Carlton’s David Parkin (left) and Wayne Brittain in 2000.Credit:Wayne Taylor
Sam Mitchell will have turned 40 by the time 2023 rolls around, making him a little older than Nathan Buckley, John Longmire, Ben Rutten and Simon Goodwin were during their first game in charge after brief periods as underlings to experienced premiership coaches.
Wayne Brittain was 42 when he assumed the top job at Carlton in an informal handover from coaching legend David Parkin but had not played in the league before coaching.
Longmire’s stint has been the most successful of the five, winning a flag just two seasons after taking over a finals team from Paul Roos and since making two other grand finals.
The club did not miss a beat under his leadership, with Roos a willing teacher.
Goodwin has experienced coaching’s highs and lows since in 2017 taking over – also from Roos – a Melbourne team in the middle of a finals and premiership drought. But he has held his nerve in tough times and has the Demons now heading in the right direction.
Roos’ stint at the Dees probably guarded a first-time coach from almost certain failure as much as it might have assisted Goodwin in the transition.
At the Bombers, Rutten has made a promising start to his career and it was helpful to him for John Worsfold to still hold the reins during a pressure-filled season inside hubs, away from family, with wins few and far between.
Mitchell’s current circumstances seem most similar however to Buckley’s, who not only took over from a coaching icon in Mick Malthouse but, like Mitchell, is a former champion player at the club he wanted to helm.
In the modern era, that is hardly a forerunner to success. As coaches, Buckley, Michael Voss, James Hird and Brett Ratten all struggled to replicate what they achieved as a player.
Only Worsfold and Luke Beveridge have won premierships this century at the club they played for and it’s no disrespect to Beveridge to say he wasn’t an iconic player at the Western Bulldogs.
Mitchell will succeed Clarkson, but will he succeed like Clarkson? That is a question he will struggle to escape.
WAITING IN THE WINGS
Recent coaching succession plans
• Ladder position year before handover: 3rd
•2001: Wayne Brittain succeeds David Parkin in an informal handover. Brittain coaches his first AFL game aged 42 years, 291 days.
•Brittain at Carlton: 46 games – 18 wins, 28 losses. Winning percentage: 39.13%; 2 finals.
•Parkin at Carlton*: 235 games – 140 wins, 1 draw, 94 losses. Winning percentage: 59.57%; 1 premiership, 2 grand finals.
* Second stint at Carlton
• Ladder position year before handover: 2nd.
• 2012: Nathan Buckley succeeds Mick Malthouse. Buckley coaches first AFL game aged 39 years, 248 days: after being assistant coach in 2010-11 where the Magpies reach successive grand finals and win the 2010 premiership.
• Buckley at Collingwood: 218 games – 117 wins, 2 draws, 99 losses. Winning percentage: 54.13%; 1 grand final.
• Malthouse at Collingwood: 286 games – 163 wins, 2 draws, 121 losses. Winning percentage: 57.34%; 1 premiership, 5 grand finals*.
* Includes 2010 replay
• Ladder position year before handover: 5th.
• 2012: John Longmire succeeds Paul Roos, coaches first AFL game aged 40 years, 86 days.
• Longmire at Sydney: 250 games – 153 games, 2 draws, 95 losses. Winning percentage: 61.60%; 1 premiership, 3 grand finals.
• Roos at Sydney: 202 games – 116 wins, 2 draws, 84 losses. Winning percentage: 57.92%; 1 premiership, 2 grand finals.
• Ladder position year before handover – 11th.
• 2017: Simon Goodwin succeeds Paul Roos, coaching first AFL game aged 40 years, 89 days.
• Goodwin at Melbourne: 102 games – 54 wins, 48 losses. Winning percentage: 52.94%; 3 finals.
• Roos at Melbourne: 66 games – 21 wins, 45 losses. Winning percentage: 31.82%; no finals.
• Ladder position year before handover – 13th.
• 2021: Ben Rutten succeeds John Worsfold, coaches first AFL game aged 37 years, 296 days.
• Rutten at Essendon: 15 games – 6 wins, 9 losses. Winning percentage: 40%.
• Worsfold at Essendon: 107 games – 45 wins, 1 draw, 61 losses. Winning percentage: 42.52%; 1 final.
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