of this place and it’s changed a little bit since I was last here, the facilities are a little bit sharper.

“I remember as a nine-year-old child, the first time I ever came to North was to come and watch the 1977 grand final.”

Not only was it where he says he fell in love with the game, but North Melbourne also provided crucial support for Clarkson during his early years at the club when he lost his brother due to a car accident.

The former Shinboner of 93 games said that when it came to decisions as crucial as the next move in his coaching career, it was important to him that he reflected on the guidance the Kangaroos gave to him during that time.

“(Key North Melbourne figures at the time) were so pivotal to me at that stage of my life because I was going through a really, really tough time,” he said.

“It could easily have gone one way or the other, and I was so fortunate I had those people.

“Perhaps the shoe is on the other foot right now where this club needs some support and some help, and that was pivotal in us making the decision to help the club get back on track again.”

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Before reuniting with his Kangaroos family, Clarkson says his wife and three children played a massive role in helping shape his next move, with a family Zoom call last night finalising the decision.

After beginning conversations with the Roos over a month ago, Clarkson said he only officially came to his decision at around 7.30pm on Thursday evening.

“We always knew as a family that seven o’clock last night was going to be the time (to decide),” he said.

“They were all pretty excited, we’ve been on a real journey over the last 12 months to be fair.”

Clarkson’s next move has been a constant talking point throughout the season, with both North Melbourne and GWS having conversations with him in the past month about luring him to their club.

However, the past week’s revelations with Essendon making an eleventh-hour bid for the former Hawthorn coach complicated the process a little bit further, with Clarkson saying during the week he was “embarrassed” to be the centre of attention.

Despite having conversations with Essendon earlier in the week, Clarkson said he “didn’t really want to have ongoing discussions with the Bombers”.

“It was a difficult position to be in, and I was aware it was becoming a circus. I don’t like being the centre of attention,” he said.

“We were so far down the road with North and GWS, the Essendon process came far too late to give it serious consideration.

“It was really out of respect that I listened to what they had to say. Due diligence takes a lot longer than four days, for me.”

North Melbourne president Sonja Hood, who has dealt almost exclusively with Clarkson throughout the process, described the signing as a “watershed moment” for the club in a letter to members on Friday morning.

“Our former number 23, Shinboner #781, and four-time premiership coach will lead our talented, young group from 2023 until at least 2027,” she wrote.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the professionalism of Alastair and his manager James Henderson over this past four weeks.

“Today is a good day. Alastair’s coming home. To our home.”

Clarkson will begin at North Melbourne on November 1.

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