Sam Mitchell is heading back to Hawthorn after two years in the west with the Eagles.AFL great Sam Mitchell is officially back at Hawthorn, signing a three-year deal to work under Alastair Clarkson as an assistant coach.
The deal comes as no surprise, with Mitchell himself confirming two months ago that he wanted to leave West Coast for family reasons.
Mitchell has broken a four-year deal with the Eagles to rejoin the Hawks
Earlier this month, Clarkson also re-signed with Hawthorn until 2022.
Friday’s announcement completes a tumultuous two-year period for the four-time Hawthorn premiership midfielder, who captained the Hawks to the 2008 flag and also was the joint winner of the 2012 Brownlow Medal.
At the end of the 2016 season, Clarkson moved on Mitchell and fellow Hawks great Jordan Lewis.
Mitchell went to West Coast on a deal where he played a final season and then was supposed to be an assistant under Adam Simpson for three more years.
He was a key figure in West Coast’s premiership campaign and Simpson paid tribute to Mitchell in his post-match media conference.
“Sam Mitchell’s been sensational for us. We’re really sad to lose him, because he’s been great for these guys and our mids once again stood up really well,” Simpson said.
Mitchell said it had become too hard for his family to stay in Perth and he spoke to the Eagles mid-year.
“Perth is a great place, but it became apparent that with the heavy travel commitments, and living in an isolated city away from our support network, was not conducive with a young family,” he said.
“(Eagles football boss) Craig Vozzo was so supportive and we worked together to ensure that this would not be a distraction for the players.
“I am glad we did, as finishing my two years at West Coast with a premiership was a special experience.”
Mitchell, 36, played 207 games for the Hawks and another 22 for West Coast.
When it became clear in late July that Mitchell would return to Melbourne – but it was not yet certain that he would re-join Hawthorn – Clarkson said he sent him a text.
“I know Sam full well, his response to me was, ‘Yeah, we’re coming home Clarko but now’s not the right time to talk’,” Clarkson said.
“So I was put back in my box pretty quickly by Mitch.”