AFL coaches association (AFLCA) chief executive Mark Brayshaw has supported Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson after his scuffle with a fan on Saturday night, saying he showed “remarkable restraint”.
Clarkson was criticised when footage emerged on Sunday of him striking an allegedly intoxicated Port Adelaide fan after the Hawks coach was harassed outside the team hotel.
Speaking to ABC 891 Adelaide’s breakfast show on Monday morning, Brayshaw said Clarkson’s reaction was perfectly acceptable, and even went so far as to give any coach who finds themselves in a similar situation the green light to follow suit.
“I think Alastair and Chris (Fagan, Hawthorn football director) have behaved extraordinarily well, and should be commended for their composure,” Brayshaw said.
“In my opinion they were trying to avoid a conflict, get out of the way and get up to the hotel.
“And I think the three morons, who behave as they do, should be held to example. I don’t think it’s appropriate that anybody, let alone a coach in that scenario, should be put upon.”
ABC 891 presenter David Bevan quizzed Brayshaw if “the coaches association are saying that if you are provoked, it’s okay to give a guy a whack – not once but twice – with an open hand?”
“Yep,” replied Brayshaw.
“It’s the real world, and our view is that if you are confronted like that, then you should try as best as you can to get out of the situation.
“I think we can all agree two things – it was an unfortunate outcome, and it could have been a hell of a lot worse but for the restraint of the two fellows.”
Brayshaw said the environment AFL coaches find themselves mean incidents like this one are prone to happen, but that most fans are respectful and good natured.
“This is not America where you are shielded, and part and parcel of being an AFL coach is that, by and large, appropriate engagement,” he said.
“He walked from the ground to the hotel, and presumably that’s 800-odd metres of happy, friendly, appropriate and occasionally funny engagement with the fans.
“Then he hits the hotel, and these guys are in his face for 40 or 50 metres, and were politely instructed three times, I’m advised, by Chris Fagan and Alastair, that this is not the time for a photo and to basically back off.
“And in the end, we saw what happened. It was a really unfortunate situation.”
Clarkson was quick to face media on Sunday to try to douse the situation, and claimed that the story was much ado about nothing.
“I didn’t think it was too much of an incident to be fair, I went past plenty of Port supporters throughout the game and they were very respectful,” Clarkson said.
“We just didn’t want to stop and be in the company of these gentlemen who’d had a bit too much to drink.
“We know we’ve got to put up with the occasional rant and rave (from supporters) … but it just went a little too far last night. Probably walking from the Adelaide Oval to the hotel is a no-no from now on.”