by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
There was no shortage of speculation for the Carlton coaching job and the man who finally landed the job is Hawthorn assistant Brendon Bolton. Bolton has had a long and varied journey. Originally from Tasmania, he was captain-coach of North Hobart as well as a premiership player for the club in 2003. That same year, he won the Horrie Gorringe Medal (Tasmania's Brownlow equivalent). A physical education teacher by trade, he had stints with the Tasmanian Devils and Clarence before coming to Hawthorn's VFL affiliate Box Hill. He started there as midfield then forward coach before being appointed their senior coach for two seasons in which Box Hill won the VFL premiership. In 2009, he became an assistant to Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn. When Clarkson became ill in 2014, Bolton assumed the senior coaching duties for five games and steered the Hawks to victory in all of them.
Carlton CEO Steven Trigg, who was chairman of the selection committee, said it was the change the club needed and welcomed Bolton to the club. In a statement, he said it was the club's vision that Bolton would be there long-term and help build toward success, pointing to his extensive experience and success with the Hawks. “What set Brendon apart ... was his proven ability to develop and educate ... He is a proven performer, having come from an elite environment where the ultimate success has been achieved."
Carlton president Mark LoGiudice remarked on the "quality of the candidates" but was in agreement with Trigg that Bolton was the right person. He also noted that it was one of many changes at the club as they seek to build toward future success - himself as president, replacing Stephen Kernahan, a new CEO in Steven Trigg, football manager Andrew McKay, a new executive management team and finally a new senior coach. All of these changes have taken place in less then 18 months.
Ahead of Round 22, Bolton handed over his duties to assistant coach Damian Carroll and departed the Hawks. Carroll took over the senior role at Box Hill in 2010, replacing Bolton when he went to the senior Hawks. Carroll is also head of the club's Development Academy. In fareweling Bolton, Coach Alastair Clarkson thanked him for his contributions and had nothing but praise for him. “Brendon has displayed a fantastic ability to build strong relationships with the playing and coaching group, and his teaching background enables him to develop players. He is well-placed for the transition into senior coaching, which is thoroughly deserved on the back of an impressive coaching apprenticeship."
Hawthorn CEO Stuart Fox said after consultation with both Bolton and Carlton the decision was made that it would be best for all for Bolton to begin to focus on the job ahead and said neither believed that he would be able to adequately split his time between Carlton and Hawthorn, especially with the Hawks set to again challenge for the premiership in September. He also was full of praise and appreciation for Bolton, describing him as a fantastic contributor to the club.
And what of caretaker coach John Barker? He will see out the season and Carlton has pledged to "look after" him. Trigg said Barker had "been set on his backside" and hit hard when told he did not get the senior job. Trigg admitted it had been a tight race for the appointment and that Barker "has done a mighty job" to restore a competitive spirit in the team, earning the respect of everyone around the club. Whether or not Barker stays, of course, will be up to Bolton who already plans to use the rest of the season to hold discussions on the Carlton list and his future coaching team. He said he would talk to the current assistants and get their thoughts. Carlton's assistants include director of development and coaching Robert Wiley, Dean Laidley, Matthew Capuano, Brad Green and Northern Blues coach Luke Webster.
Source: afl.com.au, Leah Mirabella, Hawthorn Media Release, Carlton Media Release
Article last changed on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 8:44 PM EDT