Players and officials from Hawthorn’s 2013 premiership victory had a series of reunions this week, with a number of notable attendees and absentees.
There had been plenty of speculation in recent months about whether Alastair Clarkson, the architect of Hawthorn’s four flags from 2008-2015, would attend.
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Clarkson had a major falling out with the club over racism allegations that surfaced in the past year, while he has also been at loggerheads with his Hawthorn successor, Sam Mitchell.
Yet Clarkson and Mitchell reportedly both attended the events, which included a gala dinner at an official function at Crown Palladium on Tuesday this week, plus a more casual gathering on a boat trip the following day.
Clarkson was said to be in good spirits, according to former Hawthorn All Australian Jordan Lewis.
“It was unbelievable — you’d be in a conversation over here and look over and Clarko was talking and having a laugh,” Lewis told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“He seemed like he was really enjoying the day. Just a moment to sit back, relax and talk about the stories.”
A year after losing a thrilling grand final to the Sydney Swans, the Hawks beat Fremantle by 15 points in the 2013 decider.
That was the first of three straight flags for the Hawks and four overall in a stunning era under Clarkson.
A budding Hawthorn outfit stunned the AFL by also winning the 2008 flag.
A succession plan between Clarkson and Mitchell went awry, with the latter taking over the head coaching role a year early and in acrimonious circumstances.
Clarkson has since taken on the head coaching role at North Melbourne, requiring leave during his first season due to the toll of the racism investigation.
Clarkson has always denied any wrongdoing and the AFL announced no adverse findings against Clarkson, Chris Fagan or Jason Burt in May this year, although legal action remains a possibility.
It was all smiles at the boat party, however, as Clarkson and Mitchell chatted happily among teammates and staff a decade after that triumph over the Dockers, according to a report in the Herald Sun.
There were some notable absentees, including superstar duo Cyril Rioli and Buddy Franklin.
Lewis confirmed Rioli, one of the Indigenous Hawks players whose allegations sparked the racism controversy, did not attend the reunion.
Franklin has been avoiding the spotlight since he farewelled the SCG at the end of the regular season following his retirement.
The key forward reportedly skipped the Hawks’ festivities and Franklin also turned down an approach for an MCG farewell at this Saturday’s AFL Grand Final.