When the little-known Alastair Clarkson took implicit arsenic Hawthorn manager astatine the extremity of a disastrous 2004 season, helium arrived astatine a struggling nine that was a shadiness of the powerhouse it erstwhile was.
Before Clarkson turned Hawthorn backmost into the winning instrumentality it yet became successful the aboriginal 2010s, Hawthorn had go the "easybeats" of the competition, a squad rivals utilized to fatten their respective percentages passim the year.
Amid the rubble Clarkson inherited was 1 shining beacon of light: prima midfielder Shane Crawford, who had won the Brownlow Medal 5 seasons earlier.
Hindsight shows that Crawford was the span betwixt Hawthorn's 2 eras of dominance, arriving astatine the nine connected the backmost of 5 premierships successful 8 years successful the 80s and aboriginal 90s, earlier leaving with the club's archetypal emblem successful 17 years successful 2008.
Crawford's eventual fairytale ending appeared to beryllium good retired of scope erstwhile Clarkson arrived astatine Glenferrie Oval astatine the extremity of 2004. The Brownlow Medallist was nursing a breached limb but besides a breached heart, fearing that helium mightiness ne'er spot occurrence astatine his beloved club.
While Clarkson jettisoned a fig of Crawford's aged teammates to instill a younker policy, helium wanted the four-time All-Australian around, selling him connected starring the adjacent procreation of stars connected the list.
"My precise archetypal gathering was sitting down successful his bureau and we had an honorable conversation," Crawford told Wide World of Sports.
"I had mislaid my emotion for the shot nine due to the fact that we had truly struggled and mislaid a spot of direction, and I thought that possibly I needed to decorativeness up astatine that nine and determination connected to effort and bask the past 4 of 5 years of my career.
"When you're captain, you find retired excessively much. You're a portion of tons of antithetic meetings, sometimes committee meetings, and you're a portion of conversations astir definite players and you conscionable find retired excessively overmuch and it's not nice. I felt that I astir apt needed a caller start.
"I had a speech with him and helium said, 'I'm going to play these young kids, we're going to draught young and I'm going to determination connected immoderate of your friends who person been truly bully servants, but we'll effort and get them to different clubs. I cognize they've got a mates much years to go, but I won't play them due to the fact that I've got to play these kids. It'd beryllium large if you hung astir and helped and showed them however to bid properly'.
"That's what truly made maine question whether I should spell due to the fact that I was like, if I'm not going to person occurrence arsenic a squad and winning a premiership, possibly I tin get large restitution retired of knowing that I've helped successful a tiny mode with immoderate of the players coming done if they're capable to person aboriginal success.
"That was thing that helium truly planted successful my caput and evidently it was astir apt 1 of the main reasons I stayed."
After a pre-season premiership declaration successful 2004 from then-coach Peter Schwab, a three-time premiership victor with the nine successful the 1980s, the Hawks slumped to bottommost of the ladder by Round 16. Schwab had to bring guardant his planned resignation mid-season owed to a tally of embarrassingly lopsided results.
Schwab was replaced by interim manager Donald McDonald, earlier Clarkson, who had been the midfield manager of that season's premiership-winner Port Adelaide, became the club's stunning caller appointment.
Crawford recalls Clarkson stressing the basics early, mounting a coagulated cardinal basal that allowed the nine to physique itself backmost into a powerhouse.
"We didn't crook it astir successful the archetypal mates of years, we were the easybeats," helium said.
"We went backmost to the basics of learning and knowing the game. It was beauteous overmuch arsenic basal arsenic you could get.
"He was honest, but helium was ruthless with who was going to enactment connected the database and however helium was going to make the team; which I didn't like, due to the fact that helium was evidently getting escaped of immoderate of my long-time teammates, but astatine slightest I understood what helium was trying to do.
"He wanted to bring successful young kids and they were not acceptable to play AFL football, but they've got to larn and the champion mode for them to larn was to play connected bully players and against bully teams and recognize what's required and hopefully that could fast-track them.
"Hawthorn had ne'er done that successful the past, we had ever made players gain their stripes, whereas helium was up of the game.
"He's a amusive teacher but he's besides got that headmaster absorption astir him astatine times. All the players who ever played nether him ever knew what was expected, not lone from your relation but everyone else's role.
"He was a existent teacher of wherefore it was truthful important to recognize precisely what everyone needs to do."
Among the young kids Crawford was tasked with mentoring was the antheral who volition beryllium Clarkson's successor arsenic Hawthorn coach: Sam Mitchell, idiosyncratic who Crawford calls "one of the smartest footballers I ever played with".
"He had to bash it hard. He kept getting the shot and helium kept playing good each the clip but recruiters pigeon-holed him," Crawford said of Mitchell, who was not a precocious draught prime similar Luke Hodge, Lance Franklin, Jarryd Roughead oregon Jordan Lewis.
"I had a batch to bash with Sam, particularly aboriginal successful his career, due to the fact that helium was idiosyncratic who was pigeon-holed and told that helium wasn't accelerated capable oregon his endurance wasn't bully enough, but helium worked harder than anyone."
With Hawthorn's coaching succession program involving 2 men Crawford shared immense amounts of clip with successful the alteration rooms, the Hawks fable is definite it'll beryllium a success.
"For him to person his shot vocation is incredible," helium said of Mitchell.
"If helium applies his coaching relation similar helium did with his footy, he's going to beryllium a large success."