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Kennett returns as Hawthorn president

Football

Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett is back as Hawthorn president, two days after the AFL club sacked chief executive Tracey Gaudry.

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The Hawks dropped their second bombshell this week on Wednesday morning, announcing that president Richard Garvey had resigned and Kennett would resume the role.

Hawthorn said in a statement that Garvey was “accepting responsibility for a recent board decision”.

They also said Garvey would continue as a club director and Kennett’s appointment was subject to a vote at their December AGM.

The announcement was made after a board meeting early on Wednesday morning.

Kennett had an eventful term as Hawks president from 2006-11.

There was frequent tension with coach Alastair Clarkson and Kennett is a trenchant critic of the AFL.

Kennett has never confirmed it, but it is Hawks folklore that he was threatening to “drop” Clarkson to coach their VFL team after they started the 2010 season with one win from seven games.

In the last few seconds of the round-eight match against Richmond, Hawks star Sam Mitchell brought down Shane Tuck in a tackle that saved the match — and potentially Clarkson’s time at Hawthorn.

The Hawks went on to make the finals that season, but as late as the start of the 2013 season, Kennett had called for Clarkson’s sacking again.

Kennett’s stunning return continues a period of massive change at one of the AFL’s strongest clubs.

In the past 18 months, Andrew Newbold has handed over to Garvey, chief executive Stuart Fox has gone to the plumb role as CEO at the Melbourne Cricket Club and football director Chris Fagan has gone to coach Brisbane.

Clarkson is the only key club leader remaining from their 2013-15 premiership three-peat.

Gaudry took over from Fox, but the first female chief executive at an AFL club only lasted five months.

Immediately after the Hawks dumped Gaudry, the pressure went onto Garvey.

On the field, the Hawks dropped out of the top eight for the first time since 2009, with club legend Luke Hodge and star defender Josh Gibson retiring at the end of the season.

Hodge has since indicated he could keep playing under Fagan at the Lions.

At the end of the 2016 season, as it became clear Hawthorn’s premiership era was ending, Clarkson moved on key veterans Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis.

– AAP

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