Crawford gives big raps to Hawks coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Crawford gives big raps to Hawks coach

By Sam Lienert 05/08/2008 05:54:30 PM Comments (0)

Durable Hawthorn star Shane Crawford considered it a disaster when Alastair Clarkson was appointed, but now credits the coach with giving him a genuine tilt at an AFL premiership before he retires.

On Saturday Crawford, 33, will become just the sixth player to rack up 300 games for the Hawks, against Brisbane in Launceston.

As Clarkson sat alongside him at a media conference to acknowledge the milestone, Crawford revealed his experiences with Clarkson during his playing days made him doubtful when the former was named Hawks coach for the 2005 season.

"I thought it was a disaster," Crawford said.

"I didn't really know Clarko that well and I had played on him several times and to stop me running he used to punch on with me.

"It was a love-hate relationship."

Clarkson's role in demoting Crawford from the captaincy and calling time on the careers of several senior Hawks was also a testing time.

"Clarko moved on a lot of my close mates, who were a bit older, I thought that's not a great way to start a relationship," Crawford said.

But the veteran acknowledged those forward-thinking decisions were necessary.

"I honestly don't think anyone could have done a better job than what he's done ... I have no doubt that's a main reason why we're having success," he said.

Clarkson admitted his tactics during his playing days would not have endeared him to Crawford.

"He's an extraordinary athlete and my only way of trying to defeat him was to try to belt him, but I couldn't catch him all that often," Clarkson said.

But he said Crawford's willingness to embrace his vision at Hawthorn had been vital to the club's upward climb.

"There were so many within the playing group that looked up to him and he needed to assure the rest of his team-mates that the direction of the decision-making that the team had undertaken was the right one for the club," Clarkson said.

The coach labelled Crawford a "pioneer" of the AFL's modern professionalism in his dedicated approach to fitness, preparation and playing intensity.

He said the club would love to give him a premiership to go with his many individual accolades, including a Brownlow Medal, four best and fairests, Australian captaincy and the Hawks' captaincy.

Crawford, who is yet to decide if this will be his last season, said he considered himself fortunate to have outlasted a period in which the club was starved of success.

"All those people who aren't lucky enough to be around the club now to see the way it is, I just wish that they could see how great the club is, inside and out," Crawford said.

"I feel like I'm representing all those past players that didn't have the chance to be a really successful side."

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