Wilson’s “fear” for Hawthorn’s Dingley move

Caroline Wilson is worried about Hawthorn as they embark on a new era for the club.

The Hawks are moving from their current facilities out to Dingley Village, where they plan to build the $130 million Kennedy Community Centre.

They announced the plan in 2019 and hope to move in during the 2024 season.

It is a period of change at the club with president Jeff Kennett on the way out and a messy election is being held to replace him.

Wilson believes the move to Dingley, coupled with a period of instability, could do serious damage to the club.

The Alastair Clarkson years ended badly. Clarkson refused to see that Hawthorn needed to be rebuilt. Their recruiting was amongst the worst in the AFL in his last few years and they used a few years to be frank,” the veteran journalist told the Don’t shoot the messenger podcast.

“There was obviously a battle for power between Clarkson and Sam Mitchell, that ended badly, but was probably the right result, but the coach ended up having to pay, on Jeff Kennett’s watch, Alastair Clarkson $1 million to leave for that last year of his contract.

That was the first thing that was bad. Tasmania is obviously a big question mark for Hawthorn now. They might get one more deal before the new team comes in. That’s a big revenue loser.

“The club is moving again, they moved of course from Glenferrie Oval to Waverley, now they’re moving to Dingley in what I fear will be a massive white elephant.

“I think clubs that do this, and Essendon has done it, St Kilda obviously failed dismally and ended up back at Moorabbin millions of wasted dollars later, I just fear that (these clubs) lose their soul in the name of better facilities.”

Award winning journalist and Hawthorn supporter Corrie Perkin agreed with Wilson’s fears about the move to Dingley village.

The whole Dingley thing fills me with absolute dread. It reminds me so much of Waverley,” Perkin said.

“Ditching our traditional heartland.”

Wilson agreed, adding: “Getting to Waverley was not as difficult as getting to Dingley will be for most people.

“These satellite facilities, I don’t like them.

Collingwood went inner city and it was a great move. Richmond, their facilities are nowhere near as good as most of the competition’s, but it doesn’t matter.

When they finally won a premiership they were right next door and you saw what happened with all of Richmond. It completely erupted.

“The other thing of course, they need a lot more money to pay for the community facility and Jeff Kennett’s late-night tweets about the state Labor government haven’t helped his case.”

Wilson outlined the messiness surrounding the current presidential election race between Peter Nankivell and Andy Gowers.

Jeff Kennett is leaving finally. He took a long time to officially announce he was leaving. He changed the constitution that he put in place to come back in – in his mind to save the club,” she said.

“His nominated successor, although he’s denying he nominated him, Peter Nankivell hoped to come in as unopposed president.

“Enter Andy Gowers, who was part of the nominations committee looking for new presidential talent, said Nankivell should never have stood because Nankivell himself was going to be part of the committee.

“A bit like Andrew Thorburn at Essendon helping the club find a CEO and then taking the job.

He’s explained as to why (he didn’t recuse himself). The ongoing dodgy allegations are that the nominations were only announced on the closed day, so anyone who was nominated only had hours to do so. The club has denied this, but it smells bad.

Hawthorn are also under fire from the rest of the competition because of their handling of this shocking First Nations allegations. Jeff Kennett and his role in that, I think he has escaped a lot of scrutiny.

“The AFL is furious at Hawthorn basically threw the allegations over to them and did nothing. The other clubs say they were not given the heads up and their practices were also questioned because North Melbourne and Brisbane lost their coaches for a few months and had no idea this was about to happen.

But what you’ve got now is former champions and presidents – Chris Langford came out with a pretty explosive series of allegations about Kennett and said he was acting out of Vladimir Putin’s playbook.

“He talked about a government media machine running the club. Interestingly, it’s fallen a bit on party lines with Jeff obviously a liberal and one of the new challengers to the board James Merlino obviously Labor.

Andy Gowers has even come out and said he is a Liberal voter and Matt Dickson who is now the club’s media advisor worked for the Andrews government.

“I just can’t believe this has happened so soon after an unbelievably great era, but this is often what happens when long term coaches leave.

“It tends to fall apart.”