“TO WORK here once and come back and work here again is an exciting opportunity, and one that I’m really grateful for.”

Ask anybody who was at IKON Park for Tim Clarke’s first stint as an assistant coach and the answer will be the exact same. 

Returning to the ground where he spent three years as midfield coach to return in the same role, it’s been a period of re-adjustment for Clarke, who officially returned to Melbourne from the Gold Coast on Sunday and was straight into the swing of things. 

Clarke was announced as one of three new assistant coaches under Michael Voss for the upcoming 2022 season, reuniting with players such as Patrick Cripps and Ed Curnow while also greeting new faces that arrived following his departure. 

07:48 Mins
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Clarke on return to Ikon Park, exciting opportunity ahead

Tim Clarke sat down with Carlton Media to discuss his return as a midfield coach for the Blues.

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Back at the Club where his dad (David, 1982) and brother (David Junior, 2004-05) played and he himself coached, he couldn’t wait to get stuck in when pre-season officially begins next week. 

“I’m excited to come back. I’ve always admired ‘Vossy’ when I was a player with his leadership and his impact on games. The coaching group he has put together, it’s going to be a terrific group of guys to work with,” Clarke told Carlton Media.

“It was such a good club, and it still is. Walking through the corridors and seeing the same faces that were here a few years ago and meeting some of the new people, it’s really exciting.

“My old man played here for a year, my brother played here for a couple of years and footy is in the blood. Carlton is a club that has been part of our family for a while and I’ve always had one eye on how they’ve been going.”

David, David Junior and Tim Clarke in their respective stints at Carlton. (Source: Blueseum, AFL Photos)

Returning home after three years with the Gold Coast Suns, the opportunity to reconnect and re-engage with familiar faces is an exciting proposition for Clarke. 

However, what has Clarke just as enthusiastic is the chance to work with those he couldn’t quite cross paths with. 

“Whether it’s in-person like the last couple of days or over the phone, I’m really excited to re-engage with guys I worked with before once again,” he said.

“Then there are the guys who I haven’t met or haven’t worked with, some really exciting players that are at the stage where they’re looking to solidify themselves as midfielders in the competition.

“It’s exciting to get Adam [Cerra] as part of our midfield group and George Hewett as well. They’re going to add leadership and a real edge to our midfield group, complementing the guys already in there.

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“‘Walshy’ is an exciting talent, but the thing that stands out when you first meet him and watch him is how hard he works and how much he invests in his teammates.”

Of course, Walsh arrived at the Blues just a few months after Clarke moved to the Suns. 

But one player who the midfield coach is well and truly accustomed with is Patrick Cripps, who cited the influence of Clarke when he won his second John Nicholls Medal in 2018.

Outlining his relationship with him and reuniting with him over the pre-season, Clarke outlined the co-captain as “a true pro”.

“I’m very confident that he can play his best footy. He’s a highly motivated individual, he invests in his own craft, he watches a lot of vision,” he said.

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"He's a true pro": Clarke on reuniting with 'Crippa'

Midfield coach Tim Clarke speaks on his time previously spent working with co-captain Patrick Cripps and how much he's looking forward to doing it again.

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“When you’ve got a player that’s motivated and is prepared to invest in his teammates, they’re a privilege to work with. He works as hard as anyone on his game.

“I still feel the biggest value he’s going to have is not only with his own footy, but the impact he can have on those around him in the team.”

In his coaching approach, Clarke echoed the sentiments of Michael Voss that the focus would be backing each individual’s strength during training and on game day. 

He said he was very much a coach who focuses firstly on the person behind the player.

“I think coaching starts with the players, with the individual,” he said.

“I feel my strength is investing in them as people and getting the best out of them. I’m really lucky to be part of such a good playing group that are very motivated individuals. 

“I think everyone in sport is at their best when they’re playing to their strengths. We’re here to make them better as young men and better players, but if they can all bring their weapons to the table, they’re going to be much harder to play against.”